How To Get Rid Of Fleas On Cats Fast

If you’ve ever been in the situation where you comb through your cat’s fur and find a live flea, then you get an award for bravery.

Unfortunately, I had to overcome this terrorizing event recently. My indoor cats have never had fleas over the last 4 years in my home, but they picked up the fleas at a hotel in New York before the cats and I flew across the country back to California. 

From discovery to eradicating them in the house and on my cats, it took a week and a half. Some things worked and some didn’t.

I’ll share below my own experience on how to get rid of fleas on cats fast.

Symptoms Of Fleas

As I write this, I’m already getting itchy. I don’t even want to think about this horrendous experience, but if it helps others, I have to power through it.

Excessive scratching and excessive licking are both symptoms of fleas. But it’s hard to gauge whether they’re overly scratching or licking. Why?

Well, you know how cats scratch behind their ears with their hind leg? It’s a cat thing and not something to be alarmed about.

And you know how cats also lick themselves? Yeah, that’s also a cat thing.

So, how the heck do you know which symptoms actually point to fleas?

For me, it was noticing that Nala was licking her butt more often than not. She usually licked her private parts after using the litter box.

But I noticed that she was licking her privates every half an hour or so when she wasn’t napping.

That was really the symptom that got me concerned. I made a same-day appointment with the vet.

There was one more. My sister had been getting a lot bug bites around her ankles the last few days that we noticed.

The strange thing is, the other 2 people in the house, including me, were not getting any bites that we were aware of.

So, the vet combed through Nala, but she has very short hair, so nothing was really showing up on the tooth of the comb except one pretty big black speck.

But, when I told the vet that one person was getting bit, the vet was quite certain that it was fleas.

And the vet also said that flea bites may only show up on certain people who are allergic to the bites.

The real answer would be if I found them in Charlie’s long fur. I knew what I was tasked with when I got home after the vet visit with Nala.

How To Check If Your Cat Has Fleas

After I got home from the vet, I combed through Charlie’s long hair with a stainless steel fine-toothed flea comb for long hair.

And sure enough, much to my freak out dismay, I found some dead fleas and a few live ones and a ton of black dots.

If you’ve never dealt with a flea infestation on your pet before, then here are a few things to know.

First, the actual little buggers will come in varying sizes, but you’ll know they are fleas, because they have little legs.

But, you may not actually find any live or dead fleas, because they may have jumped off your cat back onto the carpet or bedding after biting your cat’s poor skin.

But you’ll see a ton of black dots, because they are the little droppings made by the fleas after biting your cat as they burrow through your cat’s fur like a maze.

To check if these dots are flea droppings and not just dirt, after combing your cat’s hair, rub the teeth of the comb on a wet paper napkin. You’ll see little black dots at first that instantly turn red.

The red is the blood of your cat that these little blood suckers stole and passed through their system into droppings.

That’s how you know your cat has fleas.

How to Get Rid of Fleas On Cats Fast

Initially, I put the monthly treatment that I got from the vet on the nape of my cats. But that didn’t eradicate all the fleas.

So, here is a combination of the things I used to get rid of fleas in one day.

1. Flea Treatment Bath

I really didn’t want to give my cats a flea treatment bath, because the chemical in the flea treatment is just awful.

But with Charlie’s long hair, the monthly treatment alone wasn’t working. And, combing wasn’t working either, because I would keep finding more flea dirt or fleas.

So, I gave them a bath using the Advantage treatment shampoo.

how to get rid of fleas on cats fast

I gave Nala and Charlie a bath separately with the help of another person. They were clawing, scratching and yowling, but it had to be done.

You can use it like any cat bath shampoo. First, you wet the hair. Then, you lather the shampoo in their fur thoroughly. VERY thoroughly.

Then, you let it stay in the fur for 10 minutes.

After that, you rinse it out thoroughly with lukewarm water.

And after their hair dried, I didn’t find one single flea or flea dirt in either of their fur (*knock on wood*).

2. Treat the House with RAID Flea Killer

Earlier that day before the flea treatment bath, we treated the house, paying special attention to the carpet, bedding, and furniture with fabric/upholstery.

We used the RAID Flea Killer spray.

We sprayed this bad boy on every inch of the carpet and upholstered furniture and bedding, making sure to get it in every nook and cranny.

After literally raiding the nearby Target store, we resorted to some other lesser known brand, the Black Flag.

They both worked well.

We treated the whole house twice (over a week). And at each time, we used 3 spray bottles.

