7 Best Flea Shampoos for Cats: Our 2019 Guide

Fleas are every pet owner’s worst nightmare.

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When the weather gets warmer, even if your cat is an indoor cat, the risk for fleas skyrockets and there is only so much you can do to protect him. Flea preventives can be expensive to purchase and some methods are better than others. Even if you’re careful, you could still end up with an infestation.

So, what do you do when you realize your cat is covered in fleas?

Giving him a flea bath is the quickest way to kill existing fleas and, from there, you can start eliminating them from the rest of the house and take steps for preventing re-infestation. Keep reading to learn more about ridding your cat of fleas and choosing the best flea shampoo for cats.

How to Tell if Your Cat Has Fleas

It’s completely normal for your cat to get the occasional itch that needs scratching, but if he’s constantly scratching or scratching hard enough to draw blood, there could be a problem.

Don’t assume that just because you have an indoor cat that he is safe from fleas. Fleas are opportunistic little creatures that can hitch a ride on other pets and even your own clothes. Once they make their way into the house, they set up shop and start multiplying – quickly. Once you have a handful of fleas, it isn’t long before you’ve got a full infestation.

But how do you know if your cat has fleas?

There are a number of physical and behavioral signs you can look for, including the following:

  • Frantic and intense scratching
  • Biting or chewing the skin and body
  • Excessive grooming, particularly around the tail
  • Loss of hair in patches on the neck, legs, and base of the tail
  • Avoidance of rooms with carpet or upholstered furniture
  • Edginess or restless behaviors
  • Red and inflamed skin, lesions, and scab-like bumps
  • Anemia (pale gums, muscle loss, and lethargy)
  • Pepper-like specks in the fur (flea dirt)
  • Red spots on bedding and upholstery
  • Visible black or reddish-brown insects crawling on cat

Now that you’re certain your cat has fleas, what can you do about it? The best way to kill existing fleas quickly is to give your cat a bath using flea shampoo. Keep reading to learn how.

7 Best Shampoos for Cats with Fleas

5 Tips for Bathing a Cat with Fleas

Cats are notorious for their dislike of water but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. In addition to killing existing fleas, a good flea shampoo will also prevent flea eggs from developing and will help nourish your cat’s dry and irritated skin.

So, how do you give your cat a flea bath? Here’s how:

  1. Place a washcloth or small towel on the bottom of a large sink (or bathtub if you have no other options) to give your cat some traction.
  2. Fill the sink with a few inches of lukewarm water – don’t make it too hot.
  3. Place your cat in the sink and wet down his coat all the way to skin from the base of his neck to the tail – you can use a cup to pour water over him or use a handheld sprayer.
  4. Apply a small amount of flea shampoo along your cat’s back then work it into a lather.
  5. Work the shampoo all the way into your cat’s coat down to the skin, paying special attention to the base of his neck and tail while keeping his head dry.
  6. Let the shampoo sit for a few minutes once it is nicely lathered.
  7. Thoroughly rinse all traces of shampoo out of your cat’s coat, making sure not to leave any residue that might cause his skin to dry out.
  8. Use a towel to remove as much moisture from your cat’s coat as you can then let him air dry or, if he’ll let you, dry him using the cool setting on your hairdryer.

Now that your cat is clean and flea-free, what do you do? Keep reading to learn some simple tips for keeping your cat and your home flea-free after bathing him with flea shampoo for cats.

How to Prevent Re-Infestation After a Flea Bath

Once you’ve given your cat a flea bath, you need to keep him contained in an area that is free from fleas while you work on the rest of your house. If you simply let him wander back into the living room, he’ll pick up new fleas and the infestation will start all over.

If you really want to protect your cat against re-infestation, talk to your vet about the options for flea preventives. Flea baths work well to kill fleas, but most will not protect your cat against future infestations. A monthly topical application or a flea collar are the best options for long-term protection against fleas and other biting insects.

What else do you need to do around the house to prevent re-infestation? Here are some ideas:

  • Thoroughly vacuum your carpets and upholstered furniture to pick up fleas, eggs, and larvae (make sure you seal and throw away the bag immediately).
  • Sweep and mop all of your hard floors and baseboards – you can add some lemon essential oil to the water to help repel fleas.
  • Wash all of your dog’s toys and bedding to get rid of fleas, eggs, and larvae – you may even want to wash it twice just to be safe.
  • Keep vacuuming, sweeping, and mopping your floors and furniture every day for a week then do an inspection to see if you still see fleas.
  • If all else fails, hire a professional exterminator to fog the house – keep in mind that you’ll need to keep your cat somewhere safe and you might not be able to return immediately.

As you can see, ridding your home of fleas can be a long, drawn-out process. It could take multiple baths to kill all of the fleas hiding in your cat’s fur and it will take extra measures to rid the rest of your home of these tiny pests.

If you want to stand the best chance of getting rid of a flea infestation before it gets worse, you should buy the best flea shampoo for cats. Keep reading to see our top pick and 6 other excellent options:

Best Flea Shampoo for Cats Overall

Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor

When it comes to flea shampoo for cats, it is hard to do better than Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor. This flea shampoo features powerful active ingredients such as pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide which kill adult fleas as well as flea eggs, ticks, and lice on contact. Not only does this shampoo kills fleas immediately, but it provides a full 28 days of protection, killing flea eggs so they don’t develop into adult fleas.

