My cat has fleas

Login or register to comment, vote, answer, or ask a question.

QuestionsCategory: Flea InfestationsMy cat has fleas
bethanyhoward95 asked 4 months ago

Hi, about 6 days ago my boyfriend and I discovered that our cat has fleas. We are thinking that they may have been here longer though because I noticed flea dirt in our cat’s bed probably the week before, but at the time I didn’t know it was flea dirt, I thought maybe it was just dandruff or something. We also noticed the red wet flea dirt spots maybe a week or two before, on the sink and toilet, not knowing what they were. We have been bathing him in dawn dish soap every other day and combing through his fur with a flea comb every day. We also put fipronil flea & tick treatment on him two days after we noticed the fleas. We have been vaccuming the carpeted rooms every day as well as spraying the baseboards of the walls and furniture with sentry Home flea spray. We are finding less and less fleas each day, but as of today we are still findingj live fleas, like in the vaccum bag and in his water bowl. We’ve also been doing laundry every few days and keeping it off the floor, and mopping the tiled floors. Are we doing enough to get rid of the fleas? How soon will they be gone?

2 Answers
Adam Retzer Staff answered 3 months ago


It sounds like you’re doing enough to end the infestation. It’ll just take a bit of time before you stop seeing fleas, usually around 8 weeks. This is why pet treatments usually come in 3-4 month packages.

Eggs, larvae, and pupae make up 95-99% of infestations, and they live unseen in the environment. Once pet treatments begin, there should be no new generation of eggs. However, the immature stages in the environment still need to mature, emerge, and die.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to be washing your cat with Dawn so often. It can be done once to establish control. However, Dawn is designed to remove oil, and it will remove the animal’s natural oils. As a result, the cat can get dry, irritated skin. Even with gentle shampoos formulated for pets, it’s recommend not to shampoo more than once a month. Also, you may be reducing the efficacy of the pet treatments when you shampoo, as they work by incorporating in the pet’s body oil.

You don’t need to spray the environment so often either. The most important ingredient is the insect growth regulator (IGR), which is pyriproxyfen in the product you are using. It’ll remain active for 7 months indoors. It works by mimicking insect hormones. Exposed eggs and larvae can’t mature into adults. Unfortunately, sprays (and vacuuming) won’t affect all of the immature fleas, as they live in refuges that are hard to penetrate (often deep within carpets). So, as mentioned earlier, patience will be required for these stages to mature emerge. Still, the IGR is useful for preventing future infestations. Any eggs falling onto the treated surfaces won’t be able to develop. The spray you are using has a relatively low concentration of IGR compared to other products available. You may want to consider other sprays.

Mopping the tiled floors can reduce the efficacy of environmental treatments if you sprayed there. Dry vacuuming doesn’t affect residual activity, but when water is employed it can.

I’m not sure what pet treatment you are using, but if it’s only fipronil, you may want to consider finding a product with fipronil and an IGR (pyriproxyfen or methoprene). Adult females can’t lay eggs when exposed to an IGR. So even if they somehow survive the fipronil, the IGR will prevent new generations. It adds a second layer of control. Most products have the IGR option. For example, Sentry Fiproguard only has fipronil, but Sentry Fiproguard Plus has fipronil and methoprene.

It sounds like you are on the right track for the most part. Continue with the monthly pet treatments, vacuum regularly, and launder any items the cat may be sleeping on weekly.

I hope this was useful!

bethanyhoward95 replied 3 months ago

Thanks so much! We have stopped bathing him in dawn for now. We did give him a bath 2 days ago in sergeant’s gold flea & tick shampoo for cats. We have been using the Kroger brand fipronil for cats. It contains the same amount of fipronil as frontline, not sure about the other ingredients. It was $19 I believe. We are seeing very little flea dirt on him now. It’s mostly appearing on the bathroom sink and toilet. We’ve only been finding about 1-3 fleas per day either on him or in his water dish or on the bathroom floor. The ones we’ve been finding on him are alive. Last week I kept finding flea bites on my ankles and feet. I don’t think I have any more new ones right now. Does this mean that his treatment is working? Or should we try another flea treatment next time? We are on a budget, which is why we decided to try the Kroger brand fipronil.

Adam Retzer Staff replied 3 months ago

It sounds like it’s working if the numbers are diminishing. You shouldn’t need to switch treatments if it’s working. I was just trying to provide alternatives that may be more effective, to make sure you have all the details.

Keep in mind you will likely continue to see fleas here and there for about 8 weeks. You’ll probably see some on your cat too, as it will take new fleas a few hours to succumb to the insecticide. This is normal, and doesn’t mean the product isn’t working.

bethanyhoward95 answered 2 months ago

Hi Adam,
It’s been about 2 months now since the beginning of the flea infestation. We’ve since tried frontline plus instead for our cat’s next dose of flea treatment. We are seeing less fleas, most we’ve been finding on him are dead but some are still alive somehow. Is this supposed to be happening? We treated all the carpets with diatomaceous earth also (once). We’ve been vacuuming every other or every couple of days. We’ve reduced how often we bathe him in dawn dish soap. Does it seem like the infestation is almost over now?

bethanyhoward95 replied 2 months ago

I forgot to add that we’ve only found maybe 1-3 fleas when we comb him, and that’s not every day, just every few days.

Adam Retzer Staff replied 2 months ago

It sounds like the infestation is diminishing. It’s not uncommon to find live fleas on treated pets. It will take the insecticide a few hours to kill the fleas. And 95-99% of infestations are immature stages in the environment, resulting in many adults emerging.

That said, you may want to forgo the Dawn shampooing. As mentioned, Dawn is specifically designed to remove oil. Pet treatments work through the animal’s natural oils (read more). You may be reducing the efficacy of the Frontline, and that may be why fleas are surviving (maybe more than normal).