Fleas are stubborn, but not impossible to get rid of

Oct 19, 2001

The Bottom Line You need to be relentless and thorough if you wish to rid yourself and your pets of fleas.

So your cat or dog has fleas. It's very common, and fleas are very hard to get rid of. But don't fret! You can get rid of them, you just have to know how.

Recently, my two cats, my husband and I had a several-month long battle with a small army of fleas that wished to claim our apartment as their new home. We wouldn't have it, and after trying several different things, we learned what needs to be done to get rid of fleas all together. Here's what we did to get rid of our flea infestation -- hopefully some of our experience will help you with your problem.

You need to kill each and every flea
The first thing we did was call the vet. Our vet suggested we pick up a pack of Frontline from his office. I'll review Frontline in detail later, but the short version of it is that it is basically a liquid product that you drop between the shoulder blades of your cat or dog. It soaks into their blood, and the fleas are killed each time they bite into your pet, and they are unable to reproduce.

So I went and picked some of those up and applied it. Unfortunately, it did not work for us the first time. We think that it was because at that point, the fleas were living in our apartment. They didn't just feed off our cats, but they were feeding off us! The Frontline didn't seem to be strong enough. The lesson we learned is that each and every flea needs to be addressed if you want to rid yourself of the flea problem.

Off to Petco we go
The second time we attempted to get rid of our flea problem, we were successful. But it wasn't easy -- it cost money and we had to take several steps. I'll share our experience here in the hope that it will help one of you with your flea problem:

1.) First, we went to Petco and purchased three flea bombs to set off while we were out. We have a small apartment so we got three -- one for our living room, one for our bedroom and one for our enclosed porch. We also bought flea spray. This was for "spot treating." We didn't want to actually bomb our kitchen (I didn't like the idea of setting off all of those chemicals near the food we eat. So we ended up bombing the three rooms and then spraying the hallway, kitchen and bathroom.

2.) Now you can't be in the house while the bombs are going off. They only take a few minutes, but the chemicals in the bombs "settle" for over an hour. You, and any animals, need to be out of the house during this time. (Not to mention that after all of the chemicals settle, you have to air out the area for several more hours.)

We decided that we would take that opportunity to take both cats to the vets for flea dips. The flea dip would kill every flea on their body, and the flea bombs would hopefully kill all of the leftover living fleas in the house.

3.) And to be safe, we re-applied Frontline. Any leftover fleas would go searching for our cats, but then die once they bit them. We knew we would need continued treatment.

All of this worked -- eventually
It took several days after we did all of this to stop seeing fleas. We had actually begun to feel very frustrated, we thought that all of our efforts had gone to waste. But I think it just wasn't an immediate solution. In fact, the last day or two, several fleas decided to dine on my stomach and I was itched for days after they were gone from the apartment.

We haven't seen a flea in over a month. I am hoping it is because of our effective treatment, although I have a feeling it was a combination of that, as well as the drop in temperature and the fact that it is the end of flea season.

To conclude
Our cats are completely indoor cats. We have no idea how they got the fleas, but when flea season begins next year, we are going to try some preventative treatments. I'll be calling my vet to find out which he would recommend. I have heard that flea collars are not good, and I wouldn't want to use those anyway since one of my cats has sensitive skin and would react to a flea collar. Besides, with a flea collar, all the fleas would have to do is run towards the back of the animal. It makes sense to me that the best treatment, and what you should choose, would be one that would nip the fleas in the bud (pardon the pun) before an infestation begins (or an uprising of fleas, as the case might be).

And I'll tell all of you readers, having fleas is no fun for the human parent either. Not only we were bitten but we were constantly itching and paranoid. We knew it was psychological given the fact that we always had fleas on our minds, but it was irritating to say the least.

Lastly, none of the expensive products you buy are going to help you if you do not vacuum and clean your house or apartment. Fleas can get into all sorts of nook and crannies, and you can not just spot treat your pet. You need to deal with each flea, and you might need several flea products to do it.

Funny, as I draw to an end of this epinion, I seem to be noticing every little itch on my body. Paranoia, or time for a trip back to Petco? (I'm just kidding with you folks!)

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