The Best Flea and Tick Treatments for Your Cat in 2018

The best flea and tick treatments for your cat in the summer of 2018

Today is the first day of summer!

It’s the beginning of beach vacations, pool side drinks, and summer sun!

But it’s also the beginning of bugs, bugs, and more bugs…

You can’t step outside into this NC heat and humidity without stepping right into a cloud of gnats and mosquitoes that are determined to make you their next meal.

And your pets are on the menu as well for fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.

I cannot advise you on how to prevent the bugs from eating you this summer because I’m still trying to find the magic potion for this problem myself, but I CAN give my best professional opinion on which flea and tick medications are paramount for your cat this summer!

** Disclaimer: I am a non-registered veterinary technician that works primarily with feline patients. These opinions are based on my own personal and professional opinion. I am not a veterinarian and therefore advise you to make all health decisions about treatments for your cats and other animals with your veterinarian. I also cannot guarantee that you will see the same results with these products as I have. There may be affiliate links in this post for certain products and I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. All products that I recommend have my stamp of approval. If you happen to purchase one of my recommended items, not only will it make life easier for you but it will help me make a couple extra bucks in this Hard Duck Life. **


Are fleas and ticks really that big a problem?

Should I be concerned about fleas and ticks - The Best Flea and Tick Treatments for Your Cat in 2018

Short answer: “Absolutely YES!”

Fleas and ticks are considered external parasites. That’s right: PARASITES. Meaning they live off of other living things, specifically their blood. Quite the pesky mooches if you ask me.

They live in almost any environment as long as there is a host to feed on. Meaning they are most certainly in your own back yard.

And infestations can happen quickly! Where there is ONE flea there are MANY! Because ONE flea can lay 1,000 eggs in its lifetime (in just a short 3-4 months).

There are also over 90 species of ticks found in the US, particularly in the warm and humid climates like here in NC!

OK! So fleas and ticks are prevalent, but why does my cat need flea and tick prevention?

Just say no to fleas and ticks this summer  - The Best Flea and Tick Treatments for Your Cat in 2018

Fleas and ticks are not just annoying, they actually pose a threat to your cat’s health.

Fleas pose a health risk for your feline friend with these complications:

– Your cat can get tapeworms if it ingests fleas while grooming.

– Fleas can transmit a bacteria to you called Bartonella that causes Cat Scratch Fever.

– Your cat could become anemic from the blood loss caused by fleas (**Fun Fact: One adult flea can suck 14 microliters of blood each day. Meaning 72 adult fleas can ingest 1 mL of blood per day – Whoa Nelly!)

– Fleas are one of the top three allergens for cats causing a skin irritation called miliary dermatits. This is extremely itchy and uncomfortable for the cat and needs to be treated by a veterinarian.

Ticks also pose a health risk for your feline friend with these complications:

– A tick could transmit a blood parasite to your cat that causes Bobcat Fever, which could be fatal.

– Just like with fleas, your cat could become anemic from the blood loss. (**Fun Fact: One adult female tick can ingest 200-600 times her body weight in blood – Yowza!)

– Ticks can also carry bacterium that causes Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. These diseases are not well studied in cats but certainly are transmittable to you through a tick bite if your cat brings one into your home.

But does my indoor cat REALLLY need flea and tick prevention?

Does my indoor cat need flea and tick treatment - The Best Flea and Tick Treatments for Your Cat in 2018

This is a VERY common questions that I meet in my profession on a daily basis.

You may think that your precious pampered indoor kitty would be protected from such atrocities as fleas inside the comfort of your four walls, but you would be wrong!

Does your cat go out on a screened in porch? Fleas can jump almost 100 X their body length in one leap! And they are tiny. So tiny they can possibly fit through the door screen in pursuit of your cat.

Even if your cat never goes outside and has no access to a screened porch they are still at risk because fleas can ride in on your shoes and pants legs and hereafter reside in your home and on your cat.

So in conclusion, it is best to apply flea and tick treatment even to your indoor cat.

OH NO! So what are the best flea and tick products for my cat??

The top 5 flea and tick treatments for your cat summer 2018 - The Best Flea and Tick Treatments for Your Cat in 2018

 

I’m so glad you asked! And you’ve come to the right place because I personally have cats and I work with cats in a veterinary setting every day!

