Granted, living with 15 feline furbabies (12 indoor, 3 outdoor) isn’t a normal state of affairs for most households. However, most of us with furball family members have had to deal with fleas at one time or another. Depending on where you live, this can present a year-round problem.
We suspect that basement mice brought the first fleas in with them though we may also have carried a few in from the garden on our pant legs and socks. With a milder winter last year, I was afraid the flea situation might become worse than usual. I was not expecting to have to go to war.
We started out the season with an habitual dosing of our cats with Frontline Combo (not an inexpensive solution with so many cats) even though we both feel badly about assaulting our pets with these chemicals. In the past, we believed it helped to keep us flea-free. While the cats obviously don’t like feeling ill on the day they are dosed, they do enjoy life without being constantly bitten. Unfortunately, the effectiveness only seems to last for 7 to 10 days. Since redosing isn’t recommended for 6 weeks, that leaves more than 4 weeks of footloose and fancy freedom for the fleas—not good.
My husband began researching alternatives when an impending fleamageddon became clear. We started by adding non-toxic flea traps. We used both Aspectek and Victor brands. We haven’t noticed a difference in performance, though the Victor is a little easier to assemble. Plan on periodically replacing lights. We bought green lights to try since some people mentioned they are more attractive to fleas. They seem to work about the same.
Next, we tried Vet’s Best Flea + Tick Home Spray. This enabled us to spray carpeted areas that seemed to be particularly popular for flea parties. The drawbacks to this product are that it makes me cough and it cannot be used on the animals themselves. However, I still use it because I like to alternate products in order to foil the pesky fleas.
Our preferred sprays are Cedarcide Original and their 3% solution (D.A.S. Domestic Animal Spray). These can be sprayed on carpet, upholstery, bedding, and pets (with care). They can also be applied with a special brush. I’m not a fan of the smell of this spray but it’s a temporary drawback because I’m a total fan of the job it’s done in abating our infestation. I can spray it liberally without worrying about harming our cats or ourselves while it kills fleas dead.
Another major component of our battle tool chest is my beloved vacuum. I’ll admit that I don’t much like the chore of vacuuming. However, with the right vacuum it’s much more inviting. When my husband and I first married, we were fortunate enough to purchase an Electrolux (back when the canister was made of metal). I wore out two hoses with that old workhorse. It lasted 20 years before giving up the ghost. We then went through a series of much less expensive brands, most of which lasted a year or so.
A few years ago we found a suitable replacement that may seem expensive but has already taken hold of our hearts like the old Electrolux did. Our Miele Cat & Dog Canister vacuum successfully sucked up countless fleas over the past summer enabling us to fight off this infestation ourselves. We didn’t have to resort to the big-time chemical assault of the exterminators we used several years ago.
Without carpet, we might have gone with a less expensive version of the Miele. I’m guessing the bags are a large part of the success of these machines. I plan on taking out more of our carpet over the winter since it seems to harbor the little devils and their eggs.
Our last tool is the flea comb, which my sister-in-law calls her cat cuddle comb. I have to admit that it’s kind of fun to see the cats queue up in line once they see the bowl of soapy water and comb come out. Most of them really enjoy being combed and now associate the combing with having less fleas to deal with afterwards.
The proof of success from our recent battle against fleamageddon can be seen in the happiness of our relaxed cats and their spending more time on the floor. While it might be humorous to watch them try to get from point A to point B with as few steps on the carpet as quickly as possible, it becomes a lot less funny when considering their reasoning is based in pain, suffering, and fear. Suffice it to say that we are happy to be nearly flea-free again. I highly recommend using this multi-pronged, non-toxic approach in the battle against fleas.
Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online at Humings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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