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Best flea treatments for cats: Prevent those bugs from biting

Best flea treatments for cats
(Image credit: Getty)

Investing in the best flea treatments for cats is essential. Even if your feline friend stays indoors and seldom ventures outside, there is still a chance they could come into contact with pesky parasites – a nasty shock, for sure, but one you need to be prepared for.

It's certainly important to treat cats quickly. Fleas are harmful little critters and they cause more than a terrible itch. If left untreated, they can lead to skin and coat issues as well as anaemia if wounds begin to open. Cats can also lose patches of hair by constantly licking and there's a chance your cat may even be allergic to flea saliva.

Just like the best flea treatments for dogs, you have two main ways of tackling the problem: either the best topical flea treatments for cats or a decent flea collar. Indeed, the best flea collars for cats are a great preventative method and they can be effective for up to eight months. So long as your cat is comfortable wearing a collar, they're a wonderful lightweight and affordable solution.

Topical treatments, on the other hand, are good for both preventing and treating flea infestations. If your cat does have fleas and you go topical then you're also helping to ensure the problem doesn't return – bearing in mind that you need to apply the treatment every 30 days and they're not cheap to buy.

Either of these are generally better than flea shampoos and flea sprays, both of which tend to be effective as a second line of defense rather than the first port of call. In all cases, it's advisable that you speak to your vet just to be sure that you're going down the right path. But from that point on, you can take your pick of the best flea treatments for cats in 2022.

Expert opinion in this guide is provided by:
Dr Diana Hasler
Expert opinion in this guide is provided by:
Dr. Diana Hasler BVM&S MRCVS

Dr. Diana Hasler (opens in new tab) graduated with distinction from the University of Edinburgh Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies in 2018. She has experience working as a small animal veterinarian in general practice, where she has treated many dogs, cats, rabbits, and rodents.

PetsRadar's pick of the best flea treatments for cats

Frontline flea treatment for cats

(Image credit: Amazon)

Frontline Plus

Best overall flea treatments for cats

Specifications

Available online: Yes
Amazon rating: 4.5
Treatment type: Topical

Reasons to buy

+
Kills fleas, ticks and lice
+
Easy application
+
Kills 98-100% of fleas within 24 hours

Reasons to avoid

-
The triple-action formula makes for a long list of insecticides

This spot-on treatment contains fipronil, an insecticide, and (S)-methoprene, which prevents the development of flea eggs and larvae. Fipronil accumulates in the skin and rapidly kills fleas when they hop onto your pet. This product is effective for 4 weeks, and it should not be used in kittens under 8 weeks old or who weigh less than 1 kg. For rabbit owners, please be aware that fipronil can be fatal to rabbits who come into contact with this treatment.

Dr. Diana Hasler BVM&S MRCVS

When it comes to a reputable brand that continually offers high quality flea treatment and prevention products, Frontline is almost impossible to beat. Unlike many other formulas on the market, this triple-action topical not only targets fleas and ticks but lice as well making it an absolute must for any cat that loves setting off on daily adventures into the great outdoors.

We love that Frontline Plus is easy to apply, completely waterproof and offers protection for 30 days. It comes in ready-prepared individual applicators, so you don't have to worry about making a mess while you try to measure it out - simply pop two dots a few centimeters apart on your kitty's neck, and they’re good to go.

This is a super-strong formula, but rest assured that while it's tough on fleas, ticks and lice, it's not absorbed into your kitty's bloodstream, which means it's safe to use on all adult cats and kittens over the age of eight weeks. It also comes in a convenient six-dose pack, so purchase two and you can rest easy knowing that your fur baby is protected from pesky parasites for a full 12 months.

The one drawback is that unlike tablets, this topical isn't the fastest-acting product we've seen, which means you may want to pair it with an oral medication in the first instance if your cat currently has an infestation. This will help provide immediate relief for those first 24 hours until the topical can really come into effect.

That being said, given that Frontline Plus used to only be available for use by veterinarians, this is a product that has far more pros than cons, making it a must-have addition to your flea-treatment arsenal.

