The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

May 11, 2010

Natural Flea Killer. Need Help!

I’ve complained before about how bad the fleas are here in Oakland. And the item in my plastic tally that makes me the saddest are the packages of Frontline flea killer that occasionally show up.  They make me sad not so much because of the plastic packaging but the toxicity of the chemicals inside.

Frontline flea killer

Frontline is made from a combination of fipronil and s-methoprene.

Environmental Impact of Fipronil

According to the National Pesticide Information Center’s fact sheet on fipronil(PDF),

  • The U.S. EPA has classified fipronil as “Group C – possible human carcinogen,” based on “increases in thyroid follicular cell tumors in both sexes of the rat.”
  • Fipronil is highly toxic to bobwhite quail and pheasants
  • Fipronil is highly to very highly toxic to marine and freshwater fish and freshwater invertebrates, including oysters.
  • Fipronil is highly toxic to honeybees!

That last item is what worries me the most, as honeybee populations have been declining at an alarming rate. Honeybees pollinate approximately 1/3 of U.S. crops. Without them, there goes much of our food supply. I’m not saying fipronil is responsible for Colony Collapse Disorder, but I sure wish I didn’t have to use a flea treatment that could contribute to it.

Fortunately for the bees, our cats never go outside, so the environmental impact of the stuff pretty much stays in our house and affects the cats and Michael and me. If we had kids, they would be exposed to it too.

Environmental Impact of S-Methoprene

S-Methoprene is a hormone disruptor meant to inhibit juvenile insects from maturing into adults, and thus breaking the reproductive cycle of fleas and mosquitoes.

Methoprene has been implicated in the development of deformities in some frog species.

There is also debate about whether or not Methoprene can affect lobster populations, lobsters being distantly related to mosquitoes apparently. A 2005 study published in the journal Integrative and Comparative Biology found that low levels of methoprene had adverse effects on lobster larvae (PDF of full article).

Looking for a Natural Flea Killer/Deterrent

Well, not wanting to contribute more toxic chemicals to the environment and our home, I have sought out less harmful alternatives. Less harmful to us. Harmful, of course, to the fleas that are driving our kitties crazy.

Challenges we face:

1) Wall-to-wall carpet that cannot be removed. We are renters, so we can’t do anything about the carpet, in which fleas love to hide. And we can’t really afford to buy a Dyson.

2) Sensitive nervous systems of cats. Unfortunately, cat nervous systems are not like dogs’. What might work for a dog could kill a cat.  Garlic, for example, will repel fleas but is hazardous to cats.  Similarly, you have to be careful with essential oils and cats.

Steps We Have Taken

1) Keep the cats inside. They NEVER go out.

2) Take off our shoes when entering the house. We have always done this. And yet the fleas get in anyway, even though we live on the top floor. How is this happening?

3) Washing the kitties with peppermint soap (since peppermint apparently repels fleas.)

Wet pissed off cat after a bath

Effect of peppermint soap: two pissed off cats and not much (if any) effect on fleas. Soots was scratching again as soon as he dried off.

4) Sprinkling salt all over the carpet:

salt on carpet for fleas

Result: Crunchy carpet. No discernible decrease in fleas.

box of diatomaceous earth5) Diatomaceous Earth. The jury is out. This morning, I vacuumed up all the salt and replaced it with a liberal coating of diatomaceous earth, which is made from the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae.

Unfortunately, what makes this test less than scientific is that I also gave up and administered another dose of Frontline last week. I just couldn’t watch them scratch anymore. So who knows if the diatomaceous earth will help or not? We won’t be able to tell this time around.

And also? I’m worried that I shouldn’t have sprinkled so much d.e. on the carpet. The box warning says to avoid breathing the stuff. I would imagine the effect is similar to breathing sheet rock dust, which construction workers wear masks to avoid. Sitting here typing, I think I feel the stuff in my nose and throat. But that could just be my hypochondria acting up again. Nevertheless, I opened some windows just in case.

My concern: Will the cats kick up the dust and breathe it, running across the floor during the night time crazies? And should I be concerned?

