Now let me tell you right now, that getting fleas in your home and on your cats is very normal. However it doesn't make it less gross or awful and friends who have never had pets will judge you and tell you it's all your fault and blah blah and those animal haters can go to hell. Anywho, just know that hot weather brings out the worst in bugs as you all know and not all of us can afford to live in air conditioned condominiums. No, some of us live in mid century complexes with holes in the original window screens, no A/C and a stray cat in the yard that won't go away because the lonely lady nearby won't stop feeding it.
So after all the googling and crying and vacuuming, I decided to share my process. My two kitties are now treated and flea free and cuddly as ever. even thought they hated the flea bath I can tell they know that I love them and cared for them even when they don't like water or being combed or dealing with all that mess.
I'm going to list this and they might not have to be done in this order, but the point is, it helps to have a friend/lover/best friend/boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse help you because it's a lot of work for one person to do, especially if you have a large apartment and with carpet. I will give you my given circumstances so you can judge what you should adjust because everyone is different and every cat is different. I've never had dogs or ferrets or any other animal with fleas so I'm just giving what I know and learned about treating my home and my two kitties who are 1 and 2 years old.
My apt: No A/C, real hardwood floors, some rugs, couch with washable slipcovers. 2 bedroom, 1 bath, living room, kitchen
Steps in not necessarily this order: The second you see a jumping speck....GET TO WORK, because it only gets worse...FAST!
1. Treat your pets ASAP! Bathe cats in flea shampoo or light sudsy dish soap, rinse thoroughly and once combed all the fleas out (put them in soapy water to die) make sure the cat is dry and then apply correct dosage of Advantage II based on age and size of cat. Cheaper on amazon. Do so ONCE monthly and no more than that. Follow all instructions. I choose Advantage because I know it works. I don't want to waste time using anything cheaper and risk that it not be instantaneously effective. Seeing your cat(s) itching and in pain is not fun for them or for you, so treating them asap is imperative. Then whatever fleas are present, if they try to bite they will die and it prevents any more fleas from attaching on or laying eggs. COMBING out the fleas ended up being on the best things I did! It got out the ones i couldn't see and saved my kitty from more bites and itches. TO PREVENT ANY CAT from getting fleas in hot summer or humid months of the year always preemptively treat your pets. It's worth the investment so that you don't have to add toxic chemicals to your home with flea bombs and will save you and your cat all the heartache and trouble. Also One cat didn't mind the bath, the other made the most awful noises and cried and her heart was beating fast. You gotta do it, use towels to hold them, take them in the shower, make it work. (I also keep my cats nails trimmed, I'm the boss in my cat home and they trust me, however, not all cats are this trusting) If you can afford it, many groomers do flea baths.
2. Wash everything humanly possible. I don't care if you have to camp at the laundromat, anything that could have gotten clear un-seeable flea eggs on them which will hatch in 24 hours, you will want to kill instantly, not just with spray but with hot soapy water. Sheets, pillows, curtains, slipcovers, towels, laundry, even laundry you already washed and left out is probably infested. You are not just worried about the jumping black specks...its the ones that aren't jumping yet that are the tiniest to spot and hardest to kill and hatch when you aren't paying attention.
3. Spray with home spray. I used Sentry Home Spray It pretty much smells like Febreeze and worked. I kept spraying on and off for two days and it did most of the work. Couch corners, under couches, on bed legs, couch legs, anywhere your cat has been. You can tell where the fleas hang out because there are little red/brown blood spots which are from the fleas. They live off blood, so they excrete blood. At least it's not "real poo" so wipe up all those red dots and flea spray the shit out of that area. I'll be on my 3rd bottle of this spray and it has held up well and I bought it at Petco and then Amazon for the cheaper price. Sometimes you gotta spend the extra bucks when you cannot wait that two days to get to delivered to your door. Make sure if you do a thorough spray that you let it settle and dry before you vacuum or sit or let your pets near the areas you sprayed. It's not meant to be on Cats directly. There are separate sprays, shampoos, collars and such for the cat themselves. Homesprays are only for your carpet and furniture.
4. Dump out all litter. Seriously the fleas will be in there. It's where your cats sits and scrapes and hangs out. Just dump it all out. Wash each litter box with soapy hot water and rinse and dry with paper towels. Then add fresh litter, aaaaaaahhhh that's better...says everyone (well especially the cats)
5. Throw out anything that can't be salvaged. That ratty old rag you use sometimes...dump it. Anything that's a cheap toy...corrugated cardboard...toss it. Anything that won't survive a spray or flea bomb, just get rid of it. You'll be happy you don't have fleas then if you keep it and think...GOD DAMMIT, IF ONLY I THREW OUT THAT CUTE LOBSTER TOY THAT NOW IS RIDDLED WITH FLEA LARVAE WEEEE, EEWW GROSS. I IMMEDIATELY REGRET BEING SENTIMENTAL ABOUT TOYS I THINK ARE MY CAT's FAVORITE. You are a human and yes, we know you love your pets. Throw it out, your cat will be happier that it doesn't have fleas, you are the one who will be sad about the lobster, not them...
6. Vacuum. Vacuum. Vacuum.
Not kidding. The more you vacuum, the better. I PUT A FLEA COLLAR IN MY CANISTER VACCUM TO KILL ANYTHING I PICK UP JUST IN CASE. Read about it on a blog, amazing advice. It's like I'm triple killing the fleas...take that, that's what you get fleas!
7. Kill any flea you see by smashing it with your nails or fingers, smashing or crushing. The little ones are the hardest, the adults are crunchy. Vacuum. Vacuum. Mop. Vacuum. Spray. Spray. Vacuum. It's not over until it's over. If you swat the flea away, you just freed it to lay eggs on your pillow...ew.
Some people take a 100% all natural approach which may take longer. Do what you like, just know if you have pets, you need to keep them in mind. Flea foggers and bombs put heavy toxic chemicals not just on places your pet goes but also on all of your stuff. So while leaving the house for 12-24 hours to kill all the fleas seems like a good idea, it only goes where it goes...spraying allows you a lot more control over what places get treated and have a better chance of you killing off the infested sections. I personally would avoid RAID products for inside the home. Go to a Pet Store and ask an expert. The point is to keep you and your pets flea free without poisoning yourself or them. Be smart, ask for help, and you're doing a good job already if you googled this and are reading this article. There are plenty of all natural products, things you can make yourself and many pet stores with all sorts of products. Ask a groomer, they usually have a go to product they know that works.
8. Flea traps. Not sure how these work yet, but I have some coming via Amazon. Gonna set some up just to see if I catch any stragglers. (I'm thinking "A Bug's Life" Status, no matches though...)
My cats are flea free having done all of the above and a thorough thorough apartment cleaning. (I'm serious) I basically didn't sit down for 10 hours. It was worth it. Cats are happy, Momma is tired but happy and now it's just upkeep and making sure I treat the kitties with Advantage every month that it is hot and humid. Cat proofing your apartment constantly is a good rule of thumb. Fleas, bugs, bedbugs...they will come about from time to time, but the less stuff they have to make a home in the better. My cats are indoor cats so this seemed like a fluke incident, but it does happen. So if your cat is indoor/outdoor it is no question...ALWAYS TREAT WITH ADVANTAGE!
Questions? Tips? Add ons? Tweet me at @alexinhwood or comment here! Thanks friends and pet lovers!