How to Get Rid of Fleas on Kittens

Kittens with Fleas

Fleas are always troublesome, but they present a particular problem when they infest a young kitten. Firstly, very young kittens with a heavy flea infestation are at danger of anaemia which can make them very ill and in some cases may prove fatal.  Secondly, most of the most effective flea treatments are not to be used on kittens younger than eight weeks.  Therefore, it may seem that you have a potentially fatal problem without an effective solution.

Young kittens with fleas require careful treatment

Getting Rid of Fleas on Kittens Under 8 Weeks

Most of the conventional flea treatments such as shampoos, powders, collars and spot on treatments are not to be used on young kittens as their ingredients are too harsh.  However, it is possible to remove the fleas without resorting to chemicals. Here is a kitten flea treatment that won’t harm your kitten.

Bathe the Kitten

  • Fill a sink with lukewarm water (test the temperature first, just as you would for a baby).
  • Immerse the kitten’s body, but only up to her neck.  Make sure that the fur is thoroughly wetted.  Use a soft cloth to wipe the face.
  • Using a small amount of mild liquid detergent, like Dawn or Fairy, very gently work over the kitten’s body taking care not to get any soap in the kitten’s eyes.
  • Rinse off the soap in the sink.
  • Dry the kitten gently.

Use a Flea Comb

Once your kitten is dry, get rid of any remaining fleas by combing.

  • Fill a small bowl with hot soapy water and put it next to you.
  • Comb over your kitten to catch any fleas.  Put any live fleas in the bowl of water to kill them.
  • You can also use your fingers to catch the fleas.
  • Having trouble catching the fleas?  Put a dab of Vaseline on a live flea; it stops it running!

Treat the Nursing Cat

If your kittens were born at home, the most likely source of their fleas is their mother.  If she has fleas she will reinfect them as soon as you get rid of them.  Therefore, you need to treat her too.  Not all flea treatments are suitable for nursing cats; Advantage Flea Control is safe for pregnant and lactating cats.  The manufacturers claim that nursing cats who have been treated with Advantage will pass on protection to their kittens. [break]

Advantage will start killing adult fleas within an hour.  If you have not treated your cat through her pregnancy and find fleas after the kittens are born you could treat your cat whilst you take the kittens away to be washed and combed.  By the time the kittens are given back to their mother she should be free of live fleas.

Treat your Home

Due to the nature of the flea life cycle it is never enough to kill just the adult fleas on your pets.  The fleas on your pets make up only a tiny percentage of the flea problem.  The majority of the flea population are residing in your home; in your pet’s bedding, in the cracks of skirting boards, in your furniture and in your backyard.  If you fail to deal with the fleas around your home your efforts to treat the fleas on your cat are doomed to failure.

Read my post on how to get rid of fleas in your home to find out how to effectively disrupt the flea life cycle.

Flea Treatments for Kittens Over 8 Weeks Old

Most of the effective flea treatments are safe for your kitten once she reaches 8 weeks of age.  Frontline, Advantage and Revolution (Spot on treatments) and 4Fleas (tablets) can be used, but always check the instructions and check your kitten’s weight.  If in doubt, ask a veterinarian.

Bringing a Kitten with Fleas into your Home

Some people buy kittens and bring them home, only to find that they have fleas.  The fleas can quickly be passed on to other pets in the home and infest the house.     This is an easily avoided problem.

  • Check the kitten for fleas before you buy it.  You might want to ask yourself whether you should take it at all; if the seller hasn’t treated this most basic healthcare issue, what other problems might the kitten have?
  • If you simply have to have the kitten, arrange to take it to your vet on the way home.  Get the vet to spray/put a spot on treatment on the kitten.  (Really a kitten shouldn’t be removed from its mother until 8 weeks, so it should be safe to treat).  This should ensure that you don’t take live fleas into your home.
  • Be vigilant and keep your kitten’s flea treatments up to date.


  • Fleas pose a threat to young kittens, treat them swiftly.
  • Don’t use flea treatments designed for older kittens and cats on kittens under 8 weeks old.
  • Use a safe regime of bathing and combing to treat young kittens.
  • Treat all pets in the house, including the mother cat, at the same time.
  • Don’t forget to treat your home for fleas too.

Photo Credit:  Carlos Porto/


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