I am NOT familiar with EVERY flea product on the market because the market is flooded with so many different kinds. But I am familiar with those that work the best and are veterinarian trusted. So I would advise sticking with these 5 products:

1. Revolution

 

Revolution 2 300x256 - The Best Flea and Tick Treatments for Your Cat in 2018
Photo snapshot from Zoetis website

 

Revolution is my personal favorite product and what I personally use on my indoor cats. This protects against fleas, heartworms, and some intestinal parasites. It’s a topical application that is applied to the skin of the cat’s neck every 30 days. It does not protect against ticks so this product alone may not be enough for your outdoor kitty who has a higher risk of exposure to ticks. It is a prescription product only available through your veterinarian or with a written prescription from your veterinarian.

Possible side effects may include digestive upset and temporary hair loss at application site. I personally have not seen any side effects from using Revolution with my cats. I have observed some cats have hair loss at the site of application but this can generally be avoided by placing the product in a line down the cat’s neck as opposed to applying the full amount of liquid in one concentrated area.

Active ingredient: Selamectin
Dosing Method: Topical
Frequency: Every 30 days
Protects from: Fleas, flea eggs, heartworms, roundworms, hookworks, ear mites
Age can be used: > 8 weeks old
Company: Zoetis
Prescription or
Over the Counter:
Prescription
Weight categories: 0 – 5 lbs
5 – 15 lbs
15 – 22 lbs
Minimum weight: None
Cost (will vary): $15 – $20 per dose

2. Advantage Multi

Advantage Multi 254x300 - The Best Flea and Tick Treatments for Your Cat in 2018
Photo snapshot from Bayer’s website

Advantage Multi is very similar to Revolution. It too protects against fleas, heartworms, and some intestinal parasites but not ticks. It is also only available through prescription from your veterinarian because it contains heartworm prevention. Possible side effects are also the same as Revolution. This is a highly effective and highly recommended product. I only choose Revolution over Advantage Multi for my cats because Advantage Multi seems like a larger volume of liquid during application and Revolution is less greasy.

As a side note, this product is also approved for use in ferrets greater than 2 lbs.

Active ingredient: Imidacloprid + Moxidectin
Dosing Method: Topical
Frequency: Every 30 days
Protects from: Fleas, heartworms, roundworms, hookworks, ear mites
Age can be used: > 9 weeks old
Company: Bayer
Prescription or
Over the Counter:
Prescription
Weight categories: 2 – 5 lbs
5.1 – 9 lbs
9.1 – 18 lbs
Minimum weight: > 2 lbs
Cost (will vary): $15 – $25 per dose

3. Advantage II

advantage II 292x300 - The Best Flea and Tick Treatments for Your Cat in 2018
Photo snapshot from Bayer’s website

Advantage II is a topical flea treatment that you can buy online or from your local pet store without a prescription from your veterinarian. It is the only over the counter topical treatment that I trust to be safe for your cat and actually protect them against fleas. This is a great choice for your indoor-outdoor cat but be aware that it doesn’t protect against ticks.

Advantage II is different from Advantage Multi, in that it doesn’t contain heartworm prevention. This is why you do not need a prescription to purchase the product. This product is also waterproof so it will not wash off your outdoor cat when it rains. It also kills fleas through contact so the fleas don’t have to bite your cat to die.

Active ingredient: Imidacloprid & Pyriproxyfen
Dosing Method: Topical
Frequency: Every 30 days
Protects from: Fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae
Age can be used: > 8 weeks old
Company: Bayer
Prescription or
Over the Counter:
Over the counter
Weight categories: 2 – 5 lbs
5.1 – 9 lbs
> 9.1 lbs
Minimum weight: 2 lbs
Cost (will vary): $8 – $10 per dose

4. Seresto Collars

Seresto Collar 300x284 - The Best Flea and Tick Treatments for Your Cat in 2018
Photo snapshot from Bayer’s website

Seresto collars are quickly becoming one of my favorite flea and tick prevention products for cats! This is a flea and tick collar that protects your cat for 8 months! It is the ONLY flea and tick collar on the market that actually works!