Your Flea Treatment Suggestions

So, what has worked for your cats? Once again, please keep in mind that cats are not just small dogs. If you’ve tried something non-hazardous to cats, humans, bees, and any other animals besides fleas, ticks, or mosquitoes, please let me know!  Oh, and the treatment doesn’t actually have to kill the fleas as long as it keeps them off our kitties and us.

In addition to being a cry for help, this post is my contribution to this week’s Spring Cleaning Get the Junk Out Carnival focusing on pesticides. You can read the carnival posts about the problems with pesticides and how to avoid them here and here.

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8 years ago

This is just the information I was looking for! My dog has been getting fleas lately and nothing I have tried has worked at keeping them away. I am thinking about going to the vet and getting a prescription for some anti flea medicine. I hope I can find something that works soon!

12 years ago

You wrote about this a year ago, so I assume all is well now. Just want to put two cents in about garlic, since at least two people said it was toxic to cats. Though garlic does contain small amounts of the same compound found in onions, n-propyldisulfide, it is in much smaller amounts (a medium sized dog would literally have to eat a bushel of garlic for it to be toxic. Cats are more sensitive, and smaller, but the amount is still ridiculously large). Used wisley, garlic has many health benefits for cats and dogs.

I second the brewers yeast suggestion. I personally use the kind derived from beets versus the making of beer, though I don’t take issue with that kind. My dog does VERY well on brewers yeast and garlic, and avoided picking up fleas during our trip to Florida, even though my mom’s dog had them at the time. My cat won’t eat her food if I put it on, and she picked up the fleas! (Once home to cooler climes, natural soap bathing, flea combing, and some highly diluted essential oil spray took care of them).
One more: The diatomaceous earth in your picture is great for outside, lawn, doorways and windows even (as one person suggested). But if you were to use some inside on “bedding” (yeah, I laugh when I read that too), I would suggest food-grade DE. They could eat it and it wouldn’t hurt them. It’s even given to animals as a dewormer. No, you still don’t want to puff it around for anyone to breathe in. All remedies require a little care and wisdom when utilizing them.
Good for you for wanting to find an alternative to pure poison. It is becoming painfully obvious in the southern states that Frontline, et al, are creating “super fleas”. Even the vets are having a hard time trying to deny it.

lice victim
12 years ago

We recently became victims of head lice. They are very hard to kill apparently and many pesticide shampoos have become non effective and the buggers cannot be drowned. Some people even struggled with them for years! Online we heard many accounts of soaking the hair and scalp in listerine or a similar mouthwash and leaving a shower cap on. WORKED! Rinse in vinegar.

12 years ago

First, Beth–I just discovered your blog and I love it! I have miles to go in terms of reducing plastic, but I might as well start now.

The Frontline issue really gave me pause, though. Lyme disease is huge around here–a friend’s daughter had it three times before kindergarten. I keep our dog out of wooded areas, but we have deer on a daily basis in our yard, and thus deer ticks. I’ll keep checking back here, because I’d love to find something less toxic but still effective.

Joanne Miller
12 years ago

Never put poison on your dog or cat. Or any animal. Read the directions, this stuff, all of it, tells you NOT TO TOUCH it, but, I sleep with my dogs. I can’t not touch it, and it’s ON THE DOGS. If it’s bad for me to get a teenie weenie bit on me, how the hell is it for the animals?

My dogs, two of them, got terribly sick the last time I broke down and used Advantage. I then went to work to find out why. It’s very clear to me, this stuff is very dangerous. Not only to the pets, but to us, and to our families.

Do Not Use poison. Instead, you can erase fleas with a thorough vacuuming of the areas every three days (until they are gone) and using a flea comb, even if you have to trim the hair so it will work (I do that on two of my dogs).

Cedar spray helps too, but doesn’t last long enough, and my dogs hate it. I am also concerned that it may not be good for them. I think it can’t be as bad as the chemicals in Advantage, or worse, some of the over the counter brands, but the diatematious (sp?) earth is worth a try, and I use, BORAX with SALT, to get the guys in the carpet. It has worked for years. We are flea free. With four dogs. Living in rural Irvine California (literally, we have coyotes, bunnies, hawks, bob cats, etc right outside out doors).

