Tabby kitten scratching herself because cat's flea treatment is not working

Why is my cat’s flea treatment not working? Top 4 reasons from a vet

Fleas are a frustrating and distressing issue for any pet parent, making “why is my cat’s flea treatment not working?” a common question in the clinic! A small lapse in flea treatments or the use of a substandard flea treatment ‘just this once’ can lead to months of flea bites and stress while trying to get rid of the fleas from your pets and your home. And it’s even worse if your cat has a flea allergy!

But what if you think you’re doing everything right when it comes to flea treatment, but your cat still has fleas? What might be going wrong?

1. You’re using the wrong product

There are many different flea treatments available, varying from non-prescription pet shop products without a veterinary license, to prescription-only veterinary treatments. You may think that all flea treatments are the same but actually, there are substantial differences. For instance, if a product doesn’t have a veterinary license, the amount of the active ingredient (that kills the fleas) it contains is not regulated. Therefore, a pet shop flea treatment could call itself an effective flea treatment, but only contain a small fraction of the required ingredients.

There are occasions where fleas appear not to respond, even to an effective and regulated veterinary product. In this instance, as long as no other reasons for treatment failure are identified, the flea treatment can be changed to a different medication.

2. You’ve used the wrong treatment interval

Remember that each flea treatment will have a recommended dosing interval and you should follow this. Usually, this is every month, but it can vary. Even a few days’ delay in treatment can lead to infestation if your cat has a high exposure level. A good tip is to mark the next treatment on the calendar every time you give a treatment. If you’re wondering ‘why is my cat’s flea treatment not working?’, this is a common culprit!

3. You haven’t treated your other pets

If you have other pets, it’s really important to treat them all for fleas at the same time. Otherwise, the fleas can jump between your pets, hiding on an untreated pet and waiting to re-infect when your other pets’ treatments have run out.

4. Fleas are hiding in the household

It is a great idea to treat your household with a flea spray every year regardless of whether you have noticed fleas. However, if you know that one of your pets has had fleas recently, treating your household as well as all in-contact pets is a vital part of eradicating the fleas. You should make sure that no pets are in the room when you use the flea spray, and ventilate the area well for a few hours afterward before allowing people and animals back in.

Another crucial part of removing fleas from the household is to hoover regularly and hot wash any bedding and soft furnishings where fleas may be hiding.

So, how do I get rid of fleas?

Even if you do everything right, you may get an occasional breakthrough flea problem. It can feel like nothing is working but if you follow all of the points above strictly, you should succeed at ridding your home and pets of fleas. Remember, it’s not always a quick fix and can take a couple of months of strict treatment to see complete resolution, but speak to your veterinarian if you’re concerned.

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