Hartz UltraGuard Pro Topical Flea & Tick Prevention for Cats & KittensPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Hartz UltraGuard Pro Topical Flea & Tick Prevention for Cats & Kittens

Best budget flea treatment for cats

Specifications

Available online: Yes
Type: Topical
Supply: Six months

Reasons to buy

+
Great value for money
+
6 month supply
+
Quick-drying formula

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for kittens under 12 weeks of age

Want a powerful topical flea prevention treatment but can't stretch your budget to some of the bigger named brands? Then this wallet-friendly offering from Hartz is a great choice.

Offering an impressive six month supply at a super affordable price, this long-lasting monthly topical flea treatment is suitable for cats over 5 lbs and 12 weeks of age, is quick drying and will prevent re-infestations for 30 days.

This safe yet powerful formula is fast acting and will kill fleas, ticks, eggs and larvae and it also repels mosquitoes. It also features a patented and easy-to-use Pro-Glide angled applicator with rounded edges for a softer more pleasant application experience.

Seresto flea treatment for cats

(Image credit: Amazon)

Seresto Flea and Tick Cat Collar

Best flea collar

Specifications

Available online: Yes
Amazon rating: 4.2
Chewy rating: 90%
Sustained release: Yes
Veterinarian recommended: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Eight months' protection against fleas, flea larvae and ticks
+
Lightweight 
+
Non-greasy and odorless

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Seresto collars kill and repel fleas and ticks for up to 8 months. The cat collar comes with a safety-closure mechanism so that your cat will not get caught on anything. It may cause scratching, slight hair loss, and mild skin reactions in the first 1-2 weeks of use. For maximum effectiveness, the collar should not be removed or exposed to large volumes of water. This collar should not be used in kittens under 10 weeks old.

Dr. Diana Hasler BVM&S MRCVS

When it comes to cat flea collars, we're yet to find one that can get the job done as well as Seresto, so it's no surprise that it continues to be a firm favorite amongst pet parents. This is a standout collar that offers eight months of protecting making it a great choice if you're on a budget and not able to stretch to monthly topicals 

It’s super easy to attach, lightweight, adjustable, non-greasy and odorless and comes equipped with two safety features for peace of mind: a ratchet-release mechanism and a predetermined breaking point that means the collar will give way in an emergency.

The Seresto flea collar contains two active ingredients, Flumethrin and Imidacloprid, which are slowly released in low doses onto your cat's coat and into the fatty layer of their skin, killing fleas and ticks before they even have a chance to bite. 

And unlike topicals, which always carry the concern that your kitty might end up being able to reach the cold blob you've placed on their neck and lick it off, because the ingredient are stored in the collar and released into the skin, you won't have to worry about it being ingested. It's also waterproof, so if they decide to dive into your garden’s birdbath in hot pursuit of feathered prey you can rest assured it'll still stay active. 

While it’s one of the more expensive flea collars on the market, we’ve also found it to be one of the most effective and, considering it only needs changing every eight months, the initial investment is cost-effective in the long run. 

Vet's Best flea treatment for cats

(Image credit: Amazon)

Vet’s Best Waterless Cat Bath

Best flea shampoo

Specifications

Available online: Yes
Amazon rating: 4.2
Chewy rating: 96%
Natural formula: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Natural-ingredient formula
+
Leave-in, no-rinse foam
+
Safe and effective

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for long-term protection

This foam contains peppermint oil and eugenol (clove oil). There is little scientific evidence that these ingredients are effective at killing fleas on pets, and both can be toxic to cats if inhaled or ingested. They also have the potential to cause mild to severe skin irritation. Since so little information is available on the efficacy of these ingredients and because of the risk of toxicity, approved topical and oral products that have undergone rigorous testing and been proven to be safe and effective are recommended.

Dr. Diana Hasler BVM&S MRCVS

One whiff of this shampoo and your feline fur baby will think they’ve died and gone to cat-spa heaven. With aloe vera to keep your cat’s coat healthy, oatmeal and chamomile to soothe and calm dry, itchy skin, and Vitamin E to help combat free-radical damage from environmental pollutants, flea treatments don’t get more luxurious than this.

The innovative waterless, leave-in formula means your cat can breathe a sigh of relief knowing this hair treatment won’t have them going anywhere near a bath. Apply the foam to your cat’s coat, comb through and then let the product take care of the rest. 

