The best way to treat your cat for fleas

I realised recently that the trick I’ve been using to give my cat her flea treatment isn’t that well known, so I thought I’d jot it down here in case it helps anyone.

I’m talking here about applying the spot-on liquid flea treatments, the ones you put on the back of the neck. I should say first, that the ones you can buy over the counter in the UK aren’t really very strong, so they may not be effective. The best stuff can be bought from a vet – you’ll need an appointment, and they’ll want to see your cat and check them briefly, but I found it easy, quick and not particularly expensive. After that you can just pick up a repeat prescription every time you need a top up.

However if your cat is anything like mine, you find that when you try and put that liquid on his back, he’ll freak out, buck up and down, scratch you and if you’re really lucky, try and bite you. And not the cute biting either, the real stuff with feeling! You’ll only get half the dose on him, half will go over your hands, and you’ll get at least a few nasty scratches on top of a really pissed off feline. Overall, a rubbish experience for both of you.

To avoid this, I basically do four things:

  1. Warm up the liquid. This is the key! Get the little plastic vial and put it somewhere warm – a skin-temperature cup of water, down your bra, in your pocket – whatever works. You don’t want to over-heat the flea treatment, but if you get it to skin temperature you get a precious few extra moments to put it on. The closer it is to his skin temperature, the less of shock it is to the cat, and the slower he’ll be to start freaking out.
  2. Restrain the cat. Ideally apply the treatment when you have someone to hold the cat firmly – and I mean both sets of legs, back and front! Our cat is like a jack-rabbit, ready to buck out of my partner’s hands as soon as she feels anything unpleasant, so he has to hold her quite firmly. If you’re on your own, you can wrap the cat in a towel to safely and gently restrain clawed paws, though watch out for the sneaky paw-out-the-neck-hole manoeuvrer!
  3. Part the fur at the neck, but don’t stress too much and don’t use a comb etc unless your cat is very happy with this normally. The more natural you can keep it, by just using your fingers, the better. Then apply the liquid quickly and firmly and let the cat go as soon as possible. Don’t worry if you get it on yourself, just wash your hands when you’re done.
  4. Bribe the cat with a large plate of its favourite food. We always use tuna, its a guaranteed score, but whatever you use, make sure it’s real food and not just a few treats. This way you’ll end up with a cat which knows to expect a really good treat after the treatment, which makes it less pissy and easier to handle, and he won’t give you the cold shoulder half as much, which will make you feel much less guilty too!

Hope this helps. Honestly, warming the liquid is the key to making the whole thing more bearable for both of you. It only takes a few minutes of prep and it’s worth a try – and do let me know if helps.

The best way to treat your cat for fleas

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