Nursing cat with fleas.

I have an outdoor cat who has fleas and she just had kittens 2 days ago. I was wondering if it is safe to use a flea collar on her.

Maybe, but the poor kittens have fleas now too, and you can’t put flea collars on them.
You can use a flea comb on all of them. This will also make them more affectionate and comfortable around humans as adults.

From my experience of working in a vet clinic, I’d have to say that flea collars are pretty much darn useless, especially on an outside cat. Plus, ANY collar on an outside cat is dangerous, as they can get it hung on something and choke themselves.

For the momma cat, I would recommend getting some Advantage or Frontline - you can now order this online (used to have to buy from a vet clinic). If you’re not familiar with those products, they consist of a small amount (a few drops) of liquid in a tube that is squeezed/dripped onto a single spot on the cat’s skin. The liquid spreads all over the body through either the oil glands or roots of the hair, and provides flea protection for about a month. Usually they will kill all fleas currently on the cat in less than 12 hours.

The kittens are a different matter, depending on their age. I’m not sure what it says on the labels now, but basically it is safe to use Advantage or Frontline on them at 6 weeks of age. If they are younger than that, there are particular flea-killing products that are safe to use on very young kittens - you may have to obtain them from a veterinarian. However, it is not a good idea to apply these products directly to the kitten - what we did at the clinic was apply the product to a towel, rub the kitten all over with it, and if possible keep them wrapped up in it for a few minutes. Touchy places like on the head and around the eyes we did by putting the product on a paper towel and dabbing it on.

A serious flea infestation can easily kill very young kittens, so please be sure to treat the kittens as well as the momma.

Another thing to try is bathing the cats in lemon-scented dish soap. This is what the vet I used to work for would recommend. Supposedly, the lemon stuns the fleas and you can pick them off and wash them down the drain.

Dishsoaps may have detergents that can burn kittens’ skin. My package of Frontline for cats says not for use in kittens under 8 weeks old. How about the old fashioned flea comb?

Dawn Dish Detergent is supposed to be an effective flea killer, too - I have been to several vet clinics that use it. However, you are supposed to water it down quite a bit to avoid skin damage. My vet won’t use it, though, because he says anything that is not specifically labelled for use with cats can cause an unpredictable reaction, as well as causing skin/coat problems because the pH balance is wrong.

However, doing anything that is a ‘one-time kill’, like bathing or flea-combing, if only going to last as long as it takes for a new bunch of fleas to jump on the cats. (Unless they are going to be de-fleaed (sp?) and placed in a flea-free environment.

You can use a dip labelled as safe for cats, but even those are not really safe - we had several cats that reacted badly to supposedly cat-safe dips. Advantage or Frontline is much safer and is effective for much longer. Most of the grooming establishments and vet clinics that I know of are moving away from using any dips at all, except in certain cases - they are using Advantage or Frontline instead.

I don’t know how widespread this trend is, just that is becoming common in the eastern US.

Last year, I think (not sure how long it has been), Bayer sent a notice to the vet clinics stating that Advantage had been tested and proven safe for, I thought, 6 week old kittens, but maybe I’m mis-remembering and it was 8 weeks old. I haven’t looked at a box recently to see of this is what is on the label now. I haven’t heard anything about Frontline - last I knew they were still trying to find out if it really does kill ear mites.

However, most kittens that come into the clinics around here are strays, and their exact age is not known. If they look like they are old enough we put the Advantage on them, so we are probably putting it on kittens as young as 5 weeks sometimes, with no ill effects. That’s not proof, of course, just anecdotal evidence. I wouldn’t put it on a kitten that was obviously only two or 3 weeks old.

Revolution is the absolutely best stuff and was tested safe on 6 week old kittens before it was ever released, but it’s kind of pricey for many pet owners, as it kills EVERYTHING - fleas, flea eggs, intestinal worm eggs, heartworm microfilaria, ear mites, ticks, and sarcoptic mange mites. It also has to be gotten from a veterinarian as it is a prescription item.

It is vital to get those fleas off the kittens, they can have a significant effect on their health by taking up enough blood to harm them, especially if they are very young.

Talk to your vet. There is a certain dish soap you make a solution of and bath your pet with it and it kills the fleas! While bathing the cat and kittens, change the bedding they use and spray the floor around it with a flea spray. Most are harmless to pets once they dry.

Yes, you really need to do something fast. I lost two kittens to fleas several years ago, mostly because I was too afraid to use flea powder! I’m wondering if there are any natural remedies out there? I have used garlic on puppies to rid them of worms, and I think I’ve heard something about it in relation to fleas. At the zoo, we use flea powder in the rodent cages to control mites and I have often put it in cages with very young animals. We just sprinkle it through the litter. Since mice and rats have a fairly high infant mortality rate, it’s hard to say how safe it is, but I really don’t notice much of a difference between treated and untreated cages. It does do in the mites! You might try putting Advantage on Mom, confining the kittens and powdering the bedding. Good Luck!