A gray and white cat scratching and itching.
A gray and white cat scratching and itching. Photography ©chendongshan | Thinkstock.

9 Methods of Natural Flea Control for Cats

Concerned about using toxic chemicals to treat and prevent fleas on your kitty? We’ve compiled nine natural methods of flea control for cats that you can easily try yourself at home.

Monthly topical treatments have been a godsend for those of us who remember trying to battle flea infestations with sprays, collars, powders and even nasty, toxic “flea dips.” But if you have a chronic health problem, chemical sensitivity, young children in your home or kittens with fleas — or even if you just want to go easier on your cat and on the Earth — you might want to use less toxic alternatives to keep the pests at bay. Here are some safer ways for natural flea control for cats, your home and your yard.

1. Give your cat a bath

A ginger cat getting a bath.
Bathing your cat is a good flea control method. Photography ©Ulianna | Thinkstock.

Yes, I know that sounds ridiculous, but if your cat has a lot of fleas, bathing your cat with a non-irritating product such as unscented castile soap diluted fifty fifty with water will be very helpful. Before you bathe your cat, lather up some soap around his neck and ears to keep the fleas from fleeing to the dry ground of his head. Follow the bath with a thorough combing using a fine-toothed flea comb.

2. Flea-comb your cat every day

Make sure you pay extra attention to the neck, stomach and the base of the tail, because that’s where fleas are most likely to live on your cat. Dip your flea-filled comb into a jar of water with a film of dish detergent on the top. This will drown the fleas.

3. Set a non-toxic trap

Put a dish of soapy water under a night-light near where your cat sleeps. Fleas will be attracted to the warmth of the light and drown in the soapy water. If you’d rather not put water dishes near where your cat sleeps, electric flea traps are another option.

4. Launder your cat’s bedding regularly

By washing your cat’s bedding and blankets you use on your furniture in hot water and drying them on high heat, you’ll kill flea eggs and larvae. Wash any cloth throw rugs, too.

5. Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum

Vacuum your entire home, including the furniture, at least once a week. Some experts recommend putting a mothball in your vacuum bag to kill the fleas. When you’re done, take the bag right outside. If you have a bagless vacuum, empty the dust receptacle outdoors and wash it thoroughly with soap and water before bringing it back inside.

6. Try diatomaceous earth, which dehydrates fleas

Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE) on your carpets and floors, leave it down for as long as possible, and then vacuum it (and the dead fleas) up. Do not use diatomaceous earth designed for use in pools, because pool-grade DE has been treated with toxic chemicals. If you have breathing issues, you may want to use a mask when you sprinkle the DE around, because it is a light powder that could trigger respiratory problems.

7. Clean your yard and give it some worms

Keep your lawn mowed short, remove debris such as brush piles, and sprinkle lots of beneficial nematodes — special roundworms that love to eat flea larvae — around your yard.

8. Do not give your cat garlic

A lot of natural living sites recommend that you give your pet garlic as a flea control tool, but garlic is highly toxic to cats and can cause life-threatening anemia.

9. Also, be careful of essential oils

Another widely touted option for flea control is the use of essential oils, either in your cat’s food or on her fur. But many essential oils contain substances that are toxic to cats. Do not use any essential oils on your cat unless you’ve been advised to do so by a cat-savvy essential oil practitioner. For more information about aromatherapy for cats, check out this post by Celeste Yarnall, author of The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care.

Tell us: Have you used these or any other non-toxic methods as natural flea control for cats? How did they work for you? Please share your experience in the comments.

Thumbnail: Photography ©chendongshan | Thinkstock. 

About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their cat advice column, Paws and Effect, since 2003. JaneA dreams of making a great living out of her love for cats.

It’s Flea and Tick Week sponsored by Andis on Catster.com. Stay tuned for more tips on how to keep your cat and household safe from fleas and ticks!

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19 thoughts on “9 Methods of Natural Flea Control for Cats”

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  5. Carolyn Vanderhoff

    I have three cats and all three are indoor/outdoor. They all have flea infestation. I take care of husband with dementia and my daughter who is partially paralyzed. I am also raising my preteen granddaughter. I cannot bathe and comb my cats everyday. Please help with ideas for flea control that are not so time consuming.
    Carolyn Vanderhoff. (I live in NE Fl and fleas are everywhere. Also am retired and money is an object.)