Olinda Paul
9 years ago
Reply to  Joanne Miller

Joanne Miller …you are my savior….I just put the borax and salt on my carpet and came back in an hour ……I am not getting bit…Thank you so much. I used equal parts salt and borax. I don’t know how long to leave it on or how much to put on but so far it has worked. Again…so grateful. When can I vacuum it up? I don’t want to do it too soon.

12 years ago

Beth, please don’t use those chemicals on your kitties. I had the same dlillema and only on occassion when fleas were at their worst used this kind of treatment and one of my kitties had a bad reaction and it killed her. And that was after a year of increasing respirtory problems that were so horrid I will not even go into it.
I found that if I dusted the carpet with “20 Mule Team Borax” ( when the pets were out of the room, because they shouldn’t breath it, and then pushed it into the carpet with foot, broom, towel, whatever, and vacuumed regularly and reapplied occasionally that the kitties would have minimal fleas because they would inevitably get into the carpet and die.
Also I would rub sea slat on the kitties back (spine) and rub it in real good. Herbs scattered around where kitties lay also is helpful.

12 years ago

Good article. However you forgot to mention that to be able to get rid of fleas out of the home, it’s a must to keep your pet confined in one space, preferably outside. . Wash all pet bedding, any other washable furniture such as covers, rugs, pillows and your bedding. Vacuum all carpeting thoroughly and then make sure you throw the vacuum bag away immediately.

12 years ago

Hi Beth, I have two cats and had a bad flea infestation several years ago living in an apartment that was 100% carpeted. This is what I did to get rid of the fleas
*Diatomaceous Earth sprinkled in doorways, windows or anywhere else fleas could come in from outside
*Vacuumed daily, and had a flea collar in the vacuum bag to kill all fleas & eggs in the vacuum
*Vacuumed the bed and couches
*Washed the cats about one a month with a natural soap
*Used a flea comb regularly dunking it in a glass of soapy water to drown the fleas

Good Luck!

12 years ago

I second Neem oil!

I have a Shiba Inu who chews himself raw with a single flea bite. I tried frontline and then the comfortus pills and it didn’t help long term. I was almost ready to give up an just keep the poor guy on steroids.

A coworker convinced me to try Neem oil- it has to be fresh (which means stinky) and I use it with Dr Bonners to wash and mixed with a little water and glycerin for a homemade flea spray.

So far it seems to be working! His bald spots are growing back and he finally stopped scratching all the time.

13 years ago

We had a flea infestation one year and could not figure out why our yard was so over run with them. We found out that the squirrels were carrying them from yard to yard.

13 years ago

I have 9 Poms. What a pain to try and get them brushed let alone a flea comb. One of them is so badly infested she has lost so much weight and wont eat. The only thing she will eat is a slice of turkey. I just tried Borax on the carpet where their kennels are. It was a flea circus in the cannister (bagless vacuum). Trying to get all the dogs washed. Even after I washed some of them with a natural flea shampoo the fleas are still there. I have NEVER had this problem before. I live in the country, for the past 7 years, and this is just gross. I am now itching because I think they are crawling on me. Any suggestions HELP……

13 years ago

Advantage seems to work for my boys – but fleas are pretty bad right now, I think because of all the rain we have been having. I’m going to treat them again… yuck. I have to bribe them with butter so they don’t lick it all off each other.

13 years ago

Paws up for FleaBusters! We had a horrible time with fleas in the carpets a few years ago and they worked wonders. The treatment took care of the fleas that were jumping out of the carpet onto us right away (ewww); the eggs shriveled up and didn’t hatch. I remember their telling me the powder was essentially boric acid (not borax); they sprinkled it on the carpet, rubbed it in with a long-handled carpet rake, let it sit and then vacuumed. We had a toddler at the time and a nontoxic solution was important. If you can treat the environment for fleas, you may not have to treat the cats.

One more gross-out: the technician told me fleas hitch a ride on *us* via pant legs, socks, etc (in addition to shoes) so it’s really hard not to track them inside.

13 years ago

Thanks for the posts and the pointers, Tracey. I’m about to check out the links.

Luckily (in this instance, I mean) I have no cats at present, since their independent streak would make this worse. My independent dog is having a good time without fleas at a relative’s place (she’s not the carrier in this case, even).

