Warm weather in many parts of the world signals the start of flea season. Fleas can infest most warm-blooded animals and cats frequently pick them up as they roam around the neighborhood. A wide variety of flea shampoos are available, although most commercial shampoos use harsh chemicals to kills fleas. Natural flea baths can be just as effective and safer for your cat.
Signs of Infestation
Fleas are very small and difficult to see with the naked eye. They climb onto the host and feed on their blood, biting through the skin and injecting small amounts of saliva into the host to keep the blood flowing. This causes severe itching and redness, as well as small red bumps on the skin. Small, dark flecks of feces, often referred to as flea dirt, will be visible on the skin and coat.
Natural vs. Chemical
Chemical flea treatments can be very effective but they kill fleas by coating the cat with a strong concentration of pesticide. Many cats, including young kittens or sick animals, have weak immune systems and cannot tolerate chemical treatments. Natural treatments are made of ingredients such as natural oils and extracts that kill and repel fleas without chemicals and can be used on cats of all ages.
Making a Flea Bath
Natural flea baths are most often a mixture of essential oils that kill fleas on contact. Lemons and eucalyptus oil help repel fleas and condition the skin while Dawn dish soap kills fleas and their eggs. To make a natural flea bath, take a 4-qt sauce pan and add 6 cups of water and 3 halved lemons to the pot. Place it on the stove and bring the water to a boil, adding 6 drops of eucalyptus oil and allow the mixture to boil for 10 minutes. Turn the pot off and leave the mixture to cool completely before removing the lemons. Stir in ½ cup of Dawn dish soap and pour the mixture in an empty shampoo bottle.
Directions for Use
Comb the cat with a fine-toothed flea comb to remove as many fleas as possible before bathing. Place the cat in the sink and wet the coat thoroughly with warm water, adding a handful of the shampoo to the coat. Massage the shampoo through the coat and down to the skin and allow it to remain for five minutes before rinsing. Repeat the bathing process weekly until no signs of fleas remain.
Natural flea treatments may take longer to work than chemical treatments. Chemical flea baths are very concentrated and designed to work in one treatment, making them very harsh on the cat’s skin. Natural flea baths may take two or three treatments to completely rid the cat of fleas but they are much safer and will not dry out the skin as much as commercial flea baths.
Cat image by Suzanne Hollens-Riley from Fotolia.com
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.