This fast-drying shampoo kills fleas and ticks on contact, as well as their eggs and larvae and we love that it's all done naturally without the long list of harsh ingredients many flea treatments contain, making it a great choice for cats with sensitive skin and pet parents who don’t want toxic chemicals on their pet.

While we love this natural formula, there are some drawbacks. This isn’t a long-lasting treatment, so if you’re after year-round flea protection for your cat, you’ll have to apply this every few weeks. Some cats may not like the addition of essential oils such as peppermint and cloves, so we’d recommend monitoring your cat after the first application to see how they react.

If you’re looking for a flea treatment that’s quick, easy to use, effective, with natural ingredients and no need to bathe or use water, then this shampoo is worth a go.

Capstar flea treatment for cats

(Image credit: Amazon)

Capstar Flea Tablets

Best fast-acting flea treatment

Specifications

Available online: Yes
Amazon rating: 4.3
Chewy rating: 89%

Reasons to buy

+
Proven to start killing fleas within 30 mins
+
Effective relief in one dose
+
Safe for pregnant and nursing cats and kittens over 2lb in weight

Reasons to avoid

-
No long-term protection so best used in conjunction with other flea-control products

This tablet acts very quickly, starting to kill adult fleas within 30 minutes of ingestion. Cats may become itchy within the first hour due to the fleas reacting to the product. This medication does not have a long-lasting effect, however, so its main use is to provide quick relief for your pet. It is safe to be given with other oral or topical flea treatments, and it is safe in pregnant and lactating cats. It should not be given to kittens under 4 weeks old or who weigh less than 1 kg.

Dr. Diana Hasler BVM&S MRCVS

If your precious fur baby is scratching like crazy and looking more than a little forlorn, relief is just 30 minutes away thanks to this fast-acting formula from Capstar. 

We love that this product gets to work immediately and kills up to 90% of adult fleas in just six hours. It’s safe to administer one dose every 24 hours, which is fantastic if your cat has a major infestation and its suitability for all cats over the age of four weeks from 2lbs to 24lbs in weight, makes it a great product to have on standby for treating all the feline members of your family.

This oral formula is a great alternative to topical treatments and collars, which can cause skin reactions in some cats, and if trying to pry your fur baby’s mouth open requires a herculean amount of strength on your part, then don’t worry; this is a great product to crush up and add to your cat’s food, making life a whole lot easier for both of you.

One of the huge pluses with this formula is that it works its way out of your cat’s system much faster than topical treatments, meaning your much-loved companion is exposed to pesticides for a much shorter window of time. Capstar also chooses to use Nitenpyram as its active ingredient, an insecticide that has been proven to be lower in toxicity for animals than other commonly used insecticides.

While this product isn’t a replacement for a long-acting treatment, it’s great if you’re after something short-term to provide your cat with immediate relief. As Capstar only kills adult fleas and not their eggs or larvae, once you’ve given the first dose, try pairing Capstar with a product such as Frontline or Advantage, so you’re not only getting rid of the current outbreak but also preventing future ones.

CAPACTION Fast-Acting Oral Flea Treatment for CatsPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

CAPACTION Fast-Acting Oral Flea Treatment for Cats

An affordable alternative flea treatment to Capstar

Specifications

Available online: Yes
Amazon rating : 4.4
Fast-acting: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Starts working in 30 minutes
+
Affordable six-pack
+
For cats 2-25 lbs

Reasons to avoid

-
For short-term use only 

These tablets contain the same active ingredient as Capstar, nitenpyram. Like Capstar, it starts acting within 30 minutes and should mainly be used for quick relief for pets with flea infestations. A longer-lasting flea medication should be used afterwards for ongoing flea control, as well as an environmental treatment to kill any flea eggs, larvae, or pupae in the environment.

Dr. Diana Hasler BVM&S MRCVS

If your kitty is currently crawling with fleas, this super affordable medication from CAPACTION is just the ticket. Fast-acting, one oral tablet is all it takes to kill fleas and best of all? It starts working in just 30 minutes!

Safe for kittens and cats over the age of four weeks and weighing between 2 and 25 lbs, this six-tablet pack means you'll have plenty of medication should your cat need another treatment down the line. 