I still have the dichotomaceous earth on the carpet — I’m not sure whether it has a deleterious effect on me, but it does seem to be reducing the flea population in here, although I found 2 critters on my bed last night. Strangely, they weren’t able to jump very high (?!) when I tried to kill them (and succeeded). Maybe they were already on the way out? I’ve also been spraying repellent on myself at night. Yuck. Prayer works too, I think!

I realize that the life-cycle thing means that I can’t just vaccuum immediately and get rid of them all. I’m just hoping that by midweek I can do so; I really am uncertain about its effects on humans (i.e. … me)

I know I sound like a cruel flea hater. I am!

I agree with you about deterrence vs. extermination. I’ll leave DE on the perimeters, as you described. And I’ll read the links. I’ll report back soon. In the meantime, I’m very grateful for your advice.

13 years ago – Try this a friend uses it and it works for her dogs – it’s meant for cats too and they love the treats

13 years ago


13 years ago


As an aromatherapist, I must say not to trust ANY essential oil remedy until you have triple checked its safety.

Essential Oils Potentially Toxic to Cats
(This list is not all-inclusive)

* Peppermint
* Lemon Oil
* Lavender Oil
* Melaleuca Oil
* Tea Tree Oil
* Cinnamon Bark Oil
* Wintergreen Oil
* Thyme Oil
* Birch Oil

Check out this basic article:
And more than you ever wanted to know:

There’s a difference between repelling fleas and killing them. It’s a lot easier and less toxic to repel them. When my mangy outdoor cat brought in fleas, I:
1. Use diatomaceous earth and salt on floors, especially the perimeters
2. Limited my cat to certain areas (no furniture, no rug resting)
3. brushed /combed fleas out
4. did too much laundry
5, vacuumed daily and froze the bags until full, then threw them away.
6. prayed and covered myself in lotion with peppermint every night so the fleas couldn’t eat me!

This article makes sense mostly, except don’t spritz peppermint anywhere in your cat’s home!

13 years ago

Beth, thanks for the tips! I ended up by throwing out the dog’s bed (she’s on vacation at a relative’s). Didn’t want to take chances with it.

I went ahead and used the DE that very night and even think I may have overdone it (I’ve found a thin layer of it all over everything (appliances, table, etc.). I’m not sure how long I’m supposed to leave it — I’m thinking of vaccuming after the weekend unless I keep getting bites — last night I was bitten several times. Fleas don’t give up easily!

This is so frustrating!

Beth D.
13 years ago

I have no experience with DE, but when we washed everything, we washed anything that the cats had ever slept on including all bedding and all pillows, rugs, comforters, quilts, etc. If the animal has not laid or slept on the clothing, it is probably ok. The washing is to get rid of the eggs left behind. When in doubt, Wash! (in hottest water possible, totally dry afterward)

13 years ago

Flea problem here. Bought some Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth at the feed store, have sifter, broom, & vacuum cleaner ready.

I have a 1-bedroom apt. and my dog’s staying at a relative’s house for a couple of weeks, so no problems there. I’ll put DE on her bed and have it laundered later on before she comes home.

1) My bed is a futon. How would I deal with this? ?(I mean would I sprinkle DE on it?) The futon has a sheath-like cover on it (that zips). Do I need to remove it to put DE on it, too?

2) Is it necessary for me to wash ALL my clothing (everything in the closet, stuff in drawers…, dry-clean-only stuff).

3) Once I’ve sprinkled DE on the futon, may I sleep on it this very night? (With laundered sheets on top of the futon)

4) Can I just sprinkle (or vacuum) my quilt, or does it need laundering (it’s big, and it’s a haul to the nearest washing machine that will fit it)

5) What about pillows??

Help please!!! These bugs are driving me nuts! Thanks for reading, and any advice is much appreciated.

13 years ago

I “fourth” the flea comb in combination with frequent vacuuming. It’s labor intensive and your cats have to be on board with the combing but it really can make a big difference.

I live in a community. I have 2 indoor/outdoor cats who do not have flea problems currently. However, my neighbor 2 doors away has an indoor only cat and they had a horrible infestation last spring. They can come in on a human and just get busy breeding before you even know what’s happening.

