Kill the fleas, not our baby.
June 7, 2011 5:01 PM   Subscribe

Cats, fleas, prevention, difficulty +11 weeks pregnant. How do I keep the fleas away but not endanger my wife (or future child)?

Three cats, and we had fleas last summer. Quite a bit of work to make them leave; including some drops on the cats and (eventually) flea bombing most of the house.

The problem? The Mrs. is 11 weeks pregnant; we're going into summer and there are quite a bit of rabbits/moles in the area (which we like); along with mice (who have occasionally gotten into the house.) As much as we can, we've tried to find any exterior small holes, but mice are good at getting into places, aren't they?

BTW, we're catch and release people, not mouse killers.

Any idea of how to stay flea free and not endanger our progeny?
posted by Towelie to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Revolution - little ampules you get from the vet and squeeze the liquid on the back of the cat's head. You should do it not her but it's far more effective than flea bombing - the cats shed it where they hang out and it will kill fleas - and ticks and heartworm. Horribly expensive but so so worth it.
posted by leslies at 5:03 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Seconding Revolution. It's the only thing that stopped our fleas and the cats are still flea-free several weeks later.
posted by guster4lovers at 5:04 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

keep in mind that any flea drops you put on the cats will stay on their skin/coats for at least 72hrs and she can't touch them in that time and will also need to avoid any places they commonly rest.

we went through the hell of a flea infestation when I was pregnant last summer and the worst part was avoiding the kitties after their drops. yep, even worse than the bites.

the one thing we wanted to do but couldn't afford might be an option for you: Fleabusters. there's an option to self-apply the product, but I've heard it works so much better if you let the pro do it. this is in concert with having the kitties treated, of course.

my fantasy was to go to a La Quinta for a couple of days so the Fleabusters treatment could settle in without me and have the kitties treated by and boarded at the vet for a couple of days so I could come home to happy kitties and flea-free home. probably not viable for you guys, but maybe...?
posted by batmonkey at 5:15 PM on June 7, 2011

Just to be clear about it, when squirting your kitty with Revolution, you part the fur at the back of the neck, exposing a tiny sliver of bare skin, then squirt onto the skin. Of course, you get a little on the fur in the general area too, and the Mrs. will avoid touching the cat. But it's not like you spray it on the fur!
posted by exphysicist345 at 5:21 PM on June 7, 2011

The only foolproof way I ever found was to keep the cats indoors. Revolution only sort of worked for me.
posted by something something at 5:28 PM on June 7, 2011

It's reassuring to note that Revolution is safe to apply to pregnant cats and dogs.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 5:29 PM on June 7, 2011

We give our cats Capstar tablets, which seem to work better than the topical medication. Plus: no mess (unless you have a cat that hates taking pills).
posted by vickyverky at 5:34 PM on June 7, 2011

...but mice are good at getting into places, aren't they?
For this problem I suggested a cotton ball and putting peppermint oil on it. Works like a charm for me! Looks like it may help with moles, also. (I am not associated with the source in the link, but I have purchased from them numerous times)
posted by 6:1 at 5:41 PM on June 7, 2011

We did Frontline on our kitty and dog when I was pregnant. Baby Llama does not have two heads, or resemble a flea.

We felt a little iffy about chemicals, honestly, but given the choice it seemed right. Mr. Llama would apply the Frontline once a month in the AM, and I felt okay about sleeping with them at night, even given Llama Dog's tendency to hog my pillow.

Pregnancy's sort of a series of trade-offs in that way. You stop getting your hair colored and give up all the good household cleansers, but I tell you, if I had to face fleas in a heatwave in August while pregnant, I'd probably have to kill a guy.

I think you just have to pick your battles, basically.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:58 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

When my boss had his house sprayed with an herbal bee repellent made up of camphor and mint, the cockroaches came out of the woodworks to die. So I highly recommend giving camphor a try.

According to the camphor Wikipedia page, "Dried rosemary leaves, (Rosmarinus officinalis), in the mint family, contain up to 20% camphor."

A google search turned up this advice:
You can add brewer's yeast or nutritional yeast, fresh garlic or flaxseed oil to pet food for skin health and as a flea repellent. [of these, I would try the garlic first.]

Use herb-based flea collars that contain combinations of various herbs that repel fleas, such as lavender, mint, rosemary, sweet woodruff and cedar.
Personally, I'd try making that herb-based flea collar first. If that didn't work, I would try oils of these on the back of the neck the same way you would use Revolution.]
posted by aniola at 6:03 PM on June 7, 2011

I did the Fleabusters powder when Frontline stopped working. I was finding fleas and eggs every day, and a week or so after the Fleabusters we were down to almost zero fleas.

