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Kittens with fleas, need advice

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
First my kitties had diarrhea, and now fleas. What's next? (Hopefully, healthy kittens!)
So, I found two or three fleas today on my 7 week old (we think) kittens, and I've been reading here on TCS about the safest ways to get them under control. But I still have a few questions.

1. I read about bathing them using Dawn dish detergent, and although I dread the bathing process, I plan to do this. I was just wondering if this actually kills the fleas, or just stuns them long enough to comb them out?

2. Does the Dawn do anything to the eggs/larvae, or am I going to have to break down and buy some Frontline from the vet? My hubby is already frustrated about the money we've had to spend on these "free" kittens because of their diarrhea-related vet trips. They still have to get all their vaccinations, which I know won't be cheap. And when he saw how much the Frontline costs for just one month, he looked like he was having second thoughts about bringng the poor babies into our home! (Since we have three cats, it would cost about $600/year. And we are not made of that kinda money, honey!)

3. What is the safest and most effective treatment for my carpets and furniture--Borax, Diatomaceous Earth, or Flea Collar in the vaccuum? I have a bagless vaccuum with a hepa filter, so I'm not sure I could even use the flea collar method. Everyone's comments I've read have said you have to throw the bag away. I would only be able to was the canister, not the filter.

4. Finally, will washing their bedding (and mine!) in regular laundry detergent do the trick for any fleas that may be hiding there? I have a septic system, so I have to be careful what I use in my machine.

Thanks for any advice you can give! I NEED it!
post #2 of 25
Get a flea comb and get the fleas off them. My Meeko almost died before she came to live with me from fleas. She got Severe Anemia from the fleas. I heard you can use Soap and bathe them but I never have. I had a kitten die from Pnemonia from being bathed years ago.
post #3 of 25
Use baby shampoo, to wash them, no dawn!!

You can also get a small cup of mouthwash, get the cat and a Q-Tip. Lay the cat or kitten in your lap, and as you comb or rub, use the Q-tip with mouthwash on the swab, and touch the flea, it makes the flea drunk so you can pick them off. You need to treat. carpets, bedding, all of that good flea holding stuff. I put the kids on advantage, they have been in the sink getting baths from 5 weeks old on, and a dose of advantage each month starting at 8weeks. The kids are almost 16 weeks old now and have had 3 baths. HUMMmmmm clean babies huh. I get huge welts from flea bites, and so I can't have fleas in my house, so all stay inside, and I spend the cash for the treatments.
K.
post #4 of 25
the dawn doesn't kill the fleas, not really - just makes them easier to comb out [w/a flea comb].
DE is good for crawling insects - not sure how good it'll be for jumpers, tho. altho it does scratch the skeleton, so it might work. get the food grade kind.
tell your DH [or don't ] that my 'free' kitties were my most expensive ones! Chip came from a shelter - neutered, UTD on shots, & only cost me $10!
post #5 of 25
I used the dawn with no problems on 5 week old kittens... i'm not sure if it killed the fleas or just "stunned" them, but they washed down the sink...

They have to be 6 months I think for the frontline (but my vet let us use part of a tube on them at 4 months at the clinic)... So until then, we used a flea comb 2 times a day and the dawn/washing about once a week... When using the flea comb, I set myself up in the bathroom w/ kittens, comb, tweezers, and a bowl of water...comb cat & dip comb in water to dislodge fleas...they can't swim, so they stay in the bowl until you flush them down the toilet.

FYI you can diulte the dawn in some water before applying to the kittens so it is not at full strength and you MUST avoid the eyes/face. I'd rec. getting their neck really well with it first (to prevent the fleas from heading to their face/ears/eyes/etc.) then do the rest of the body, let sit for a minute or two, then rinse really, really, well...maybe even a vinegar/water rinse after then rinse again.... Then pick off the "stunned" (or dead) fleas that didn't rinse out.

Can't help on the bedding or carpet part though.

HTH,
Art

Art
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice so far...I couldn't find any diatomaceous earth at Wal-mart last night, and that was the only place I had time to go. Can I use Borax instead, as long as I keep the kittens off the carpet while it is down?

