Treating your cat's fleas with natural remedies eliminates the cat's direct exposure to the toxic chemicals often found in commercial products and maintains the safety of the home. By using natural remedies, a pet owner can prevent and treat fleas and avoid the cat's exposure to pesticides linked to cancer, allergies, asthma and neurological damage. Natural remedies likely will require repeat applications because hibernating fleas in the cocoon stage may survive treatments as long as a year before dying.
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Wash Bedding and Vacuum House
Fleas feed on blood. Their saliva carries 15 known allergens, and only one bite is necessary to cause flea dermatitis, an allergic reaction in the form of welts. Understanding the flea's reproductive cycle is crucial to keeping fleas out of your home and off your cat. Flea eggs hatch from three to six weeks after the adult female lays them, and just one adult female can lay 20,000 eggs in her lifetime. Frequently wash your cat's bedding and dry it in a hot dryer to kill adult fleas, larvae and eggs. Thoroughly vacuum the carpeting, curtains and upholstery, even under cushions, to remove fleas and their eggs. These steps interrupt the fleas' life cycles and reduce the likelihood your cat will need more involved treatments.
Brewer's yeast, also called nutritional yeast, repels fleas by making the cat's blood unpalatable. According to Ecomall.com, a green-living website, feeding your cat 1 tsp of brewer's yeast daily can deter fleas from biting it. Mixing the yeast into your cat's wet food or dissolving it into water will make it easier for your cat to ingest. The University of Maryland Medical Center says brewer's yeast is a rich source of minerals and B vitamins, making it a nutritious supplement to your cat's diet. On a cautionary note, Ecomall.com advises that some cats who eat brewer's yeast experience skin allergies if they are yeast intolerant.
Washing your cat with a gentle shampoo infused with an essential oil such as pine cedar, bergamot, rosemary, lavender, eucalyptus, citronella, juniper or geranium acts to repel and kill fleas. Create a thick sudsy barrier around the neck and chin of your cat before washing the rest of the coat, Earth Clinic advises. This will prevent fleas from escaping and surviving, because they tend to move toward the cat's neck when initially exposed to the shampoo. Between shampoos, an herbal spritz consisting of water and any combination of essential oils forms an effective yet pleasant-smelling treatment for your cat's coat.
Treatment for the Home
A mixture of equal parts borax and diatomaceous earth with added salt is a safe and simple flea treatment for your home. Sprinkle the mix in areas where you would expect fleas to hide or thrive, including hard-surface flooring, and allow it to sit for two days before vacuuming. By absorbing the moisture that fleas need to thrive, the borax and salt work to make your home undesirable. The diatomaceous earth consists of "tiny fossilised skeletal remains of unicellular plants called diatoms," says Eartheasy.com, and kills fleas by puncturing their exoskeletons with microscopic-sized razor-sharp edges. You can use it independently of the borax and salt to prevent flea recurrence, even rubbing it into your cat's coat. But don't use diatomaceous earth that has been heat-treated for application in pools; it's dangerous to ingest and ineffective as a pest control. Garden centres, plant nurseries and food storage shops generally carry the untreated type.
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