Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:
I am in the process of training my cat Ginny to be comfortable in a Kitty Holster harness so that we can go on walks! I’m very excited because she seems to be making good progress/freaking out less while in it. She is my first cat and I am trying to do everything perfectly to be the best cat mama possible, which means extensive research on EVERYTHING. But the one thing I can’t find a good resource for is flea treatment. She is currently an indoor-only cat and won’t be ready to go outside with her harness for at least another week at this rate. I am trying to figure out what to do for flea treatment–is it even necessary for a cat who only goes outside occasionally, and is supervised the whole time? I am planning to walk her only when there are not other pets around that I can see and there are not really too many wild animals who frequent our apartment complex. Some people I’ve read online say if your cat is even outside on a deck, they need flea treatment, while others say they do not use it and have never had a problem. I have also read concerning reviews of basically every flea protection product saying either it did not work or made their cat very sick. I obviously do not want Ginny to get fleas, but I’m also concerned that she might react badly to a flea treatment that may not even be necessary. Thank you for any advice you may have!
~ Katie and Ginny
Thomas: Wow, thank you for working so hard to be such a great kitty mom, Katie! It’s really exciting to have your first cat and learn everything you can to keep her healthy and happy. Purrs to you!
Bella: We know there are a lot of concerns with flea prevention medications, and we’ve seen a lot of people express those concerns. We also know that some flea products have seriously harmed or even killed animals.
Tara: But if you’re going to be taking Ginny outside, she definitely needs to have flea protection. Even if she just gets one flea on her, that flea could lay eggs and before you know it, both your cat and your house are infested! Yuck!
Thomas: However, some flea prevention products are more effective than others. As time goes on, fleas can become “immune” to the pesticides used in these products.
Bella: The only one we know to be both effective and safe is Cheristin for cats (Note: We’re NOT getting paid for this endorsement; we just know it works and that’s why we’re recommending it). That’s what our vet–a cat-only clinic–sells. Since they’re a great clinic, we know they’ve done their research, so they know what to sell to their clients.
Tara: No cat enjoys “flea goop,” as we call it, but fleas are even worse. I know. When I was outside, lost and lonely, I got fleas, and the first people who found me had their vet put another flea prevention product on me. That one didn’t work very well, and Mama had to wait a whole month before she could put some Cherestin on me (and Thomas and Bella, too, because she didn’t want them to get fleas from me).
Thomas: The thing about fleas is that they can live anywhere, and by taking her outside, she will be exposed to them even if you only walk her when no other animals are around.
Bella: When Mama took Siouxsie to work, Siouxsie got Cheristin. See, where Mama worked, all pets that came to the office were required to be on flea prevention. And it’s a good thing, too, because even though all the pets were supposed to be protected, there were still fleas in the building.
Tara: Really? Wow. Fleas indoors, too? That makes me itch just thinking about it!
Thomas: And Mama had Bella and me on flea prevention too, so that if a flea accidentally got into our home, we wouldn’t get infested.
Bella: We didn’t like getting gooped, but we like fleas even less, so we tolerated it.
Tara: The most important thing you can do to safely use flea prevention products is to follow the directions. Most of these “spot on” products are not for kittens under the age of 8 weeks, for example.
Thomas: Sometimes people mistakenly get flea control products for dogs and apply them on their cats because they think it’s the same formula but less expensive because it comes in bigger doses. The thing is, often they’re not the same product.
Bella: That’s right. Flea prevention products for dogs sometimes contain medicines that are toxic to cats, so it’s really important to only use products that are labeled for cats.
Tara: We’d definitely suggest that you ask your veterinarian which flea prevention products seem to be the most effective in your area. It can vary from place to place, believe it or not!
Thomas: We’ve found that collars (even the eight-month ones) are not as effective as skin drops like Cheristin. Powders and sprays are even less effective, and they could contain medicines that aren’t safe for Ginny.
Bella: So, the bottom line is: yes, Katie, you should use “flea goop” on Ginny when you take her outdoors. All it takes is one flea to start an infestation.
Tara: What about you other readers? Do you have any tips on flea prevention products or helping Katie train Ginny to walk in a harness? Please share your thoughts in the comments.