I did give each of them baths using a few drops of dawn for each. It was their first bath, but they toloerated it as well as I could have expected. I didn't end up any more scratched than I already was, so that is good! I found one dead flea on the towel after drying Max, but no more, even with the comb. Last night DH and I combed each of them just to get them used to the feeling, and we caught 2 fleas, but couldn't get one off Max...I'm hoping that was it! I got one or two more off Maggie, but her fur is soooo thick and dark that I'm afraid I may have missed a bunch. She really didn't enjoy the process at all...even the warm towel drying, which the other 2 loved. Molly was last, and we found 5 or 6 fleas on her. I don't know if she just had more to begin with or if we just saw more of them because of her light gray fur. I just hope we got most of them. This is no fun!

I'm washing and drying all their rugs and bedding now, then mine will go in the wash as well. But I'm still not sure what to do about the carpet.
post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
Oh, I forgot to say that the reason I'm so worried about the carpet is that we just moved into this house a month ago. The previous people living here had one small dog who always was indoors, and two other dogs who probably stayed outside most of the time. The house was pretty filthy when we moved in...I even found lost of mouse droppings around the kitchen and bathrooms! So it is quite possible the kittens actually got the fleas from my carpet rather than from their previous environment. I would love to use one of those "flea bombs" or foggers people talk about...but I don't know where we would go for several hours with three young kittens! I need a better solution.
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cocoa Cream View Post
So it is quite possible the kittens actually got the fleas from my carpet rather than from their previous environment. I would love to use one of those "flea bombs" or foggers people talk about...but I don't know where we would go for several hours with three young kittens! I need a better solution.
they most likely did. fleas can be dormant for YEARS waiting for something warm-blooded to show up - carpet's one of their fave places to stay when they are, too.
one reason i have all hard floors in my house!
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by laureen227 View Post
they most likely did. fleas can be dormant for YEARS waiting for something warm-blooded to show up - carpet's one of their fave places to stay when they are, too.
one reason i have all hard floors in my house!
Yeah, I'll be keeping that in mind when we start serious remodelling!
post #10 of 25
I have hardwoods too. I went to someone's home years ago whose dog had fleas and it was awful. I ended up bringing them into my house. I had not pets so I set bombs. It took four rounds to get rid of the things.
post #11 of 25
Well unfortunately Frontline or Advantage is not really an option, it's a year round necessity to prevent fleas from living on your kitten or dogs, b/c there is always the chance a flea will get in your house.

You will have to get your kitten treated with Frontline or Advantage and then dewormed.

Flea collars work mostly only around the neck area so they are not recommened.

You are going to have to intensely vacuum and your carpets and upholstery and wash your curtains, beddings etc.

Fleas are a nightmare, not just for the cat, but for humans too as they carry diseases if not kept in check.

Even if they don't go outside, the fleas can jump on your socks when you are outside walking by anywhere there is shrubbery b/c they live in the dirt, so when you go in your house, they then jump on the cat.

After they have bitten the cat, they lay eggs. As the cat walks around your house the eggs fall off of it wherever they walk or laydown or pass by even briefly. The eggs then turn into larvae (little worm-like critters). The larvae hate bright light so they quickly crawl into dark places to hide and grow. Like under the bed, under furniture, base boards, floor cracks, under the carpet. They then spin cocoons. They can live in their cocoons for up to a year.

When the cocoons become adult fleas, and a warm blooded mammal like a cat walks by, they then jump on on the cat starting the cycle all over again.

If there are no animals around they will jump on and bite humans. Luckily they can't live on us but they can give us diseases like Lyme Disease.

A good product to use to spray your carpets etc. is Zodiac Advanced indoor Insect spray. It kills adults fleas in 10 mins. the eggs and the larvae and also ticks. It sells for about $20 for a 16 oz can. Just make sure you follow the directions *exactly* It's important *not* to overspray b/c it will leave an oily residue that can rub off on the cats when they walk on the carpet and obviously you don't want them licking that stuff.

Sadly it does not kill the cocoons. Nothing does. They are virtually indestructible. But by vacuuming strenously there is a good chance you are getting many of the eggs and cocoons. And by spraying you are killing the fleas and eggs. Unfortunately one treatment may not be enough. You will more than likely have to repeat the treatment twice or maybe three times before before breaking the reproduction cycle.

Sadly, my cats caught fleas too and I have done a *ton* of research on this subject. If you wish to learn more just google fleas, flea life cycle, what fleas look like and you will find a ton of information out there.

Anyhow, yes it will be costly to flea proof your house but it will be well worth it!

