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So, I Moved to Flea Country! Here's How I'll Protect My Cats

Are you in a flea zone, too? Here's how I'll try to keep them away from my cats and dog.

 |  May 2nd 2014  |   27 Contributions


I'm stepping in to a new learning curve, and it involves cats and fleas. With our recent move to northern Vermont, I've discovered that fleas are more of an issue here than in extreme northern Minnesota, were where I moved from. Fleas! Ick!

I never really had to think much about fleas before. It was either too cold or not humid enough, or perhaps we didn't have the right soils. I never treated any of my animals and we never had a problem in the house. Granted, the cats stayed inside but the dog was primarily outdoors. We, of course, had to worry about ticks and Lyme disease.

Amidst the thousands of details involved in a move (which are still playing themselves out), it occurred to me that the Vermont area might have more of a problem with fleas. I knew that summers would be more humid here. Perhaps that had something to do with the nagging intuition that I better ask a local vet a few questions. It was also a good excuse to introduce myself to the vet, since they'll likely be dealing with me and our animals in the future.

From the vet, learned that, yes, fleas are a serious issue around here. (Here's proof that I should always pay attention to my intuition, even if I don't like the answers it leads to.)

Fleas can roam freely, especially outdoors. A calico cat scratching by Shutterstock.com

So, what am I going to do?

I asked the vet assistant a bunch of questions. Flea season here starts in April and can go as long as November. The vet assistant had me consider a few things:

Treat the dog, even if she is primarily indoors now: This particular vet stressed that the dog could easily pick up fleas, even though she's mostly indoors. She does get several walks a day. I'm not going to leave her out in the yard as I used to, because I think there are more predators here.

Treat the cats, even though they are completely indoors: The same goes for the cats. The local vet thought that there's still a chance they could contract fleas somehow, even if they never get outside. They could be brought inside via a person, or animal, or could possibly even just come in through windows.

A construction person that I know suggested that it's the sandy soil in Vermont, rather than the humidity, that has to do with a healthy flea season here. I bet the humidity doesn't hurt, though, and that it helps the fleas thrive. This person asked me if we had a poured concrete basement (we do) or a basement with a dirt floor. Basements with dirt floors are another place where fleas can breed. That's something I never would have known about.

Here's what the vet recommended

The three suggestions were Frontline, Revolution, and Advantage. The latter works only on fleas and not on ticks. However, the first two turned out to be prohibitively expensive for six cats and a dog. I went with Advantage.

I'm not crazy about using these chemicals at all, but I like fleas even less. I'm somewhat concerned about my Rama, who seems to have a predisposition to sarcomas. I don't want to bring anything toxic into his life more than necessary. I'm also going to try two essential oils that have been suggested for tick repelling (both for me and the dog): Young Living's Thieves and Purification. I'll hope for good results here. I was quite impressed with the essential oil Peace and Calm that I used on the cats (and me!) for our move.

The vet recommended that I start applying the Advantage right away in April.

Other suggestions

These are probably very basic to those of you who have dealt with fleas for a long time. But they were reminders and even eye-openers for me: Vacuum often, and change vacuum bags frequently. Store your trash, with the used vacuum bag, outside of your living space if possible. If you have a Dyson or another vacuum without a vacuum bag, empty the canister in trash that is outside of your living space. Also, wash pet bedding often.

I'm new to flea country, so if any of you have any information insights to add, please feel free to comment!

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About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr (cat fantasy novel out June 1), the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.

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