OMG- Fleas!

I can’t believe it. All four cats are indoor cats (their only “outside” is the deck, which has no egress), yet we got fleas. Obviously, they came in with the humans – or maybe that bat Maks caught about a month ago…

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a flea on Maks in the sparse hair in front of his ears. Shudder. Where there’s one, there are many. As much as I deplore chemical remedies, I know my cats well and attempting anything herbal on them would have disastrous effects – as in, I’d look like I’d been in a war. So, I bought a commercial flea remedy specifically formulated for cats. Even applying that was an adventure. The “little” boys, especially Sev, aren’t very amenable to being snuggled for a bit in such a position to get that stuff between their shoulder blades where they can’t lick it.

Because the cats weren’t scratching themselves overly-much and I’d seen none other than the one on Maks, I thought I’d licked the problem. Nope. One jumped on me the next night as I was sitting in my recliner. So, treating the rugs & upholstery was added to my ‘to do’ list. Here, I could use natural remedies.

First up: working food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) into all the upholstery & rugs. (Don’t get the stuff sold for pools.) You can also use finely ground salt. Put your kitchen salt into a grinder to powder it. Sprinkle it on, then use a scrub brush (or broom) to work the powder down into the fibers. It’s a workout, I tell you! You’ll get some powder floating around in the air. It won’t hurt you but if you have respiratory issues, wear a mask while doing this. Either DE or salt works its way into the innards of any bug with an exoskeleton (like fleas) and kills them. Leave it there for at least 30 minutes (overnight is recommended if it’s a heavy infestation), then vacuum up. Immediately discard the bag & its contents outdoors.

Then, because I believe in the belt-and-suspenders approach, I made up a voile of distilled water and essential oils for a repellent*. There are a bunch of oils that will work but the ones I chose were Rosemary, Lavender, Peppermint and Geranium. (Rosemary and Geranium are the two most-recommended when I was doing my research.) You can add up to 10 drops per ounce of water. Use your nose – you want it rather strong-smelling. Put this into a spray bottle that has a ‘mist’ setting on it, shake well and spritz all upholstery and rugs. Let it dry, then mist everything again.

NB Cats do not metabolize essential oils the same way dogs (and humans) can. Do not put EOs on your felines, even in diluted form! If your cat will allow you to bathe her, you can dilute an herbal infusion and use that.

We didn’t have a heavy infestation so this one treatment has worked. If yours is really bad, plan on doing it twice, about a week apart. The DE may not kill all the eggs in the first go-round.


*If you don’t have the EOs but do have dried herbs, make a strong infusion by steeping 2 teaspoons herb in one cup just-boiled water (covered) for about a half hour. Strain, then put into your spray bottle.