Good luck to you and Soots and Arya.

13 years ago

we dont have much of a flea problem and we dont even use flea collars or frontline.

13 years ago

I third the flea comb! :-)

Beth D.
13 years ago

I also would never, NEVER use Borax on the floors around cats. My vet told me it will kill the fleas, but it will kill the cats first!

Once, I had a horrible infestation of fleas. I tried brushing and vacuuming with no abatement in the number of fleas. The only thing that stopped the cycle was to give the cats a Capstar pill (kills all live fleas within 30 minutes), and then take every bit of cloth in the house the cats had ever slept on to the laundromat where I did use Borax and HOT water. Then, on the same day, I vacuumed the entire house wall to wall, along every ledge, chair, sofa, bed, etc. It was horrible!

Then, I started giving them the Program pills once a month for the warm months and did not let them outside at all. Finally, by winter, the fleas were down to an unnoticeable level. I still brush them frequently, but have not found eggs in 2 years.

The main problem is that eggs can survive for over a year before hatching, so if you don’t fastidiously vacuum everywhere, it won’t matter what you do to your cats. Good Luck!

Micheline Arcier
13 years ago

I agree you do have to be very careful with aromatherapy oils and pets, but there are some very good essential oils available to soothe your own skin if you are bitten, and possibly destress!

13 years ago

Please do not use borax in a home with cats. It is extremely toxic to them. I used to use it in my laundry and my cat got sick (spent the day salivating excessively, luckily nothing worse) just from being nearby when I was pouring it into the washing machine. Also, be careful with essential oils around cats. You should not put it directly on them because they lick it off when grooming. Cats’ livers are much less effective at processing toxins than most mammals’, so be sure to thoroughly check for safety before trying possible solutions.

13 years ago

I used to have an indoor/outdoor cat and we fed him the brewer’s yeast tablets (which he loved and thought were a treat). It didn’t eliminate the fleas but he didn’t seem to scratch as much. Maybe the Borax, feed the cats brewers yeast, give everyone a bath will do the trick. Sounds like to me though that maybe the fleas were already there. I’m assuming it wasn’t brand new carpet when you moved in. Good luck!

13 years ago

My mother-in-law has herds of cats and uses neem oil to apparently good effect (I think you can either buy it as a shampoo or use the essential oil).

13 years ago

Although the dog never comes onto your property… the fleas might be migrating. I had a dog that was allergic to fleas and we put her on frontline off and to combat the fleas. One time, a new dog moved in next door. The dog was never on our property (we had a fenced property) but within a few days, my dog was chewing her skin off.

I don’t have any tips for you because I always used Frontline when I needed it and haven’t needed any for the last 4 years. I will have to keep some of these tips in mind should I ever have need to de-flea again

13 years ago

We lived in Florida for years and never had a problem, but when we moved to Texas both of our very large dogs somehow got fleas. It was extremely bad in our small one bedroom apartment. I read everywhere for natural rememdies since we had a small baby as well. I tried the salt and it didn’t work that well, but once we used the borax and continued to remove our vacuum bag it did the trick. We actually took a weekend away at a cabin (brought the dogs and bathed them when we got there), sprinkled the borax on and left it. Once we got back we vacuumed it all up and threw away the bag. We still had a little problem for about another week, but when I contacted a earth friendly bug company they actually told me what I was doing would would work, but I had to wait for the living fleas to cycle through – about three weeks. Apparently the borax dries up the eggs only. It WORKED and I would definitely do the same thing again!!!!! Oh, and one other thing – borax comes in a cardboard box. :)

13 years ago

We’ve used the chemicals in the past and honestly our dogs HATE it. Not only does it smell bad but it leaves a horrid residue on their scruff, so I switched to a shampoo. We used Buddy Wash cedarwood and neem shampoo/conditioner and spray and that worked lovely! Until they discontinued it :( Grrrr
Try cedarwood chips around the house to stop them coming in, all insects hate cedarwood.

We now use Dr Bronners soap either eucalyptus or citrus and that seems to do the trick for us. No fleas in a long time, knock on wood!