I applied myself, to a ~700 sqft, two bed apartment. A larger place would have been much more difficult and time consuming, and as it was it took at least three hours to do a good job, lots of moving furniture and vacuuming. There is a professional application service that costs at least $200. The powder itself is about $30 and if you have a large home you may need two canisters.

The advantage is that Fleabusters is very low toxicity; it's basically fancy boric acid which you need to ingest several grams of before you'd feel any ill effects. Contact with smaller amounts would cause a little irritation at worst. You want to avoid breathing it in too much while you're applying, but you wife doesn't have to be there for that.
posted by slow graffiti at 6:06 PM on June 7, 2011

Correction. Camphor, according to another Internet article, is also toxic to cats.
posted by aniola at 6:10 PM on June 7, 2011

Turn on a nightlight in the evening. Put a bowl of water underneath. The fleas will jump into the light, bounce off and drown in the bowl of water. Works
surprisingly well.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:11 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

... basically, anything that will kill/repel fleas is probably not good for the baby. So personally, I'd be sticking to flea combs and keeping the cats exclusively either indoors or outdoors for the summer.
posted by aniola at 6:11 PM on June 7, 2011

Also our cats were given a shots of something by the vet to prevent to kill any fleas they had and prevent them from coming back. Works great.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:15 PM on June 7, 2011

Just to clarify above comments:

Capstar is meant to be a one-time (or occasional) treatment to kill any fleas currently on the animal. Revolution is meant to be monthly to prevent fleas.

Ask your vet about flea pills you can use instead of Revolution. A little Googling came up with Program Flavor Tabs. We give our dog something similar called Comfortis.
posted by radioamy at 7:16 PM on June 7, 2011

the drops, although they are put on one very tiny area of the cat, act by spreading across the entire skin of the animal, thus becoming present on any particular fur if not every single one, especially with licking.

none of us can know the potential of harm/utter harmlessness of many things used on pets because most knowledge about interaction with the human system is anecdotal/incidental, especially when it comes to the unborn/infants. and what might be fine for one person might be an emergency-room situation for another. and the testing on animals - even pregnant animals - is not so complete that we can extrapolate safety for them as meaning safety for us (nor, really, that they're safe for the pets...just that there wasn't anything so obvious that grief-stricken consumers would be rallying with pitchforks after market release). that drove me nuts last year.

garlic can have bad effects on cats, so please don't use that.

whatever you do, good luck!
posted by batmonkey at 8:14 PM on June 7, 2011

If you want to start with the most innocuous control, try dusting your kitty with diatomaceous earth. You can even apply it around the house. It's just a soft, sedimentary dust made from the skeletons of ancient sea creatures. It dehydrates soft-bodied insects and causes them to die. A 50-lb bag should set you back about $25.

Be sure to get the food-grade kind of DE, not the pool filter kind.
posted by Ostara at 8:34 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Couple of general notes: we used Revolutions (the drops I mentioned in the post) last summer. They're indoor cats - we're not sure how they got fleas beyond the possibility of critters having gotten in the house last year (mice) - or wildlife getting close enough to the house.

But some great stuff here and some great research. I'll also ask the Vet and the OB/GYN.
posted by Towelie at 8:42 PM on June 7, 2011

Vacuum daily. Thoroughly. Even on hard floors - particularly if they're hardwood floors. Once you've treated the cats, use the hose attachment on any piece of furniture the cats spend time on, and wash any bedding or other washables that they lay on. Even if you kill off all the living fleas, there are eggs and larvae that get left behind and very quickly you've got live fleas again. They'll get down in the cracks between floorboards and in carpeting. Vacuuming will get rid of both current and future fleas. But it may take a week of daily (twice daily, if possible) vacuuming to do the job. It's a lot of work, but there are no toxins involved and it has worked more than once for me in the past.

For me it helped to wait until the fleas were bad enough to send me into a rage. I cackled merrily as I sucked the evil things up into the vacuum. Made the work a lot less of a chore.
posted by Dojie at 10:25 PM on June 7, 2011

2nding diatomaceous earth if you found fleas in the house. It's a harmless dusty powder to all mammals; but for bugs -- its microscopic grains get into the joints of their exoskeleton and kill them quickly. I used it last year after finding a couple of fleas in our house: I found the d.e. in a farm supply shop. I sprinkled it all over the living room rug and brushed it in. Also sprinkled on the uphostered furniture. Left it there for a few hours in the rug & on the furniture, then I vaccuumed it all up. I even rubbed some itno the dog and the cats' fur, then brushed it out (outside on the deck). I never saw another flea after that. FWIW, I use Frontline monthly on the dog (because she goes outside & is in contact with other dogs at daycare & such), but the 3 cats are not on any flea preventive. No flea problems since that one time. I'd def. use diatomaceous earth again if I saw another flea indoors.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 9:39 AM on June 8, 2011

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