If your husband does not want to keep the cats b/c of the cost involved then do your best to make sure they go to good homes! But you will still have to treat them first and even with the cats gone, you will need to flea proof your house.

good luck!
post #12 of 25
I just wanted to add, I don't know about using Dish soap as opposed to a flea shampoo, it might be too drying to your cat's skin, but I do know that bathing them will kill fleas that are on them, but it won't prevent new fleas from jumping on them.

I would not use Borax or that earth! Those chemicals could be too strong and harmful to your cats!

The flea collar in the vacuum is a great idea, but it will only kill the fleas that get vacuumed up!

Please before you do anything I highly recommend you do some research. Once again, just google fleas, flea larvae, and you will find a lot of information!

Hope this helps!
post #13 of 25
the only place locally i've been able to find food grade DE is the feed store. you can buy it online, but shipping is fairly steep - it's kinda heavy.
it won't hurt the kitties at all, tho - even if they eat it. that's why you need the food grade version.
they sell a non-food grade for pool filters - don't use that one!
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
Shanynne, thanks for the info...I realize that this is going to be a long battle. My DH and I would not ever get rid of the cats, but I'm not sure how far he is willing to go as far as expenses. We simply weren't expecting so many probablems right off the bat. My family always has had indoor/outdoor cats and dogs, and we never have had flea problems.

By the way, where can you buy Zodiac Advanced? Any chance I'll find it at Wal-mart? I live in a pretty small town, as in no major pet stores, so I'm having trouble finding some of the less common items for my pets.
post #15 of 25
If you can get your kitties out for a day, get the place professionally bombed. Or just get a professional in there to do whatever they do for fleas to make sure they don't return to your kitties.

If you can, call your vet and ask if they will get you some Capstars. They are a pill that are safe for kittens and in 30 minutes all fleas will be dead and falling off your guys. Then you can brush the dead fleas and eggs off.

I'd see if you can take them to the vet for a day and have that done, then while they are at the vet for the day get the place professionally handled. Fleas are a scary thing and unfortunately something I've dealt with a couple times. Good luck!!!
post #16 of 25
I thought that I had already replied to this thread (2 days ago) but it seems that it didn't go through...

I used dawn on my kittens because that is what the animal shelter reccommended...also advantage and frontline are not supposed to be given until ~4 months, that's what my vet said, at least... She did apply part of a tube at the vet's office when they were ~3 months, but we did the following before then:

1. Bathe kittens using dawn (original blue) dish soap (diluted in water). Let stand on kittens for 1-2 minutes then thuroughly rinse off. Then do a vinager/water rinse, then rinse, rinse, rinse. You should see the fleas falling off...not sure if it kills them or stuns them.

2. After bathing, use a flea comb to remove fleas not washed off.

3. We flea combed at least 1 time a day... I kept tweezers and a bowl of water handy (to drop the fleas into as I removedthem). Fleas in the bowl of water got flushed down the toilet.

4. We bathed them with the dawn about once-twice every week... Did not hurt them or dry out their coats, as long as we rinsed VERY thuroughly.

5. I'd suggest, when bathing, to thuroughly coat their neck first, so that the fleas won't run to their ears, nose, and eyes...Then get the rest of the body.

I would not use any flea meds or shampoos without consulting your vet. Most say they are for animals 6 months and older. Also, the OTC flea meds from walmart/other places can be hazardous to cats/dogs. I would only use the authority or frontline.

HTH,
Art
post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cocoa Cream View Post
Shanynne, thanks for the info...I realize that this is going to be a long battle. My DH and I would not ever get rid of the cats, but I'm not sure how far he is willing to go as far as expenses. We simply weren't expecting so many probablems right off the bat. My family always has had indoor/outdoor cats and dogs, and we never have had flea problems.

By the way, where can you buy Zodiac Advanced? Any chance I'll find it at Wal-mart? I live in a pretty small town, as in no major pet stores, so I'm having trouble finding some of the less common items for my pets.
I got mine at Petco. Unfortunately I didn't see any at my local Wal-Mart, but they may have it in your location it's worth a try!

If it's any encouragement, once you have sprayed your house once or twice (twice at two weeks interval is best to kill the newly emerging larvae from previously dropped eggs that survived the first treatment) it shouldn't be necessary to spray again. Just keep up the monthly advantage or frontline treatment though.

And yes as others have mentioned depending on how old the kitties are you need to check with the vet to see what dose they can be given.

There is also something called Capstar that is a pill that you can give them each day that will kill the fleas on them. But it is pricey. Also I haven't had a chance to ask my vet about that product and you would still have to spray.

