Cats are often infested with external parasites, no matter if they live indoors or outdoors. Fleas can infest your cat easily, because of their high reproduction rate and their rather clever life cycle. Immature forms, such as the pupa stage are not only designed for the metamorphosis from a larva into a ready flea, but also for the survival of hard times, at least for about 5 -6 months. Dormant flea pupae will awake within seconds through vibrations sent out from passing by animals or humans. Once hatched, the adult, young flea is ready for its first blood meal on the new, unlucky host.
Adult fleas lay eggs, which will hatch 7 - 10 days later. They live as larvae preferably in pet bedding, carpets, furniture and upholstery or outside in the garden or yard, if they find hiding places. Only a few days later they spin a cocoon, turn into a pupa and later into a proper, adult flea.
Knowing about the different developmental stages of a flea until it reaches adulthood, will reveal how much effort is needed to put into effective cat flea control.
Home remedies for cat fleas will work quite well as preventative measures, if the grade of infestation is fairly low. Be aware that you need to treat the area your cat is living in as well as your cat directly, otherwise the whole effort is of no use.
Some household remedies work with volatile oils extracted from plants,such as citrus fruits or cedar wood shavings or herbal pads and sachets.
These oils are toxic to adult fleas and larvae, but will usually not harm flea eggs and pupae. This means you need to repeat treatment depending on the grade of infestation a few times in a regular interval of 5 - 10 days to reach new adult flea generations before they start to lay eggs.
Pyrethrins in sprays are relatively low toxicity, botanical insecticides that kill adult fleas and larvae.
A disadvantage of plant-based insecticides is the fact that some cats (especially certain breeds) may develop more or less heavy allergic reactions towards these substances.
Other natural home remedies for fleas will destruct the protective waxy layer of a flea's chitin skeleton. Once this layer is dissolved, fleas will die from dehydration.
Again, several follow-up treatments are necessary to eliminate finally a large proportion of a current flea population.
Diatomaceous earth and borax powder can be sprinkled on and worked into flooring, carpets, furniture and upholstery and left there for about 24 hours.
Thorough vacuum cleaning is required to remove these powders completely from all surfaces.
These substances are fairly effective insecticides. Try to avoid getting them onto your or your pet's skin, because they can cause dry skin and itchiness. These remedies are not intended for long-term usage and should be avoided altogether, if young children or infants live in your household.
In water diluted white vinegar or apple cider vinegar sprayed onto your feline's fur and living area may be effective, as long as the flea population is not overwhelmingly large. Some pet parents are satisfied using it, for others it seems not to work at all.
Bathing your cat with a mild soap and a small amount of vinegar or a special cat flea shampoo will kill fleas on your pet fairly well.
It is a good idea to use a flea comb to catch fleas and flea remainings and to control the effectiveness of your flea-eliminating schedule.
Brewer's yeast is recommended by some authors, but tests have shown that it does not eliminate fleas on pets.
Garlic is said to be a very good home remedy for various kinds of health problems and is used in different forms by humans. For cats and dogs the brimstone derivatives in garlic and onions, such as thiosulphate, are toxic, because felines and canines lack the enzyme that breaks these substances down.
If used for a longer time or if over-dosed they will suffer from serious health problems, such as anaemia, which will require veterinary treatment. Cats are in general more sensitive.
To decrease and control a current flea problem it will be crucial to follow a proper cleaning schedule: vacuum-clean all surfaces and flooring in the living area of your pet.
Wash pet bedding and cushions at a hot temperature regularly in a weekly - fortnightly interval, best in your washing machine.
Clean up your yard and garden, remove potential flea hiding places, like brushes and undergrowth. Ants (fire ants) and other insects eat flea larvae, but will not be able to control a flea infestation completely.
Mechanical flea traps that attract fleas via randomly blinking green light or entrap them onto a sticky surface, can be integrated in a flea control program. On their own they are unlikely to solve the problem.
As a conclusion it can be said that heavy flea infestations will require a combination of topical pet treatments and sanitation of your cat's living area indoors and outdoors and is initially better treated with chemicals to kill adult fleas and the different life stages effectively.
This will help to make your cat feel more comfortable and stop the blood sucking activity of adult fleas. It will reduce the need of veterinary treatments of hot spots, general skin allergies through flea bites and secondary bacterial skin infections.
Natural home remedies for fleas in cats can be used successfully as preventative measures or in cases of light flea infestations.
Dr. Ellen Schmidt is a veterinarian focusing on alternative veterinary medicine. If you found this review of natural home remedies for fleas in cats helpful, claim your free monthly e-zine "Pet Health Tip"
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