13 years ago

i read that fennel repels fleas. I’ve ground up fennel into a powder and sprinkled it around. I don’t know how much it helps, though. I ‘ve also read somewhere that a little vinegar in their water dish will help them repel the fleas.

13 years ago

I think you will be very happy with the results of the DE. I use that on my carpet. I have in inside/outside dog and in the years I have been using the product, I have never had a flea problem in the house. I live on an acre of basically a hay field, and still, no fleas in the house. Even after you vacuum, there will be DE in the carpet, and it will continue working, drying out the fleas, flea eggs, and flea larvae. When I had cats, they were also inside/outside animals and the DE worked great then too.

13 years ago

I also used the dish under the lamp trick in each room of my home. I used a fairly flat dish, filled with SOAPY water (the soap coats the fleas when they jump in and sink to the bottom), and shut out all light in the rooms except for that lamp. Over several weeks of leaving the lamps on at night we started finding less and less fleas in our home. Does it kill every flea forever? No. But it does do a pretty good job at keeping the population down.

Eco-Vegan Gal
13 years ago

I use J&J’s Natural Flea & Tick Potion on my dog in Los Angeles. It’s pretty strong but I really like the smell and it does the job. Also bathe my dog in lavender shampoo about once a month or so, and feed her Pet Guard garlic tablets (which are supposed to keep off fleas too).

13 years ago

I wonder if human lice treatment shampoos would work? Just a thought, but I know you can get some “natural” lice shampoos.

Worth giving them a try!

13 years ago

We use Dirty and Hairy, a flea shampoo made primarily with citronella, lime, and green tea. We got it at one of the Pet stores (co, mart, can’t remember which) for a pretty decent price, and it did a great job of getting rid of the fleas.

Condo Blues
13 years ago

Have you asked your vet what to do since you think the real problem is the carpet? How about contacting a cat rescue organization? I’m sure that they have to deal with flea infestations often and might have tips on how to treat your house for fleas other than steam cleaning. Other than that, I got nothing because I have a dog.

One thing about giving a dog garlic to repeal fleas, it will work but if you do it over a long period of time the garlic builds up in the dog’s system and is toxic to them.

13 years ago

I have cats and dogs. My cats are indoor cats. I’ve found that vacuuming everyday and washing all the pet bedding weekly does wonders. My cats sleep all over everything too. Get out the upholstery brush and vacuum away. =) Make sure that you empty the vacuum canister afterwards too, so the eggs don’t hatch in the vacuum cleaner. I don’t have fleas but, if I see anybody start to scratch, I grab the flea comb and comb all of them just to be sure it isn’t fleas. When I have found fleas, I comb everyone, give the dogs a bath, vacuum thoroughly, and wash all bedding and continue to do a comb check every few days.

13 years ago

I want to second the flea comb idea. (Much like the lice comb my mother used on my as a child). I have a small dog and am not a fan of pesticides in general and less so when they are in direct contact to my pets skin. The flea comb works amazingly well. I spend 10 or so minutes brushing my dog every night until I go a few days without fleas. Lucky for me I know exactly where her fleas come from so I can comb her before they become a big problem.

I’ve had friends use rock salt to great success. They would leave it around the edges for rooms and vacuum frequently ensuring that the bag is emptied and stored away from the house. The salt should dry the fleas out on contact. It does take months though to get rid of all the crawlers.

13 years ago

I have all sorts of animals, but no fleas – so I can’t offer any solutions.

But I wonder about your reasoning: “our cats never go outside, so the environmental impact of the stuff pretty much stays in our house”. I think the impact goes beyond your house, just not directly. Washed down the drain etc. Also the stuff is made somewhere so it must have an impact there and on the people who make it.

Keep up the non-plastic work!

shona~LALA dex press
13 years ago

I am most interested in the comments as well as I have a dog with Epilepsy + in addition to just the plain nasty chemical issues with a Frontline-type product, it’s ill-advised on an epi pet. The Nature’s Guardian product in the first comment looks promising as I don’t want to sprinkle DE or Borax on the hardwood floors. I tried neem + eucalyptus oils, ginger + garlic in the food, none of these have worked. I’ve read that dogs cannot digest the quantities of garlic required for detoxing which would cause the desired repellent effect.