This is a fantastic option for outdoor cats because it protects against both fleas and ticks. It is also a quick release collar to prevent your cat from becoming entangled, trapped, and choked while outside. And it comes with reflectors to increase your outdoor cat’s visibility in the dark.

It is also great for those people that tend to forget to apply monthly flea and tick treatment to their cat. You place the collar on the cat and it’s good for 8 months!

The ingredients are stored inside the collar, not on the outside, so it’s safe for you and your family to love and pet on the cat while wearing the collar. It is also more cost effective than most topical treatments.

It is available over the counter without a prescription from your veterinarian and generally we don’t see any contact irritation from the collar that we sometimes see with topical applications. However, you may see some hair loss around the neck where the collar is placed simply from rubbing. This is common with all collars, not just Seresto.

I would definitely use Seresto collars for my cats if they would tolerate wearing a collar!

Active ingredient: Flumethrin + Imidacloprid
Dosing Method: Collar
Frequency: Every 8 months
Protects from: Fleas, flea larvae, ticks
Age can be used: > 10 weeks old
Company: Bayer
Prescription or
Over the Counter:
Over the Counter
Weight categories:  All weights
Minimum weight: None
Cost (will vary): $50 – $70 collar
($6 – $9 per month)

5. Bravecto

Bravecto 300x167 - The Best Flea and Tick Treatments for Your Cat in 2018
Photo snapshot from Merck website

I must say, I don’t have a lot of personal experience with Bravecto. It is fairly new to the market compared to the other topical flea treatments I recommend. However, I list it in my top 5 products for the Summer of 2018 because I’ve seen some clients have success with this product and it conveniently only needs to be applied every 3 months.

Bravecto is claimed to start killing fleas 8 hours after application and continues to kill them for a full 12 weeks. It also claims to kill black-legged ticks for the full 12 weeks but only protects against the American dog ticks for 8 weeks max.

This product is only available through your veterinarian or with a prescription. It comes in a chew-able form for dogs but not for cats.

The company notes that “the most common adverse reactions recorded in clinical trials were vomiting, itching, diarrhea, hair loss, decreased appetite, lethargy, and scabs/ulcerated lesions.” They also caution against use in cats with previous neurological abnormalities because  “neurologic abnormalities have been reported in cats receiving Bravecto, even in cats without a history of neurologic abnormalities.”

I have not personally seen any cats have any issues while taking Bravecto but I cautiously recommend it until more personal experience data is collected.

Active ingredient: Fluralaner
Dosing Method: Topical
Frequency: Every 12 weeks
Protects from: Fleas, black-legged tick, american dog tick
Age can be used:  >6 months old
Company: Merck Animal Health
Prescription or
Over the Counter:
Prescription
Weight categories: 2.6 – 6.2 lbs
6.2 – 13.8 lbs
13.8 – 27.5 lbs
Minimum weight: 2.6 lbs
Cost (will vary): $50 – $75 per dose
($16 – $25 per month)

Honorable mention: Capstar

Capstar 300x170 - The Best Flea and Tick Treatments for Your Cat in 2018
Photo snapshot from Novartis website

Capstar is an oral tablet that kills adults fleas on cats starting 6 hours after ingestion. However, it does not kill the flea larvae or flea eggs and it does NOT continue to protect your cat from further flea infestation. This would need to be given once a day to be effective.

It is generally cost prohibited to continuously give your cat a Capstar tablet every day. Instead I would recommend giving this to your cat the day you discover it has fleas to help give the cat some immediate itch relief and then apply one of the 5 products listed above for continuous flea protection.

This tablet is also useful if you find a kitten that has fleas. Capstar can be given to a kitten that is at least 4 weeks old and at least 2 lbs to kill the adult fleas present. It can be used to help keep a kitten flea free until it is old enough to apply a topical treatment such as Revolution or Advantage II which can be applied at 8 weeks of age.

Active ingredient: Nitenpyram
Dosing Method: Oral
Frequency: Every 24 hours
Protects from: Fleas
Age can be used: > 4 weeks old
Company: Novartis
Prescription or
Over the Counter:
Over the Counter
Weight categories: 2 – 25 lbs
Minimum weight:  2 lbs
Cost (will vary): $3-$6 per pill
(90 – 180 per month)

Just as One Size does not actually fit all, One Product does not fit all. Be sure to talk with your veterinarian to see which product would be best for you and your cat this summer.