We sprayed generously all over the surfaces, and then left the house for half a day.

And, during that time, we quarantined the cats in the bathroom where we DID NOT spray.

Make sure your cats are not in the same room as where you’re treating.

how to get rid of fleas on cats fast - raid flea killer spray

3. High Heat Dry Your Bedding & Clothing

If your cats sleep on your bed and you cuddled them a lot during the flea infestation, put the bedding, clothing, and other fabric that the cats have been on in the dryer.

Run the dryer at HIGH HEAT for 20 minutes.

I recommend doing this everyday for a week until you don’t find any more fleas on your cat after the treatment.

4. Apply Monthly Prevention Treatment On Cats

Finally, after the cats were dried from their bath, we treated them with Vectra, which is what I got from the vet.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Vectra mentions on their website that they only sell through licensed veterinarians. That means, if you see them being sold on Amazon or a non-veterinarian, it could be a fake product. Purchase this only from your local veterinarian. Otherwise, get Advantage II.

This alone did not work on long-haired Charlie. We had to give him the bath because the infestation was too much.

But if it was just the beginning stages of finding fleas, then the treatment alone will work as long as your house has already been treated before.

There are 4 stages of the flea cycle, and each stage has to be eradicated. The stages are:

  1. Fleas – that grow from baby fleas to big ass adult fleas
  2. Flea dirt – the poop that the fleas drop after they suck the poor cat’s blood
  3. Flea egg – white translucent
  4. Flea larvae – the stage between after it hatches from the egg and hasn’t grown into a flea yet. These look like little threads. They’re thin and stringy and short.

vectra for cats flea treatment

When you apply Vectra on the nape of the cat’s neck, the treatment is supposed to spread all over their body over time.

And when in contact with the flea, the treatment supposedly kills all 4 stages of the flea.

Again, the Vectra alone did not work for me. So, I’m more using it as insurance for the next little bit.

It’s easy to apply though, which is the advantage. You push down the cap that looks like the little pawn guy in chess.

Then, you apply it on the skin on the back of the cat’s neck in an upward stripe motion three times.

You don’t apply it in one area only on the back of the neck, because the chemical is so strong that it could leave your cat bald in that area. So, 3 upward stripes, burrowed in the fur, as close as possible to the skin.

vectra monthly flea treatment for cats

how to get rid of fleas fast on cats vectra

Continue to apply the treatment every month.

5. Continue To Comb Your Cat Everyday

Finally, keep coming your cat everyday with the flea comb to check for fleas and flea dirt.

If you keep finding them even after the treatment and the bath, then your house needs to be treated inside and out again.

If you don’t find them anymore, then congratulations. You outwitted the fleas. Make sure to give your cats the monthly treatment to prevent the fleas from coming back.

Slower But Safer: Homemade Cat Flea Remedy

So, the steps I used to get rid of fleas on cats fast are: 1) flea treatment bath, 2) treating the house with Raid flea killer spray, and 3) monthly treatment for the first few months.

But, if you don’t freak out as much as me upon discovering fleas and you’d rather take your time to try other more natural methods, try these:

  1. Add Dawn dish soap in a pan full of water. Put a desk lamp directly on the Dawn-water mixture overnight or over 24 hours. Then, find the fleas attracted and dead in the water mixture. It’s disgusting and I’ve not tried it but it looks like it works. Here, watch this. Don’t say I didn’t warn you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bm7t30OkiHo
  2. Shampoo your cat with Dawn dish soap rather than a flea treatment shampoo. Lather, leave on, and rinse the same way you would as the flea treatment shampoo I used above. The dish soap actually does kill the fleas. I saw it with my own two eyes. But make sure to rinse it completely and thoroughly off your cat because that stuff isn’t good for your cat to lick and ingest.
  3. According to the comments section of the video above, apparently salt works great in killing the fleas as well. I think this is definitely worth a shot since salt is not harmful to your cats and is totally safe to try.
  4. I’ve seen people recommend lemon-vinegar-water spray on furniture, but I’m not totally sure it works. I’d like to hear testimonials of this.
  5. 1 teaspoon of unflavored vodka + geranium essential oil makes a flea prevention collar apparently. Again, I’ve not tried this, but this might actually be worth a shot, assuming you don’t have multi-cats who groom each other and could ingest the vodka.

I won’t include any more I found, because other methods sound quite hippie, and I don’t want to recommend something I don’t have high hopes for.

I hope you found it helpful to read how I got rid of fleas on my cats fast and that you’re not alone going through this ordeal. Good luck!