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Does Garlic Kill Fleas On Cats? Vet Reviewed Effectiveness Safety Explained

Written by: Genevieve Dugal

Last Updated on February 7, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team


Does Garlic Kill Fleas On Cats? Vet Reviewed Effectiveness Safety Explained


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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In addition to warding off vampires, garlic has multiple dietary and medicinal virtues. This bulbous plant can spice up the flavor of almost any dish while taking care of your cardiovascular health, protecting your liver, and combatting infectious diseases. However, despite all its amazing benefits, there’s one thing garlic can’t do, which is kill fleas on your feline companion!

It has been suggested that feeding your cat garlic may make your pet less “palatable” to fleas, but cats are highly susceptible to the toxic effects of garlic. Therefore, garlic will not kill fleas on your cat and you should NEVER give garlic to cats, even topically.

Let’s see what researchers, veterinarians, and other feline experts say about using garlic to repel fleas on cats.

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Why You Shouldn’t Use Garlic as a Flea Repellent on Your Cat

The world’s most important domestic cat pest has a name: Ctenocephalides felis felis, also known simply as the flea.

Over the years, there has been interest in using environmentally friendly approaches to combat these tiny undesirables. However, no biological, natural, or cultural means have been discovered to alleviate flea infestations. And while garlic is often touted as a natural remedy to ward off fleas on cats, there’s no scientific evidence to back this claim up.

On the one hand, some flea home remedies suggest that garlic, especially mixed with brewer’s yeast, repel fleas. The theory is that after eating this unsavory mixture, the garlicky smell that emanates from the cat’s (or dog’s) body makes it an unappealing treat for fleas. But vets often warn against this potentially toxic treatment method, mentioning that garlic is not an effective flea or tick repellent on dogs or cats because they don’t sweat like humans.

Worse still, garlic can be toxic to cats, especially in large amounts.

vet holding burma cat
Image Credit: Elpisterra, Shutterstock

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How Toxic Is Garlic to Cats?

Garlic, onions, chives, and leeks are all part of the genus Allium spp. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, garlic is three to five times more toxic than onion, and cats are the species most susceptible to developing toxicosis from ingesting large amounts.

However, toxicosis has been reported in cats after ingesting less than a teaspoon of cooked onions. So, knowing that garlic is three to five times more toxic than onions, why risk giving it to your cat? Until there is solid scientific evidence that garlic can help kill fleas while being safe for cats, keep your feline companion away from it.

Signs of Garlic Toxicosis in Cats

Toxic doses of garlic damage red blood cells, making them more likely to rupture. If you’re concerned that your cat has ingested garlic, watch out for the following signs:

  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums
  • increased heart rate
  • Drool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea


How to Protect Your Cat From Fleas

Simply put, there are safer and more effective flea solutions than giving your little feline garlic! So, if you suspect your cat has fleas, consult your veterinarian for advice on the most appropriate and safest flea control options for your furry friend.

owner with gloves applying flea treatment to cat
Image Credit: Anastasiya Tsiasemnikava, Shutterstock

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Bottom Line

Garlic is a powerful plant with many therapeutic benefits for humans. There is not enough scientific evidence that proves it can safely and effectively kill fleas in your cats. Besides, its toxic effect on pets far exceeds the limited deterrent effect on fleas that this plant can have.

In short, feel free to use as much garlic as you want to ward off vampires, but keep it out of reach of your feline friends!

Featured Image Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay

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