It's worth pointing out that CAPACTION isn't suitable as a long term form of flea prevention, so you'll want to stick to a flea collar or topical flea treatment as your main line of defense, but it's an excellent option if you're wanting to clear up a current infestation. 

Advantage 40 Spot On

(Image credit: Advantage)

Advantage 40 Spot On

Best for indoor cats

Specifications

Available online: Yes
Amazon rating: 4.4
Chewy rating: 92%
Treatment type: Topical

Reasons to buy

+
Kills fleas in all life stages
+
Waterproof
+
Provides 30 days of protection

Reasons to avoid

-
Not recommended for pregnant or nursing cats

This spot-on treatment contains imidacloprid as its main ingredient, which kills fleas and lice and is safe in rabbits, making this a good choice for households with rabbits. Fleas are killed within one day of application, and the topical treatment lasts for up to 4 weeks in cats. It should not be used in kittens under 8 weeks of age.

Dr. Diana Hasler BVM&S MRCVS

If your pint-sized pal is more introverted housecat than cat about town, Advantage is a great option. Unlike Frontline, which provides added protection against lice and ticks, and Capstar, which is fast-acting but not long-lasting, Advantage offers a more targeted approach by focusing solely on fleas, killing them within 12 hours and keeping them gone for up to 30 days. It’s a great option for cats who prefer the creature comforts of home to the great outdoors.

This easy to apply formula starts working immediately and the fact it’s completely waterproof means you don’t have to worry about it becoming less effective if your cat gets wet. We love that Advantage kills fleas on contact before they have a chance to bite, which is great if your feline fur baby has sensitive skin that tends to react to bites with rashes, blisters or swelling. The fragrance-free formula is also a real bonus for cats who have an aversion to strong scents. 

As well as killing 98 to 100% of fleas in 12 hours, it also kills 99% of flea larvae within the first 20 minutes of application, and any new fleas that land on your cat in the 30 days between applications will be killed within two hours. 

This product is available in a variety of doses, so make sure you weigh your cat first to ensure you’re purchasing the correct one. If your cat enjoys time indoors and out then Advantage, which doesn’t offer the same broad-spectrum protection as other brands on the market, may not be the best choice. But, if your furry four-pawed feline rarely leaves your side, Advantage is an affordable option from a reputable brand.

Catego Fast-Acting Flea and Tick Treatment For Cats/KittensPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Amazon)

Catego Fast-Acting Flea and Tick Treatment For Cats/Kittens

Fastest acting topical flea treatment

Specifications

Type: Topical
Suitable for: 8 weeks and up
Active: For 30 days

Reasons to buy

+
Kills fleas in just six hours
+
Suitable for cats over 8 weeks of age
+
Easy to apply

Reasons to avoid

-
May not be as effective with ticks

This product contains two insecticides and an insect growth regulator, so it can be used to target fleas of all life stages. The packaging has a patented applicator that is easy to use and gentle on the skin for cats with sensitive skin. It should be applied every month, and it should not be used on kittens under 8 weeks old or who weigh less than 1.5 pounds.

Dr. Diana Hasler BVM&S MRCVS

Tired of topicals that take 12 hours to start working? Well, you're in luck because with Catego fast-acting flea and tick treatment, relief is just six hours away! With a unique combination of three proven active ingredients (Dinotefuran, Fipronil, and Pyriproxyfen), Catego works quickly to enable your cat to feel comfortable again. 

The patented applicator makes it easy to apply and minimizes risk of skin abrasion. The formula is non greasy, quick drying, and will ensure your kitty stays free from fleas, ticks and lice for up to 30 days.

We love that this product can be used on cats and kittens over the age of eight weeks and weighing more than 1.5 lbs, so it's a great choice if you have a multi-feline household. Available in convenient three and six-dose packs, this fast-acting topical treatment is well worth considering. 

