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How to remove fleas from very young kittens

Updated on July 23, 2009

How to get rid of annoying flea parasites once and for all

If your adorable furry kitten is scratching consistently and appears irritated, very likely he/she is dealing with annoying fleas. Fleas are small parasites that feed on a cat's blood. It is not necessary for cats to go outdoors in order to get them. Being able to jump up to 16 inches horizontally and 8 inches vertically, fleas can easily "hitch-hike" on owner's shoes and clothes and sooner than later become part of the family.

Fleas can surely make cats and kittens pretty miserable. The simple crawling and biting is enough to make the most peaceful kitten irritated and turn him/her to itching and scratching as a desperate effort to get them off. Other than the considerable itching and scratching, to make things only worse, severely infested kittens may also develop allergies to the flea's saliva and develop several crusty areas near the neck and ears from the constant scratching. Some kittens may even become anemic from the extensive and continuous blood loss. For this very reason, kittens must be treated for fleas.

Cures for fleas in young kittens vary with age. If you have very young kittens that are under 8 weeks, your best bet would be to simply use a flea comb and carefully collect the fleas and dip the comb in a pail of water so they will drown. If weather permits, you may also try to give the kitten a bath with Dawn dish detergent first. Diluted Dawn detergent is very mild, and it has a history of being used to wash off petroleum leakages from a bird's feathers. In any case, ensure you dry your kitten very well with a washcloth as they are very vulnerable creatures.

Older kittens instead may effectively benefit from safe topical products such as Frontline which are recommended for kittens over the age of 8 weeks. Other effective products available from your vet are Advantage and Revolution. Never use flea products labeled for dogs on your cat.

Fleas can be easily spotted on kittens by looking carefully at their fur. The presence of little dark brown or black specks often confused for dirt in effect are actually the fleas "droppings". These little specks are commonly known as "flea dirt". If you are still unsure, you can easily have the presence of flea dirt confirmed by collecting some and placing it on a wet white paper towel. If the dirt leaks into reddish stains, it is proof that your are dealing with flea droppings which mainly consist of digested blood.

Topical treatments on kittens over 8 weeks old and older can be very effective in destroying the flea population. Many flea treatments are able to kill fleas off the cat within 24 -48 hours. However, as effective as they are, they will kill mostly the fleas on your kitten and not the ones in your kitten's environment.

The cat's sleeping areas and generally most frequented areas may have flea eggs throughout. Flea eggs may also be found in cracks in wooden floors and within the carpet's fibers. Such eggs will shortly turn into larvae and easily re-infest the area regardless of the topical treatments. Flea sprays that effectively kill flea eggs such as Ovitrol may be purchased at major pet stores or at your veterinarian's office.

While there are over the counter flea products such as sprays, collars and topicals, your veterinarian is the safest resource for treatment. Over the counter flea products and collars have been reported to cause seizures and even quite severe reactions. As a genaral rule, chemicals should never be used in kittens 8 weeks and under.


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    • profile image

      cathy von sivers 

      6 years ago

      i found 4 kittens abandined by their mom about 3 weeks ago. they were maybe a week old. they were covered in fleas and flea dirt. when I bathed them the water turned brownish red from flea dirt. It was a cinstant battle then 2 nights ago one went into a coma. the next night another one did. their mouths and guma were white. they had to sleep. the vet couldn't tell what happened but I am wonderjng if fleas made rhem so anemac they died. Fleas arw more.dangerous then I relized

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you so much for this. We just got a kitten yesterday who is very young and today I found out he has fleas. He slept with us in bed last night also. I used the dawn dish soap and then picked off a bunch of fleas. I know he has more and I plan on getting a flea comb and rubbing alcohol and having my husband help me. I can tell he only recently became infected as there are not a lot of them and he is very feisty. I did what I could while he was wiggling around. I hope to get the rest killed and off him tonight. He is fluffy so it was hard to see them until I gave him a bath.

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Farricelli 

      9 years ago

      Mari, what exactly did not work for you? What did you try?

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      this things do not work OK!!!!!! do not delve a aver thing that this say bye

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      My daughters cat had fleas before she gave birth to 1 kitten and we didn`t know if it was safe to flea her when she was pregnant. The boy is now 1 an 1/2 weeks old and has lots of fleas. We are going to try the dawn dish washing detergent and hopefully both the mum and baby will be free of these horrible pests.

