Fleas and ticks are not just a problem for dogs. Cats, including our indoor feline companions, are susceptible to parasite infections too. Even though cats groom themselves regularly but when it comes to these pesky parasites, our kitties will not be able to groom them away. Let’s look at how our indoor cats can catch these infections, and what we can do about it.
How do fleas or ticks get on my indoor cat?
The most common way for ticks and fleas to enter your household is to “hitchhike” on another pet; typically, the family dog or another pet that comes inside from being outdoors. Cats can also get fleas from neighbour pets and local wildlife. Do be aware that most monthly tick and flea preventatives may take time before they start killing the parasites. So, even though your dog is on a preventative, these parasites can still jump on the dog and enter your house alive. Inside the house, ticks and fleas can hop onto your cat.
Another way how fleas and ticks can enter our homes is through us! Fleas and ticks may hang onto our clothing or shoes and get a free ride into our homes. Once inside, they will hop onto our indoor kitties.
How to prevent fleas and ticks infestation in indoor cats
There are several different options to choose from when it comes to over-the-counter preventatives. Some preventatives will even offer protection against other parasites such as heartworm. However, it’s important to read the labels carefully and get only those made for cats. When in doubt, it is best to consult with your vet. He or she can help you determine which is best for your cat. Here are a few types of tick preventatives you may want to consider.
1. Spot-On treatments
These topical treatments are very effective at keeping fleas and ticks at bay. Spot-on treatments are applied directly to the nape of your pet's neck and often, they offer protection for up to a month. Re-application is necessary after a month for continuous protection. Different products contain different ingredients, and some offer protection against other parasites like protection against heartworm for cats. Some products also contain ingredients to kill off flea eggs, preventing these eggs from hatching into adult fleas. Common spot-on treatments are Revolution, Revolution Plus, and Frontline Plus for cats.
Apart from these medications, there are natural spot-on treatments for cats too. These natural flea and tick preventatives are made with essential oils like cedarwood oil and peppermint oil. For cat parents who prefer a natural solution, we would suggest you try this essential oil-based spot-on formula - TropiClean Natural Flea & Tick Spot On Treatment For Cats.
2. Tick collars
The other option is the flea and tick collars. Some of these collars work by emitting a gas that repels parasites in the neck region, while others emit ingredients that are absorbed and spread through the skin, like how spot-on work. When putting any type of collar on your kitty, please make sure there is just enough room to fit two fingers under the collar. The collar must not be too tight or too loose. Watch for signs of discomfort like excessive scratching. Should you notice any signs of discomfort or an allergic reaction to the collar, please remove the collar immediately.
Like the spot-on treatments, there are more natural options available. However, “natural” does not guarantee “allergy-free”. As such, do pay close attention to your cat’s reaction to the natural collar. Remove the collar if you notice signs of sensitivity. Here’s a natural tick collar for cats - TropiClean Natural Flea & Tick Cat Collar.
3. Flea and tick prevention shampoo
In the case of cats, it is often not necessary to bathe your cat frequently. Cats are very good at self-grooming and keeping themselves clean. However, when an infestation occurs, bathing your cat with a preventative shampoo is often necessary. Depending on the situation, your vet may prescribe a medicated shampoo.
There are off-the-shelf flea and tick prevention shampoos that you can use on your cat too. A natural alternative to the medicated shampoos is this WashBar Natural Manuka Soap for Dogs & Cats (Itch Relief, Flea & Tick Prevention). This natural soap has anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, and insecticidal properties, but still gentle on your pet’s skin. It’s ideal for cats and dogs with sensitive or problem skin.
Don’t forget to protect your garden and home
If you have a garden, it is important to keep your lawn, bushes, and trees trimmed back. Fleas and ticks thrive where it is dark, moist, and shaded. Mow the lawn frequently and sweep and remove piles of leaves from your garden. Allow the sunlight to penetrate and light up the dark spots. This will make the environment harsh and uncomfortable for the parasites to live in.
If you still have an infestation problem, consider using one of these natural agents to repel the parasites. Natural agents are not toxic to pets and humans but are effective against ticks and fleas.
Cedar oil spray
Eucalyptus oil spray
Neem oil spray
To control fleas and ticks inside your home, vacuum daily to remove eggs, larvae, and adults. Be sure to vacuum the carpets, cushioned furniture, cracks, and crevices on floors, and along baseboards too. Empty the vacuum bag immediately, away from your home. This will prevent the parasites from escaping back into the house. This is the best method for initial control of fleas and tick infestation.
Pay particular attention to areas where your cat sleeps. Wash all your pet’s bedding and family bedding in hot, soapy water. If an infestation is severe, discard old cat bedding and replace it with fresh, clean material.
Use the Vet's Best Cat Flea & Tick Home Spray to further control the infestation. This spray is a chemical-free formula that kills ticks, fleas, and flea eggs on contact, and repel mosquitoes. The formula is non-staining and can be sprayed directly on bedding, furniture, pillows, collars, blankets, upholstery, carpets, and rugs.
For continuous monitoring, especially with fleas as they are not easily seen with the naked eye, use a flea comb to remove adult fleas. Hair can pass through the comb's fine teeth, but not the fleas. Deposit fleas in hot soapy water to kill them. Pay close attention to the presence of flea dirt (flea droppings). Even if you don’t see fleas, if you see flea dirt, it means fleas are infecting your cat and you will likely have fleas in your home.
Year-round fleas and tick prevention is recommended for all cats (and dogs) in your home, whether they go outdoors or not. Even indoor cats can catch fleas or ticks from other pets that go outdoors, neighbour pets, or surrounding wildlife. The type of preventatives used will depend on your cat’s lifestyle and your preference. Please discuss with your vet the best preventative solution for your cat.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.