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Bringing home a new pet is a huge privilege and a wonderful experience for the whole family. But it’s also a responsibility. It means you have to think about your pet’s health as much as you think about how cute it is. Choosing the best flea medicine for cats or browsing the best carpet cleaners for pets can be a little less fun than, say, picking out the best cat toys or using a cat DNA test to find out more about your cat's breed, but it’s just as important, if not more so. A healthy pet is a happy pet, and the more regularly you think about your pet’s overall health and well-being, the more likely they are to be well-adjusted and comfortable. This means their personality can shine through more often, too, which makes everyone at home happier.
If you’re considering adopting a cat and bringing them into your home, making sure you choose the right flea medication can be key to them being comfortable and healthy year-round. Whether you’re a first time pet owner or you’re just looking to get reacquainted with the best flea treatments for cats, here are seven flea medicines that are expert-recommended and should work well for your furry friend, putting your mind at ease.
The best flea treatments for cats in 2023:
The most important thing you can do when considering a flea treatment for your cat is to consult your veterinarian. Only your pet's vet will know exactly what makes sense for your animal, their health, and their lifestyle. "Talk to your vet to determine a safe and effective treatment that is appropriate for your cat. Many over-the-counter products, despite a label indicating they are safe for cats, can cause toxic reactions in some cats," says Dr. Erin Katribe, medical director at Best Friends Animal Society.
What to look for when shopping for flea treatments for cats
According to Dr. Alejandro Caos, veterinarian at The Vets, every cat is an individual, and it's important to remember that what works well for one may not work well for another. Plus, taking into account your cat's health, age, and any known sensitivities or allergies when choosing a flea medication is important. That being said, here are some general things to look for, according to Dr. Caos:
✔️ Effectiveness: "One of the most crucial factors is the effectiveness of the flea medication. Look for products that have been proven to eliminate fleas and provide long-lasting protection," says Caos. "Read customer reviews and consult with your veterinarian to ensure the product is known for its effectiveness."
✔️ Safety: The safety of the flea medication is paramount, according to Caos. It's important to ensure that every product you choose is specifically formulated for cats and to follow the usage or application instructions and recommended dosage.
✔️ Broad-spectrum protection: "Look for a flea medication that offers broad-spectrum protection. This means it should not only target adult fleas but also kill flea eggs, larvae, and pupae," explains Caos. "By targeting various stages of the flea life cycle, you can effectively control and prevent infestations."
✔️ Ease of use: Caos suggests choosing a flea medication that is easy to apply or administer, noting that topical treatments are often easy to use.
- Why are fleas dangerous?
"Fleas in and of themselves are a bit of a nuisance. They cause bites which are itchy to both animals and people alike. They are also potential hosts for a number of different diseases and all of this stuff is very preventable with flea preventative," Dr. Brausa says. Dr. Katribe also notes fleas can cause anemia in animals in severe infections, which can be life-threatening to animals.
- How can you tell if your cat has fleas?
One of the easiest ways to know if your cat has fleas is to look for them, explains Dr. Katribe. "Common signs of flea infestation include seeing live fleas on your cat; or in some cases, we see 'flea dirt' which looks like fine, black sand in the hair coat, often at the base of the hairs," Dr. Katribe says. "To examine for potential fleas, part the hairs on your cat’s coat near the base and look for fleas or 'flea dirt.' Flea dirt can be combed out with a flea comb. When placed on a paper towel and moistened, the black dirt will turn red, as flea dirt is actually flea excrement — digested blood."
- How can you prevent your cat from getting fleas?
Though there are many different options for preventing fleas, Dr. Katribe explains that they're not all created equal. "Some over-the-counter products, despite being labeled for cats, can cause toxicity. We’re also discovering that flea populations in some areas appear to be resistant to some of the older product formulations," Dr. Katribe says. "To prevent fleas, I recommend a newer generation topical or oral flea prevention product. Combination products are also available that prevent other internal and external parasites. Discuss what options are best for your cat’s lifestyle with your veterinarian."
Olivia Muenter is a freelance writer and former fashion and beauty editor who writes about fashion, beauty, lifestyle, relationships, travel, home decor, and more for Woman's Day and beyond. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Refinery 29, Glamour, Byrdie, Apartment Therapy, Philadelphia Magazine, and more. When she's not reading (or talking about reading on Bad on Paper, the bookish podcast she co-hosts), you can find Olivia working on her first novel, curating the perfect playlist, or shopping online.
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