    • profile image

      Stephanie & Hobbs 

      10 years ago

      I found Hobbs on the side of the road late one night when driving to wal-mart the smallest little thing i took it home and it went strait to the tub because i already have a three year old cat that is actually allergic to fleas but this little orange baby needed my help while i was at wal-mart i picked up a flea comb and a dish soap called Ivory that was supposed to work really well and it did all you have to do is this

      STEP 1

      fill the tub or sink up with enough WARM water not hot to reach the kittens tummy

      STEP 2

      slowly put the kitten in the water you don't want to scare it any more that need be (hobbs thankfully was really okay with the water had no problems there) while in the water try to get him or her as wet as possible while rubbing him to keep him calm

      STEP 3

      Put the Ivory soap in your hands and lather it up while the kitten is in the water

      STEP 4

      Starting from the neck work you way slowly down to the tip of his tail what this will do is the fleas will try to run from the soap while some will still run for the head most will run in the opposite direction trying to get away from it make sure the kitten is lathered and let him sit for about 4 to 5 min (i was REALLY lucky with my kitten he liked the water you may want to get it done quickly if so rinse off after a minute and repeat a few times)

      STEP 5

      while still soapy look at his or her head there will be fleas there that wont die because you shouldn't put soap on the kittens head, have a small cup full of rubbing alcohol close by and pick them off ( i did this with my fingers as i have long nails i took them off put them in the alcohol rinsed my fingers in the water and repeated you might be able to do it with tweezers but you would have to be very careful as to not hurt your kitten)

      STEP 6

      comb the kitten with the flea comb trying to get off as many fleas as possible don't worry to much about it though because by this time most of them are dead you will start to see them in the water because the ivory soap has killed them and they have started to fall off

      STEP 7

      rinse your kitten more fleas will start to come off most of them are gone after this step if your kitten is as badly infested as mine you will have to at this point drain the water and refill it

      Step 8

      use soap one more time and used comb again (i did not use the flea comb that much because it didn't work so well for me it seemed like the fleas would fit between the bristles but it might just be because i got it from walmart and it was cheap so i picked them out with my fingers

      STEP 9

      Dry the kitten very well you will want to part through the fur and really make sure you have them i did this for about 15-20 min only found about three though


      my boyfriend was so mad at the amount off fleas that where on this kitten and he wanted to make sure he could help this little guy and get them all off he shaved some of the kitten and after there was still two or three left he only did this because the kitten had to absolutely be flea free but i tell you this because the fleas where deep deep down in the fur that even after looking for 15-20 min i still didn't see them until he was shaved so be very careful to part through the fur as well as you can unless you want your kitten to look lake a little lion with a fuzzy tail head and legs :)

      AND make sure you check in his ears the fleas like to get on the edge and sometimes the lower parts of the inside ear not INSIDE the ear but on the surface you will see.

    • merrynow profile image


      10 years ago

      I found Gracie on my front porch July 1st and she was infested with fleas. She was only 4 weeks old and the vet would not address the flea issue because she was so young, but she told me to give the kitty a bath in Dawn Dish detergent. I went home set up the sink with a small cat box, filled it with warm water and Dawn, ,set up a bowl of alcohol right next to the sink, and took my cat flea comb and wet her down with the Dawn, scrubbed her up and saw all these fleas moving around her body, (she is mostly white). I then started to comb her and pull off the fleas and dip the comb in the dish of alcohol, (THIS will kill them immediately, not water). I did this a couple of times, thank goodness she was a little sick and did not fight me on the bath. Afte rthat I pulled the rest of the fleas off her head and washed and rinsed her a one last time, wrapped her in my best soft towel, rubbed her dry and set her in my biggest cat carrier. She went to sleep immediately and slept all day. Too much excitement I guess. She is fine now but I will never forget doing this to this little kitten who really needed a helping hand with these fleas.

      Bye the way she is now about 9 months old and a real terror...but still cute.

    • profile image

      Arlene Chase 

      11 years ago

      we live in North Pole, Alaska, guess what no fleas here.

    • flea control profile image

      flea control 

      11 years ago

      I'm not sure about other countries, but in Australia you can use Frontline Spray in puppies and kittens over 2 days of age. This has the advantage of having a residual action. If there is a heavy flea burden in the environment, you will have more fleas jumping straight away after you finish bathing your kitten.

    • KT pdx profile image

      KT pdx 

      11 years ago from Vancouver, WA, USA

      We bathe the tiny kittens (under 8 weeks old) in Dawn, flea-comb them while they're soapy, then rinse well. All in warm water. Dry them well and hold them in your lap in a towel or blanket to keep them warm until they are completely dry. Since these kittens are so small, they are more susceptible to cold, so that's why we take care to keep them warm while they dry off.

      If you are just flea-combing, use a bowl of diluted Dawn instead of just water, then rinse or wipe down the kitten. That kills the fleas better than just water, but isn't the mess of a whole bath.

      We do the same thing for the pregnant and nursing mama cats. For kittens and cats 8 weeks or older, we use either Frontline or Advantage, always the recommended dosage based on weight.

      We also take care to wash all bedding (theirs and ours) frequently so that fewer flea eggs stay viable. We still have infestations from time to time, but they generally stay under control. We also have wood floors instead of carpeting, so that helps considerably.


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