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How to get rid of fleas on kittens

Young kittens are at particular risk from fleas. A large flea infestation can quickly make them anemic and weaken them so that other diseases can infect them. At the same time most flea products are too dangerous for kittens younger than 8-12 weeks.

On top of this wee kittens have not figured out how to groom themselves very well so unlike their mother they cannot rid themselves of some fleas as she does.

As in Adult flea control, to get rid of fleas on kittens is a multi-phase approach.

2 kittens

First step, get rid of adult fleas on the kitten

Give your kitten a bath. Be ready with a flea comb and a place to put any flea you catch. This could be a high bowl of HOT soapy water.

Choose your soap carefully. Dawn is widely used and has proved relatively safe if used carefully. Dilute your Dawn about 10:1 (one part Regular Dawn, 10 parts water.) Do not use antibacterial Dawn. Dawn has been shown to kill some fleas.

Pure soaps that contain no perfume or colour are also very safe. There are shampoos sold for cats, make sure they can be used on kittens. Do not use human shampoos. Never use dog products.

Be ready with your soap solution, I use an empty squeeze bottle I bought at the dollar store sold for mustard and ketshup.

Use warm water, not hot. Put your kitten in the water and wet him completely. Fleas will go up to the head and you can start picking them off with your flea comb.

Some kittens have no trouble accepting a bath and will sit there enjoying the warm water, others will go bonkers. It helps to have a helper who can do the flea picking.

After wetting the cat, put some soap on him using your bottle and make sure the soap is well distributed. Be careful of eyes.

Keep picking off fleas as they appear on the head.

Rinse well. Dry your kitten so he doesn't get cold. Once dry check him again with the flea comb and put him in a separate clean box with clean bedding.

If there are more than one kitten, do each kitten and only put them together when they are clean. Keep the clean and dirty kittens separate.

If there is a mother kitten she must be treated as well. Mother cats are not known for loving baths so other flea control is better. I use spot on flea treatment on older kittens and cats.

cat flea photograph

Step Two: Clean the environment

It makes no sense getting rid of fleas on the kittens without getting rid of flea eggs, larva or pupa in it's bed. He will immediately get fleas again if you don't.

You might have to bathe your kitten more than once but don't overdo it. Kitten are sensitive and Dawn is not perfectly safe.

My page on the life cycle of fleas.

Change and wash the bedding, using hot water and a hot dryer or putting out in the hot sun to dry.

Vacuum the area. This is a very effective way of dealing with fleas, eggs, pupa, and larva.

Once your kitten reaches the age of 4 weeks, AND a weight of 2 or more pounds, there are some flea control products that can be used on them but be careful. Consult your vet about what is available in your area and what he/she recommends. No flea medicine or control is completely safe. Read the instructions. NEVER USE DOG FLEA MEDICINE OR SPRAY ON A CAT.

Some of the topical or tablet flea product are: CapGuard is a tablet which can be used on kits over 4 weeks AND heaviery than 2 pounds. Capaction (Elanco) FleaCaps (Elanco) tablets can be used on 5 week old kittens that weight more than 3 pounds. Capstar (Elanco) tablets also for kittens 4 weeks AND over 2 pounds. Program (Elanco)tablet for kittens 6 weeks and more. Program Injectable (Elanco) can be injected in cats over 6 weeks. There are many spot treatments available for kittens over 8 weeks, I use Revolution. Be very careful of spot treatments bought from pet stores. They often use more toxic chemicals than the more expensive kinds.

Follow the instructions to the letter when using and make sure make sure it is appropriate.

The Entomology department of the University of Kentucky has a good article on flea control. They have links for products available to control fleas.

Check for Tapeworm and other parasites

Because fleas often carry tapeworm it is possible that your cat will become infected. You should get it tested and treat it if necessary.

Here is a link to my page on Getting rid of fleas on Cats. It describes in much better detail other measures you can take to get rid of fleas. You need to address the fleas, eggs, larva, and pupa that are around the house. The treatment of the surroundings is the same for kittens as for adult cats.

While you're at it you might want to also check your cat for ticks. Here is my page on how to check your cat for ticks and how to remove any tick you find.

Many products used to control or kill fleas are DANGEROUS and POISONOUS to you and your animals. READ THE LABELS and use as recommended. It's not to a supplier's advantage to make up dangers and warnings. When they do believe them. They are not making it up. If anything they will tend to under report possible dangers and side effects.

There is more need for flea control in the warmer months since conditions are better for flea development.

emails: Christine

This article is provided for information only. It is not to be used instead of consulting a VET. If your kitty is sick get some help.