13 years ago

We used Flea Busters when we had a very bad flea problem last year. They were eating our little dog alive. It was awful. They did use borax and some type silicone I believe. It made the borax adhere to the carpet so it wouldn’t become airborne and wouldn’t be vacuumed away. It worked when nothing else did. I don’t know if you are as desperate as I was, but I felt it was a good option. I was also worried about the DE because it can cause lung damage, and we have children.
Another idea is to get rid of the carpet. That way they have no place to burrow. We only have a small amount of carpet in our home but it was enough to cause a big problem.
My cat would always lick right after we put the frontline on. So frustrating. He could turn his head like an owl and get that spot.
Good luck! Fleas are pure evil!

13 years ago

The trick with the bathes is to drown the fleas. I’ve done a lot of kitten rescue work and I don’t like to use chemicals on the little ones. So I bathe them with some kind of sudsy soap and then leave it on them for 10 minutes. If the soap is sudsy enough, the fleas drown. When you rinse, dead ones are rinsed off. Flea comb the head around the eyes to get the remaining stragglers. Alternatively you can hold cats in the water up to their necks for 10 minutes to drown the fleas but cats/kittens really really don’t like this.

13 years ago

Shoot- Te Willans took mine! LOL I found that removing the carpet and replacing the floor with tile worked best for me. That being said, I still use frontline on both kitty and puppy dawg, at the reccomondation of their vet. If I don’t puppy chews himself raw and kitty scratches until skin appears. And yes my cat is an indoor cat.

Beth Terry (the other one)
13 years ago

Beth – there are some wonderful aromatherapy solutions to your problem. Valerie Ann Worwood has a book you will want in your personal library. “The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy.” It’s a Godsend. I used it with all my kids and my pets. It’s full of healthy recipes for making everything from your own pet shampoo to your own face products, household cleaners, and wellness tonics.

For fleas — You can add a few drops of aromatherapy oil into the bath and into the carpet shampoo. Lemongrass, Citronella, or Cedarwood oil are good. Remember that cats and dogs have very sensitive noses, so one drop may be enough for the cat bath. A little more for the carpet shampoo. Follow all the great advice you got on shampooing the carpet as well. Be careful with Borax, as it can harm your cat if you don’t get it all up. And it’s a pain when it gets wet. You think you got it all and find it’s still there.

Borax works on all manner of insects. It works because it suffocates them. Cats and Dogs are always cleaning themselves, so they could have digestive tract and lung problems if they walk across it and then ingest it. That’s why I’ve avoided it.

You may want to get the carpet professionally cleaned so you have a good starting point.

Where did the fleas come from? It’s possible you brought one in. You could have had one pregnant flea jump on you as you were out jogging, and boom – colonies have taken up residence under the carpet. What joy!

Or – get rid of the carpet all together and put in tile.

Good luck!

13 years ago

The fleas are definitely hatching in your carpet. This cycle can go on indefinitely if you don’t treat the carpet as suggested above.

Te Willans
13 years ago

My firend has a flea problem with her small dogs and in additiion to the toxics she uses a simple flea catching technique which has yeilded good results.
Every night she places a container of water in the room where the dogs sleep and shines a light directly at the surface about a foot away from it. The fleas are attrac ted by the light and drown in the water. To begin she caught lots of fleas, now not so many.

13 years ago

I used to live in Florida….fleas were always a problem, Always. We went through the same battles you did, trying everything and hoping to avoid the pesticides in popular treatments. Someone told us to sprinkle Borax (available at most grocery stores in the detergent aisle) on the carpet. We sprinkled heavily and used a broom to work it into the carpet. Left it overnight and vacuumed it up. No more fleas. You need to bath animals and treat the house at the same time. We did it again two weeks later, and two weeks later to try to break the hatching cycle of the flea. Then maybe once a month or as needed. Make sure you throw out your vacuum bag after every treatment/vacuum cycle to get rid of the surviving fleas/eggs in the bag. This was seriously the best advice we ever received on the subject. We now live in the mid-west, and when we told our local vet about this treatment he laughed at us….but what does he know, he never lived in Florida.