Products I DO NOT recommend:

5 flea and tick products to avoid this summer - The Best Flea and Tick Treatments for Your Cat in 2018

1. Frontline Plus

“But the commercials claim this is the #1 veterinarian recommended product.” you say.

Well, not any more. At least not for fleas.

In recent years we have seen fleas becoming resistant to the active ingredient of Frontline called Fipronil. I do not have studies to back this claim. My opinion is solely based on anecdotal information collected from experience through my vet clinic.

Frontline, and other products containing Fipronil, are not very effective against fleas any more but the product does still seem to work well against ticks. So if preventing ticks is your main goal this summer, this is a good product for your cat.

2. ANY product containing PYRETHRINS

A pyrethrin is a highly effective insecticide that affects the insect’s nervous system and ultimately paralyzes it.

People will say that it’s natural because it is a compound extracted from the chrysanthemum flower. But NATURAL doesn’t always mean SAFE! (For example: Lilies are natural but potentially fatal if ingested by cats – But that’s a whole different blog post)

Cats are highly sensitive to pyrethrins! When treated with pyrethrin-containing products, cats can experience muscle tremors, in-coordination, seizures, and even death.

Be careful when selecting flea and tick products for your cats! Many dog flea and tick products (such as Advantix) are deadly to cats! Even products that are specifically labeled for cats can still be harmful, especially if they contain any pyrethrins.

Read labels carefully! Pyrethrins can go by many names: allethrin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, fenvalerate, fluvalinate, permethrin, phenothrin, tetramethrin, and etofenprox.

3. ANY Hartz products

I HATE HARTZ PRODUCTS!

There I said it!

And I am not alone in this hate! There is even a facebook page dedicated to hating Hartz products, called “Hartz Products Are Killing Out Pets.”

Hartz flea and tick products for cats contain pyrethrins. You just learned that pyrethrins are deadly to cats!!

So do NOT use Hartz products! I repeat: DO NOT USE HARTZ! Any Hartz!

As a little girl, I even had a hamster once almost die from wet tail after eating Hartz food. So I learned this lesson early on and have been warning everyone since!

4. Flea collars (other than Seresto)

Many people who want fast, easy, and cheap prevention for their cat, reach for a flea and tick collar.

Most flea collars on the market are not effective! They will not necessarily cause harm to your cat but it will be a waste of your money!

Seresto collars are great! They protect the whole cat from fleas and ticks. Other flea and tick collars only protect against fleas and ticks around the neck, not whole body.

5. Seven dust

In general, it is good practice to not apply anything to your cat that is not labeled for use in cats.

Seven dust is an insecticide that some people use to keep insects off plants in their garden. Many years ago, we had a garden when I was growing up and this product was frequently used by my parents. My parent, thinking it was safe enough to use on our plants, thought it would be safe enough to use on our cats. My parent dusted all 3 of our cats with the product. Two cats were ok, but one cat had a terrible adverse reaction afterward including foaming at the mouth, muscle tremors, and odd behavior. The cat survived this and is still alive to this day, but he hasn’t quite been the same since. We never applied 7 dust to another cat!

While I do not have an explanation for this story, I tell it to you today in hopes to save another cat from this fate.


Moral of the story: Only apply safe and trusted flea and tick products to your cats!


What about flea and tick treatment for my dog?

what about my dog - The Best Flea and Tick Treatments for Your Cat in 2018

I’m sorry, I can’t help you there.

This post was meant to be cat specific because this is where my knowledge base lies.

However, I will say that each of the 5 products I recommended for cats are available for dogs. I would assume they would work just as well for dogs but I have not personally tested them. Maybe I can give you better insight into this once we own dogs in the future.



Have a happy flea free summer!

Have a FLEA FREEsummer - The Best Flea and Tick Treatments for Your Cat in 2018

Just as a reminder, these are my opinions backed by personal experience and research. Do your own research and always follow your veterinarian’s recommendations.

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