Good luck!

Shanynne
Extreme Kitty Lover
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shanynne View Post
I just wanted to add, I don't know about using Dish soap as opposed to a flea shampoo, it might be too drying to your cat's skin, but I do know that bathing them will kill fleas that are on them, but it won't prevent new fleas from jumping on them.

I would not use Borax or that earth! Those chemicals could be too strong and harmful to your cats!

The flea collar in the vacuum is a great idea, but it will only kill the fleas that get vacuumed up!

Please before you do anything I highly recommend you do some research. Once again, just google fleas, flea larvae, and you will find a lot of information!

Hope this helps!
I was going to let others reply here to help you out but I have to make a couple comments.

Do NOT use over-the-counter flea products on any cat or kitten! They are dangerous and can cause death. You need to get any medications from your vet, especially for kittens this young.

Chances are the fleas are in your carpeting/rugs. You will need to kill them because even after bathing your kitties, when they walk over the rug/carpet, the fleas jump on for a meal.

One of the safest ways to kill the fleas in your rug is with Diatomaceous Earth (food grade as suggested). It is not a CHEMICAL. It is chemical-free. It is made up of miniscule crustaceans that are ground into fine powder. When ground, the particles are like little slivers of glass to insects but totally harmless to mammals. In fact if your kitties should eat (ingest) any, the worst it would do is get rid of any parasites your kitty has which is a good thing. You should cover your mouth and nose when dusting so as not to inhale the powder - it won't hurt you but it can be uncomfortable. I found my container at our local garden centre but had to ask some questions before I was assured it was human/food grade. I put it around an ant hole near my baseboards and within 1 hour I had no more ants coming in my kitchen.

You may find lots of information on the internet, but please don't believe everything you read. Talk to your vet at least even if you don't go see him/her. Flea collars cut up and put in the vacuum is a good idea, but you DO have to empty the bag/canister outside after each vacuuming.

The original Dawn is a safe product to use on your cat/kittens - in fact IMO it is safer than the flea shampoos that you would get over-the-counter.
post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the continued advice from everyone! I'm trying the borax method right now, and I'm just not letting the kitties walk on the carpet until I've vaccuumed just in case it could be harmful. I will probably still look for some of the DE at the local farm store and garden centers in town this weekend. Monday we go to the vet again for shots, so I'll definitely ask them what they recommend at this point. In the mean time, I'm going over the kitties 2 times a day with the flea comb to keep things at least somewhat under control.
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
We went to the vet today for booster shots, and I asked him about out options in flea treatment. At this point the most affordable and effective option for us is to use Frontline Spray, because they are still so small that it will last for a few months. The vet also had some aerosol spray for the carpet called "Knock Out." That is supposed to kill whatever I've got in my house already and stop the cycle. So, hopefully, we will be flea free in the very near future!

Thanks for all your great advice and comments. It is encouraging to hear from other people who have truly "been there and done that."
post #21 of 25
Talk to your vet and see what advice they have to give.

Where we live, fleas are not too much of a problem. Our vet recommends only giving treatment as and when necessary, as one of our kittens, Conor, experienced side effects with the medication (nothing serious - but enough to scare us and her) and Steve (who is a nervous cat to begin with) got really, really stressed out by the application. I have a friend with three cats who only applies treatment before they go into boarding (required) because one of her cats experiences quite serious side effects (very scary - I was there the last time she had to apply). Since we have treated, we haven't had to re-treat. Our vet thinks our (former feral) kittens got the fleas from when they lived on the street and since they are indoor cats, he told us to monitor the situation before we went about treating them all the time. I don't know - all situations are obviously different, but in all my years as a pet owner (mainly dogs), I have never had to do consistent treatment, and neither has my husband (mainly cats). Talk to your vet - they will know what your environment is like and can advise you!
post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cocoa Cream View Post
We went to the vet today for booster shots, and I asked him about out options in flea treatment. At this point the most affordable and effective option for us is to use Frontline Spray, because they are still so small that it will last for a few months. The vet also had some aerosol spray for the carpet called "Knock Out." That is supposed to kill whatever I've got in my house already and stop the cycle. So, hopefully, we will be flea free in the very near future!

Thanks for all your great advice and comments. It is encouraging to hear from other people who have truly "been there and done that."
I've heard of the Spray for young kittens - excellent. I just wanted to add that if your infestation is particularly heavy, the Knock Out may not do the trick. We had a serious infestation some years ago and tried all the products from the vet which were stronger than those available in retail stores and nothing helped until we got a professional exterminator.