Advantage II KittenPets Radar Approved Award

(Image credit: Advantage )

Advantage II Kitten

Best for kittens

Specifications

Available online: Yes
Amazon star rating: 4.5
Treatment type: Topical

Reasons to buy

+
 Formulated for kittens 
+
 Works fast on fleas 
+
 Provides 30 days protection 

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't have an effect on ticks

This monthly spot-on treatment contains imidacloprid, an insecticide, and pyriproxyfen, an insect growth regulator, to target fleas of all life stages. It contains a small enough dose that it can be given to kittens and small cats weighing 2-5 pounds. It should not be given to kittens under 8 weeks of age.

Dr. Diana Hasler BVM&S MRCVS

Although this topical treatment won't kill ticks, it is vet-recommended to quickly obliterate any fleas that decide to make your feline friend their home. The fragrance-free formula is aimed at kittens weighing between two and five pounds and, as with other similar treatments, it will get to work within 12 hours of application and offer protection for an entire month.

Each pack comes with two doses (ensuring you have enough for two months) and you simply squeeze the content of a tube on to the back of your kitten's neck. The formula contains a systemic insecticide called imidacloprid, which attacks a flea's nervous system. It also has pyriproxyfen, a pesticide that can control flea growth and stop larvae and eggs from maturing.

As such, the product is able to tackle a flea problem at all of its stages while also being as gentle as possible for kittens. Since the formula works through contact, the manufacturer says the fleas won't need to bite in order to die. This ensures that your kitten doesn't have to endure any discomfort during the treatment and it keeps a check on a flea infestation at the earliest possible stage.

That said, there are some side effects. These are not unusual because most medications come with a warning but there is a possibility of gastrointestinal issues and some signs of skin irritation. In general, though, the vast majority of people using this product on their kittens are very happy indeed with reports that fleas are killed within a day or so of the first dose, allowing for ongoing flea-free treatment from that point on.

Best flea treatments for cats

(Image credit: Getty)

Solimo Flea and Tick Topical Treatment

Best long-lasting flea treatment for cats

Specifications

Available online: Yes
Amazon rating: 4
Treatment type: Topical

Reasons to buy

+
Acts within 24 hours
+
Waterproof even after bathing
+
Kills fleas, eggs and larvae

Reasons to avoid

-
Some owners report negative reactions

Solimo is an Amazon-own brand which means you can only buy this product from the Amazon website. Assuming that's not a problem, it's a treatment worth considering. As with similar products, you're going to be giving your cat a flea and tick topical treatment capable of killing those pesky parasites for up to six weeks per application. It will also kill mosquitoes, biting flies and chewing lice.

It takes just 24 hours to become active, at which point it's also waterproof which makes it ideal for those adventurous outdoor cats who like to splash around in the rain. As expected, all it takes is a drop on the back of a cat's neck and, so long as you don't forget to apply it each month, it will offer great peace of mind.

The only thing which concerns us is that some owners say their cats have had a negative reaction to the treatment although the back of pack does state that, as with all pesticide products, there can be rare sensitivities. It's always advisable to talk to a vet before using a product like this, helping to head off any potential issues. The majority of owners are also happy, reporting the products having the same ingredients as more expensive name brands.

How to choose the best flea treatment for cats

When it comes to flea control there’s no better medicine than prevention, but with not all flea treatment products being of equal quality you’ll want to make sure you’re choosing the safest option available.

There are several factors to consider to help you make the best choice for your cat, including lifestyle, age and breed. Outdoor cats are more likely to pick up fleas, ticks and lice than indoor cats, so a product that addresses all of these possibilities is worth the investment.

Some products have restrictions on them so when selecting a product, ensure it’s age-appropriate for your fur baby and also check the weight range to make sure you’re administering the right dosage.

The length of your cat’s coat can also influence the type of treatment you use and which products will be most beneficial. If you have multiple cats, then products that offer affordability may well be the way to go.

Another factor to consider is the type of treatment you’d most prefer to use. There are a range of options from topical preventives, flea collars and oral treatments to flea shampoos, sprays and combs. We recommend combining a fast-acting, but short-term treatment, with a longer-lasting one and products such as combs with flea collars or topical preventives to ensure your cat is adequately protected.

Finally, the best flea treatments for cats are formulated differently to dog flea treatments and these are not interchangeable so always choose a product labelled specifically for cats and if unsure about what to purchase, speak to your veterinarian who can advise you on the best flea treatment for your kitty.

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.