In addition to ridding your cat of fleas and other biting insects, Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor also soothes and moisturizes your cat’s dry and irritated skin. Soothing ingredients like oatmeal, coconut extract, and aloe relieve inflammation and itching while nourishing your cat’s skin and restoring the natural luster of his coat. It also cleans away dirt and debris while deodorizing with a fresh, clean scent. This formula is safe for kittens and cats over 12 weeks of age.

  • Pros: Kills fleas and other insects on contact, provides 28 days of protection against flea eggs, soothes dry and irritated skin, powerful active ingredients, soothing natural ingredients, cleans away dirt and debris, deodorizes with a fresh scent
  • Cons: Not recommended for kittens under 12 weeks, may require multiple applications for maximum efficacy, contains some chemical ingredients

6 Other Really Good Flea Shampoos for Cats

If the X isn’t your top choice, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of other options to choose from. Here are six other great choices in flea shampoo for cats:

Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Flea & Tick Shampoo

If you’re looking for a powerful and fast-acting formula, this Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Flea & Tick Shampoo is a great option. This flea shampoo contains 15% pyrethrins for fast-acting flea control, killing both fleas and ticks on contact. It also contains moisturizing ingredients like lanolin and aloe to soothe your cat’s dry and irritated skin. Plus, it leaves him smelling fresh and clean.

  • Pros: Contains 15% pyrethrins, kills fleas and ticks on contact, contains soothing ingredients
  • Cons: Not for kittens under 12 weeks, shouldn’t be reapplied within 7 days, chemical ingredients

Sergeant’s Gold Flea & Tick Cat Shampoo

Surprisingly affordable, Sergeant’s Gold Flea & Tick Cat Shampoo is made with powerful pyrethrins to kill fleas and ticks on contact. This formula also contains insect growth regulator which prevents adults from reproducing and eggs from hatching for up to 30 days. As an added bonus, this shampoo has a spring freesia fragrance that leaves your cat smelling wonderful.

  • Pros: Kills fleas and ticks on contact, insect growth regulator prevents eggs from developing, provides 30 days of protection, spring freesia fragrance
  • Cons: Not for kittens under 12 weeks, contains chemical ingredients, some cats may not like fragrance

Zodiac Flea & Tick Shampoo for Dogs and Cats

If your cat is sensitive to pesticides but you still want a powerful and effective formula, this Zodiac Flea & Tick Shampoo for Dogs and Cats may be a good option. It still contains fast-acting pyrethrins, but in a lower concentration than other products which makes it good for smaller and more sensitive cats. This flea shampoo kills fleas on contact and helps cleanse and moisturize your cat’s skin and coat.

  • Pros: Contains fast-acting pyrethrins to kill on contact, low concentration of insecticides, cleanses and moisturizes skin, all-in-one formula
  • Cons: Doesn’t contain insect growth regulator, not for kittens under 12 weeks

Ovitrol Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo for Dogs and Cats

Made with Precor Insect Growth Regulator, Ovitrol Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo for Dogs and Cats kills adult fleas on contact but also provides 28 days of protection against eggs developing into biting adults. This flea shampoo features a rich, creamy formula with soothing ingredients like oatmeal, coconut extract, lanolin, and aloe to clean and leave your cat’s skin feeling soft and moisturized. It comes in a concentrated formula but can be diluted for small cats or kittens.

  • Pros: Kills fleas and ticks on contact, Precor Insect Growth Regulator prevents eggs from developing, contains moisturizing natural ingredients, cleanses dirt and debris, pleasant scent
  • Cons: Not for kittens under 12 weeks, concentrated formula may be too strong for some cats, contains chemical ingredients

Natural Chemistry De Flea Shampoo for Cats

If you don’t like the idea of using chemical ingredients on your cat, this Natural Chemistry De Flea Shampoo for Cats might be a good option. Pesticide-free, this shampoo features a patented combination of ingredients that damage the protective exoskeleton of fleas and ticks to kill them quickly and effectively. For the best results, rub the shampoo into your cat’s coat and let it soak for 5 minutes before rinsing it away.

  • Pros: Completely pesticide-free, kills fleas and ticks on contact, effective against all life stages
  • Cons: Needs to soak for 5 minutes, not for kittens under 12 weeks

Sentry PurrScriptions Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo for Cats

This Sentry PurrScriptions Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo for Cats is made with powerful active ingredients like pyrethrins that kill fleas and ticks on contact as well as Nylar which kills eggs for up to 4 weeks. This shampoo cleans and deodorizes your cat’s coat as well, leaving him smelling fresh and clean. It also requires less “lather and soak” time than other options on the market.

  • Pros: Powerful active ingredients, kills fleas and ticks on contact, 30 days of protection against flea eggs, cleans and deodorizes, shorter “lather and soak” time
  • Cons: Not for kittens under 12 weeks, coat may need brushing after use to prevent tangles, may require multiple applications to kill all fleas

While a tiny little flea is certainly no reason to panic, fleas are not a minor problem that can just be ignored. It takes very little time for a flea or two to multiply and take over your home, so act quickly at the first sign of a problem. Invest in a high-quality flea shampoo for cats like one of the options reviewed above for your cat’s sake as well as yours!

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