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Cats and Fleas: Which Repellents are Safe?

Cats and Fleas: Which Repellents are Safe?

Poor itchy kitties! Summer is flea time and those nasty little bites can make our cats just miserable. What to do? Some folks swear by garlic. Others say pyrethrin-based powders do the trick. But some natural remedies may be dangerous to your pet.

Find out which remedies are safe–and which you should avoid–to keep your kitty flea-free.


Flea powders containing pyrethrins (derived from chrysanthemums) have been generally considered “safe”, but research has shown that these powders can be ingested by cats during grooming. Avoid them.

Although feeding raw garlic to your dog is a tried-and-true remedy for canine fleas, research now suggests that garlic and cats don’t mix. Avoid using raw garlic with your feline: it can cause a dangerous form of anemia and even lead to death.

The safest methods of flea control begin with the environment:

Wash your cat’s bedding and any area rugs frequently. Fleas can’t swim and hot water will kill them.

Vacuum often and dispose of bags in an airtight container, or freeze them first to kill flea, eggs, and larvae.

Beneficial nematodes may be used to dust your lawn. These creatures will infest and kill fleas, but are harmless to pets and humans.

The best defense against fleas seems to be a healthy overall immune system. Keep your cat in top form by feeding her a diet rich in omega-3 and omega-6 oils, including a small amount of brewer’s yeast to meals, and avoiding over-processed foods with by-products.

If your cat already has fleas, bathe her with a mild detergent once a week to remove adult fleas, larvae, and eggs. Groom her with a flea comb between baths. Dip the comb in water after every stroke to drown any fleas you comb out.

Read more: Pets, Cats, Remedies & Treatments, Safety

Adapted from “50 Simple Ways to Pamper your Cat” By Arden Moore (Storey Books, 2000). Copyright (c) 2000 by Arden Moore. Reprinted by permission of Storey Books.
Adapted from “50 Simple Ways to Pamper your Cat” By Arden Moore (Storey Books, 2000).

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.


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1:25PM PDT on Aug 23, 2013

Thanks for the tips. I like Nicole's comments about catnip so I think I might buy a few plants to put around the garden.

9:12AM PST on Jan 26, 2013

Thanks for sharing with us animal lovers!!!

4:46AM PST on Dec 16, 2012

helpful! thank you!

4:53AM PST on Dec 8, 2012

Thanks. Tigger & I like to wash with Vermont Soap Organics. It smells so good. It has coconut, olive & jojoba oils. Essential oil blends of tea tree, orange, aloe vera and rosemary leaves.
He dosen't really like the baths but he is so good that he will tolerate it if I work fast. I just get buckets full of warm water ready to quickly rinse him and nice soft towels to dry him and cuddle him. He's getting to be a senior just like me with oh no mom - Please hurry.

2:20PM PST on Dec 7, 2012

Thank you so much,for the info!!! Very interesting and really helpful!!!

1:44PM PST on Dec 7, 2012

If you have fennel, a handful of withered leaves used as a brush can help

2:22PM PST on Dec 5, 2012

thank you very much this was really helpful.

4:15PM PST on Dec 3, 2012

Thanking you.

1:47AM PST on Dec 3, 2012


8:57PM PST on Dec 2, 2012

I have found that catnip oil works for my cats, the only one allowed outside (via leash and harness) has never gotten fleas and she sleeps the day away in the catnip plant and we use to have a flea infestion in the house because of one of the dogs, but they left her alone like she was death alive. Used crushed catnip leaf (fresh) by sprinkling them on the dogs and you could see them jumping away from the leaf

Citrus is suppose to work as well

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