    1. Hi Carolyn,
      We suggest reaching out to a local vet for the best protection against fleas. These articles might provide some insight, too:

    2. use lavender oil mixed water 1 to 8 ratio and apply on the cat every few days. you get 50ml above cheaper online. it smells gr8

    1. Hi there Anna,

      Thanks for commenting! We suggest contacting your vet to see what amount of coconut oil is right for your cat.

  6. use a commercially provided or vet prescribed feline flea shampoo. do NOT use human hand soaps or detergents. their skin can be horribly dried out and painful.

  7. i just give him Advantage II every 2 or 3 months. if i track in fleas from the mailbox, he kicks for a few hours and done. do NOT use Frontline or Haartz. they can kill your dog or cat, seriously. google it. and he actually jumps into the tub for his bath–must make him feel really good!

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  9. I look after two cats regularly for a friend. In the last six months, they both suffered from a bad infestation of fleas. I live in the UK. I had been using a very ineffective flea control spot-on and flea spray – every few months around the house. My friend is away a lot.

    One cat, both are indoor, got outside and I think the fleas jumped on to him then. I had to give daily baths to one that would let me – and who had the worst infestation. He didn’t like to be fully immersed in a bath. So I used a bowl of warm water with a few drops of washing up liquid in it. I put him on a towel, on a bed, and then combed through his hair with a flea comb and I kept constantly dipping it in the water. Tonnes of fleas and eggs came off. I wiped off the soap with a flannel/cloth.

    After this I got another clean bowl of warmish water and put about two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in it and generously daubed this over the cat’s coat. He was left to dry and he would mostly lick this off. Fleas don’t like apple cider vinegar. I also put a drop or two of apple cider vinegar in a second bowl of water in their feeding area.

    I had to repeat the washing/bath process several times. I treated the cats with Advantage spot-on about 3 times during a month – a week a part. I also thoroughly vacuumed the house, got rid of an old hall carpet, god rid of old duvets that cats had been using and used Indorex, hard core flea spray around the house. Within 3 weeks the fleas had gone.

    You need to keep treating the cats once a month for fleas and keep spraying areas, wash cat bedding and keep the house as clean as possible. Apparently fleas are becoming resistant to flea treatments.

  10. california dreamer

    I was watching HSN yesterday & saw a nontoxic flea foam & spray for the home. It’s called Fleadome & I am seriously thinking about buying some for my Claire, she is an indoor cat but I want to be prepared. Thank you for all the great cat articles, my husband & I read nearly all of them, time permitting, we want to be great parents to our little girl & we are hoping as soon as we relocate to extend our feline family, as many rescues as she’ll (Claire is the boss) allow us to have, but she must approve them 1st! LOL!

  11. Can vinegar help to rid a cat from fleas? I heard you can put a little in their drinking water or give them a bath in a diluted mixture?

  12. I have used food grade DE for years with excellent success. My sisters home and yard were treated with DE to rid her entire area of fleas. I do not have a flea problem at my house but if I see one, out comes the DE. Deer frequent my yard so I use a duster to kill any ticks around the perimeter of the area I let the cats use. I also sprinkle it on the horse manure as I fill the wheelbarrow. No more flies in the barn!

  13. Katherine Lake

    I have used brewer’s yeast successfully for years to keep fleas off my cats. I also take Vitamin B6 to discourage fleas (and mosquitoes) from biting me. Sprinkle the brewer’s yeast powder all over the cat and rub it well into the fur. The cat will lick it, thus getting the Vitamin B6 into its system for long term deflea-ing.

  14. I have always resorted to the medical care from the vet but am becoming concerned about the amount of chemicals as my two cats age.
    I have heard about “brewer’s yeast” given to cats to deter fleas and am wondering of your opinion.

  15. Donna Kopenhaver

    I have 7 inside cats 1 outside. I de-flea twice a day with a flea comb & I use a drop of dish soap & warm water in a plastic coffee container. I comb thru and quickly dispose of fleas Over the water with my finger/nail. I get very few jumpers. They drown & I toss them after death in the brush outside or flush the water..

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