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War on Fleas

Posted by Jen on July 13, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Last year my sister brought home two kittens rescued from being laid away, otherwise known as being shot in the head by a cruel bloke who didn't want them anymore. Isn't it nice how we down play murder of innocent animals that we aren't even going to eat? If your going to kill some poor creature there should at least be a survival reason behind it, but that is neither here nor there and a story for another day. The point of this story is that they came with some tiny hijackers. So began the war on fleas.

They day she brought them home they were covered head to tail in fleas, the previous owner had thought that the answer was to put poisonous flea collars...on kittens. I wouldn't even use flea collars on adult cats, let alone a kitten which is more sensitive to things like that. I had never had to deal with fleas before but I knew that teh kittens needed to be bathed and flea combed immediately. I didn't have a flea comb so we resorted to tweezers. As you have probably guessed we weren't able to get all of the fleas from them and during the following days they spread onto my other two cats. I needed to find an effective way to get rid of them that wouldn't harm my cats as well.

The first thing you need to know when waging war is your enemy. In this case Fleas;  a wingless insect that thrives on the blood of mammals. They go through four life cycle stages. Egg;  gets anywhere the host can go including carpets, pet beds, furniture, ect. Eggs will look to the naked eye like tiny grains of salt. Larva;  a tiny little worm like thing. Pupa;  the larva encases itself in a nearly indestructible cocoon especially hard to get rid of in carpets as they weave themselves in. Adult;  the little wingless insect with amazing jumping abilities that suck blood like a vampire and are really hard to kill. According to the Wikipedia "Flea populations are evenly distributed, with about 50% eggs, 35% larvae, 10% pupae, and 5% adults." So if you can imagine that only about 5% of the flea population is what you see and find on your pets, and they are covered in fleas, what do think is in the rest of your home?

My first mistake was to treat only my pets, my line of thinking was to kill the adult fleas before they could make more eggs. I researched natural ways to kill the fleas. While some of the things I tried may help repel fleas they did not help get rid of them.

These are what I found not to work;

Homemade Rosemary Spray with Peppermint;  I sprayed it directly on the cats, soaked collars in it, and sprayed around the house.

Vets Best Natural Flea + Tick Home Spray;  I also sprayed this on my carpets and furniture and it smelled really nice but I only saw it kill a flea once when I sprayed it directly on one...and it drowned.

Neem Oil;  Smells awful, like rancid peanut oil or something I stopped using it. Might work if you can stand the smell but I didn't continue experimenting with it.

Baking Soda;  on the carpets.

As time went on and the fleas were still invading my home despite my natural warfare I grew depressed...and itchy. Some people, including at least one family member that I know of, thought I was crazy. At one point said family member, who does not believe in my methods, thought they were helping and sprayed all my cats with a flea spray, I don't remember which spray it was. What I do remember is throwing the bottle out the door across the yard in rage, kicking said person out for doing so while knowing I didn't want it done, and then proceeded to give all my cats an emergency bath.

One of my cats drooled for three days after that experience, and that was even after I had washed it off. Some, and these are only 'some', of the harmful side effects of flea 'treatments',  even some of the natural ones if you aren't careful of what you get, are worse than the fleas themselves. "Spot-On Pesticides such as Frontline, Zodiac, Defend, Bio Spot, Adams and Advantage could trigger adverse reactions in dogs and cats, shorten life spans, cause terminal illness, and premature death. Chemicals injected into your pets’ blood stream compromises their vital organs, including the liver kidney and thyroid. Pets treated with such toxins also experience nausea, nervous disorders, sleeplessness, flaky skin, scabs and other uncomfortable effects created by a compromised immune system. Application instructions warn pet owners not to come in contact with the toxic liquid, or to touch treated areas. Recent research suggests that the toxic effects lead to a 25% reduction in life expectancy in those animals treated, and inevitably to a painful and premature death."

Let's see, dead kitty or dead fleas?

I bet you can guess which I chose. Do you want to know how I did it? How I won the Great Flea War? This is how. It started with determination. With that in hand I confined my cats to one room. I bought a sticky flea trap, which is nothing more than a device with an incandescent light bulb over a sticky glue pad. It diverted fleas from my cats to the trap. It didn't get rid of the fleas but it helped keep the blood suckers away from my cats. Then I bought a couple boxes of borax and spread it on my carpets. Borax will dry out the eggs and larva and kill them before their born. It didn't kill all of them on its own either but between the borax and trap I noticed a reduction of fleas on my cats. I once vacuumed the borax up after the couple weeks that I read was recommended but the fleas started coming back so I put more down and left it there until I could find the final solution.

On a side note it is recommended on several sites that I read about flea control to vacuum often to cut down on flea eggs, as I only own a little bitty vacuum and a sad shop vac and could not afford a new improved vacuum, vacuuming is a whole ordeal and time consuming when I have to empty the little vacuum numerous times in one room not to mention money draining when I have to reapply almost a whole box of borax after each time which is why I chose to leave it. I live alone so I didn't have to worry about much foot traffic either. If you have a good vacuum by all means vacuum as much as you can as long as you can afford to replace the borax each time.

Pookah ~*~ ~*~ Oola

My two rescued babies all grown up.

Finally, I discovered cedar oil. I bought one 16oz bottle of cedar oil spray. The brand I chose to use was called Evolv and at the time I purchased it I could only find it on it's manufacturer's website,, where you can read more about it. I do not endorse or make money from telling you about them, it is simply what I specifically used. I started by spraying all my cats and my carpets and cloth furniture in my apartment twice a week. I sprayed the whole apartment in case any eggs had gotten in other rooms before I had confined my cats. A few weeks later, I didn't keep track of how long it was because I hadn't planned on writing this, I started using it only on the cats and the room they were confined to. By the time I had used half of the 16oz bottle I was only finding about 3-4 fleas on each of my cats as to compared to the dozen or so before, that was a HUGE difference. Eventually I only started using it on the room alone and was able to vacuum up the borax. I have since not found a single flea. I am still finishing off the bottle just in case of a re-infestation, I don't want to take any chances.

So that was the end of the year long Flea War, and I didn't even have to bring in the CIA, the NSA or even the TSA.

Chaos ~*~ ~*~ Karma

(On a final note, I have since reconciled with said family member who sprayed my cats.)

Categories: Home - Pets, Home - Green Living, Health

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1 Comment

Reply Mark
10:00 AM on December 10, 2012 
The way I fight fleas is very simple: I comb our two cats daily (or more) with a flea comb. That's it. I don't even worry about vacuuming, or borax or anything else at all.

One day I figured that if I was persistent, eventually I'd wipe out the flea population one bug at a time. That's exactly what happened. It takes time and effort, but I figure my kitties are worth it! (Note: They are indoor cats, so that's why this method is possible; it's a closed system, and once the fleas are gone, I just occasionally comb them to catch any newcomers that might ride in on a human or come through a window before they can start a whole new population.)