It’s been a hell of a week.
I thought we had eradicated a flea issue we had back in the spring, as we had not seen a single little jumping jerk since our last battle.
But this time, they brought friends. Lots of them. It was pretty awful.
This is Olivia.
She’s an indoor-only cat, and apparently we brought fleas to her because we are excellent cat owners. *sigh*
PLEASE NOTE: having fleas does not mean you are gross and dirty. And do not fear!
The fleas are pretty freaking terrible this year, so you are not alone. You can do this!
I have never really dealt with fleas on my own before. I’ve had other adults around the last two times, and they were flea experts and knew precisely what to do.
I’m a little inexperienced with this sort of Battle Royale. I had no idea what to do when the little black dots started crawling and jumping all over my children. And the furniture. And everything.
I couldn’t ignore it, as my “ostrich impression” has been my usual go-to. I’m done hiding and running. I needed to go to war.
So I took a day off of work and learned a lot about trying to fight fleas on your own. I’m still cleaning up our war-zone of a house, but I wanted to share the things I learned during World War Flea.
Here’s what I found:
- Listen to other people in your area who have battled the fleas. It will save you a lot of time and energy if you listen to those who have gone before.
I would have saved a LOT OF TIME and money if I just listened to the moms in my moms’ group on FB, or my neighbors….
- Commercially-purchased flea bombs (like the ones you buy on Amazon or at the grocery store) do not work for this round of fleas. Apparently, they are the Mad Max version…the fleas that remained after the smoke of all of the other Flea-pocalypse chemicals dissipated.
I went through the whole “tape off all the counters and cabinets and find somewhere for the cat to go and make sure you tape the windows closed” thing. And the fleas were just mad about things when the house aired back out, the cat was mad about being locked in the shed, so basically that was for naught.
- You have to start your flea fight with the animal and the people. You have to make the “hosts” inhospitable before you start treating, or the bites get worse. The fleas get mad and take it out on you.
Making you less tasty to fleas means bathing the cat and treating them (more about both of those in a minute) and treating the humans. I mixed coconut oil with this citronella essential oil for the humans and the fleas HATE US.
- You have to treat the cat(s). And don’t be cheap on the treatments. The inexpensive treatments from the grocery store did nothing but make the cat mad at us. And waste money. We went the pill route.
- Do yourself a favor and do not try to give a cat a pill on your own. THIS IS A TWO PERSON JOB. Unless your cat is not a wild and crazy animal like ours, who tried “Death From A Thousand Cuts and Terrible Noises” while we were attempting to stick a pill in her mouth.
Cats are not dogs. You cannot just stick the pill in food. One person will have to finesse it into their mouths with a combination of ninja skills and hostage negotiation tactics, while the other holds the cat while it’s wrapped in a towel.
- You have to bathe the cat.
– If you have multiple bathrooms, pick the one that doesn’t have a shower curtain. Remove the shower curtain if that’s your only choice.
– Prepare your tools (a cup for rinsing, the soap you are using, the towel) prior to trying to wrangle the cat.
– Wear clothes you don’t care about.
– We tried two different expensive flea shampoos, and were really not impressed with the ZERO fleas that went down the drain (along with the money we spent on the shampoo). The Blue Dawn dish detergent is the best. I don’t know why.
– Make sure you don’t get the cat’s head wet, and you let the soap sit at least 3-5 minutes. Get every inch of the cat soaped up, down to the skin. We missed a 2″ patch of skin on our cat’s belly the first bath (it took 3 baths over the period of a week to get her totally flea-free) and that 2″ part was enough for a squadron of fleas to survive.
- If you’re going the topical treatment route, you cannot bathe the cat for 3 days prior and 3 days following the treatment. The oils from the cat’s skin need to mingle with the treatment or something. You don’t want to spend all that money on treatments to just wash it right back off.
- Vacuum. All the time, forever. Every inch of your house. Cut up a flea collar and stick it in the vacuum canister before you vacuum. Vacuum all the furniture. Vacuum the baseboards. Vacuum the corners of the room. EVERYWHERE. Those little jerks lay their eggs EVERYWHERE.
Empty the vacuum canister immediately, and straight into the trash OUTSIDE. Bonus points if you put it in a plastic bag and seal it first.
Do not give those little suckers even a minute of relief. Continue your daily vacuuming barrage for at least 10 days.
- Treat your lawn. Even if your kitteh is an indoor-only cat, you can bring in fleas from anywhere on your clothes. Make your yard a graveyard of fleas with a lawn treatment like this one.
- Treat your furniture and rugs. There are a couple of different things that people suggest, but we tried diatomaceous earth because of our hardwood floors. You MUST GET the food grade kind. It’s the only thing that’s safe for you and your pets.
I scattered it over everything and let it sit for a day while the cat was blocked in the basement, and vacuumed it up during one of my daily trips around the house. It can irritate kitty noses and eyes, so be careful.
BONUS TIP: pie plates with about a half inch of water and a bit of dishwashing soap placed under a light or heat source will catch a lot of adult fleas. Find the places with the most “jumpers” and put your water traps there. It’s satisfying to watch them drown.
Don’t get overwhelmed. Yes, it seems like you are Jon Snow and the White Walker Fleas are going to eat you alive. Yes, sometimes it feels like they’re all over you, even when they totally are not.
But there’s a reason we are at the top of the food chain. Don’t lose faith. You will prevail!
And please feel free to hit me up on any of my social media if you have any questions! <3