Also one poster mentioned flea collars only working on the area around the neck - please DO NOT EVER use a flea collar at all. They are very dangerous to the health of your cat. The only good use for a flea collar is to cut it up and put pieces in the vacuum.

I also wanted to mention that diatomaceous earth is extremely lightweight - imagine a very fine powder and the weight. I can't imagine it would be terribly expensive to ship from an online order. I have a large container and it probably doesn't weight 400 grams.
post #23 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yosemite View Post
I was going to let others reply here to help you out but I have to make a couple comments.

Do NOT use over-the-counter flea products on any cat or kitten! They are dangerous and can cause death. You need to get any medications from your vet, especially for kittens this young.

Chances are the fleas are in your carpeting/rugs. You will need to kill them because even after bathing your kitties, when they walk over the rug/carpet, the fleas jump on for a meal.

One of the safest ways to kill the fleas in your rug is with Diatomaceous Earth (food grade as suggested). It is not a CHEMICAL. It is chemical-free. It is made up of miniscule crustaceans that are ground into fine powder. When ground, the particles are like little slivers of glass to insects but totally harmless to mammals. In fact if your kitties should eat (ingest) any, the worst it would do is get rid of any parasites your kitty has which is a good thing. You should cover your mouth and nose when dusting so as not to inhale the powder - it won't hurt you but it can be uncomfortable. I found my container at our local garden centre but had to ask some questions before I was assured it was human/food grade. I put it around an ant hole near my baseboards and within 1 hour I had no more ants coming in my kitchen.

You may find lots of information on the internet, but please don't believe everything you read. Talk to your vet at least even if you don't go see him/her. Flea collars cut up and put in the vacuum is a good idea, but you DO have to empty the bag/canister outside after each vacuuming.

The original Dawn is a safe product to use on your cat/kittens - in fact IMO it is safer than the flea shampoos that you would get over-the-counter.
Hi! and thanks for your post! Thanks for the info. about Dawn, I will definitely use that to bathe my kitties (glad I waited).

About the Diatomaceous Earth, it sounds fantastic but how *exactly* does it kill the fleas? Also will it kill the eggs and larvae too? And how do you use it? How long do you have to wait before vacuuming and how often do you have to reapply!

Thanks so much for your help!
Shanynne
Extreme Kitty Lover
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shanynne View Post
Hi! and thanks for your post! Thanks for the info. about Dawn, I will definitely use that to bathe my kitties (glad I waited).

About the Diatomaceous Earth, it sounds fantastic but how *exactly* does it kill the fleas? Also will it kill the eggs and larvae too? And how do you use it? How long do you have to wait before vacuuming and how often do you have to reapply!

Thanks so much for your help!
Shanynne
Extreme Kitty Lover
Diatomaceous Earth is made up of crushed diatoms which are a miniscule crustacean. When ground, the pieces are to insects like shards of glass would be to a human. As the insects walk or crawl through it, the "pieces" cut the exoskeleton of the insect and they die (I believe by suffocation). It can be sprinkled into carpeting or furniture - just sweep it down into the fibres of the carpeting and it will kill any hatching fleas as well. I also sprinkle a bit around the baseboards near the exterior doors. I honestly don't know how long it will take but I did sprinkle some in a hole where I had ants coming in and they were gone within an hour. I imagine it will take longer than that with the fleas and the hatching larvae in the carpeting. I would let it sit a couple days at least before vacuuming and even then you'll probably still have some of the powder down into the carpeting if your vacuum isn't a huge suck-monster. You can use it as often as you wish. It is perfectly harmless to mammals and if ingested (human/food grade only), the worst it would do is get rid of any internal parasites the mammal may have.

It MUST be the human/food grade - do not use the industrial grade DE.
post #25 of 25
Hi Yosemite

I've been looking into the DE and was all set to pick some up but now my husband is worried it might hurt the vacuum cleaner

I feel really silly asking but I promised my husband I would, so has it harmed your vacuum in any way? I don't know like maybe, clogged it or anything? I have a Dyson so it is a bagless. I don't know if that would make a difference or not.

Also, how thick do you have to spread the powder for it to be efficient? And how often have you had to reapply?

Thanks for your help and patience!

Shanynne
Extreme Kitty Lover
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