Staying Flea-Free, Cats And Home
July 26, 2012 6:23 PM   Subscribe

What is the best strategy to keep my cats and apartment flea-free?

I live in a stacked duplex connected through a stairwell and a shared laundry room. There is very little cross traffic between the apartments, indoor or out. My downstairs neighbor has three indoor cats, and the apartment (which in the nearly 10 years we've lived here before he moved in has not had this problem) has become infested with fleas. I have two cats who are mostly indoor but who go outside on leads. One of my cats likes to be in the backyard, which is the downstairs apartment's front yard.

I'm worried that fleas may make it into my life instead of just being downstairs.

This is a multi-pronged question.

1) What is the best strategy for protecting my cats against picking up fleas? Collars? Drops (like Advantage or other such)? Any brand recommendations?

2) Do I need to worry about the fleas finding their way up to my apartment without a carrier animal?

3) Do I need to get the yard sprayed? Will the 4-times-a-season spraying which the exterminator does outside to fend off malicious pests also kill the fleas, or does something special need to be applied?

4) What is the best method to rid the downstairs apartment of fleas? The guy living there has tried some kind of carpet powder, twice now, but it doesn't seem to be effective.

I'd appreciate any guidance which will help keep my dwelling and pets flea-free, and help get the entire building free of these new-to-the-property pests.
posted by hippybear to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1. Advantage

2. No.

3. No.

4. Flea bomb. These are very, very toxic so everyone needs to evacuate and also cover anything that could end up in a mouth.

But really, really recommend as well that you talk to your vet. They are all over this issue.
posted by bearwife at 6:30 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am a big fan of drops - Advantage and Frontline. We used it on our dogs for years and didn't see a single flea that entire time. Started using it on the cats the first time I spotted a flea on one of their noses and haven't seen one since, and our cats go outside on a regular basis. We don't treat the yard or anything inside at all. Nary a flea, and I live in the mid-South, where it's plenty hot and we've a long flea season. You can buy them OTC at the local pet megastores now.

There are also lots of other roaming pets and animals in the area. I have bees and will not spray any sort of insecticide in the yard, but we haven't had to even consider it.

When I have had to treat carpets and whatnot (in the time before Frontline and Advantage), I used Enforcer indoor spray. It came in a big gallon jug from Home Depot. We had a heavy infestation one time. Dampened the carpets and all the furniture with the stuff and left the apt for an hour or so. Came back and everything was dry. No fleas after that. Nowadays, I'd probably try borax in the carpet.

If you can break the lifecycle - all the adults now, and everything that hatches from the eggs in X days - and keep them off the cats with the topical drops, I bet you'll be pretty much home free, even if you don't treat the yard. Best of luck. Fleas are little bastards.
posted by jquinby at 6:31 PM on July 26, 2012

Advantage. Frontline does diddly squat.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:35 PM on July 26, 2012

bearwife has really nailed it for you. Don't use collars, they can be quite toxic.
posted by deborah at 6:41 PM on July 26, 2012

Frontline is all that I've ever seen work, whereas Advantage has been crap. YMMV?
posted by ellF at 6:56 PM on July 26, 2012

Advantage or frontline depends on the animal, says my vet. We use advantage and buy multi-dose boxes of the fat cat serving. The Big One gets his own tube and the other two split a tube. We don't do anything else, and we live in Florida aka Flea Paradise.
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:27 PM on July 26, 2012

Also vacuum with a flea collar inside the bag/ canister
posted by asockpuppet at 7:28 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I use Revolution on my cats. Switched from Frontline as it seemed more irritating, that is, it would send kitties into freakout mode. They tolerate Revolution well, and I've never had a flea in the house. Indoor-outdoor critters. (Flea collars are shit.)

The trick here is to convince your neighbor to start a flea regimen on his cats as well.

Treating the yard is pointless in your case anyway. If your cats on leads haven't had a flea problem in the first place, the yard isn't the problem. Your neighbor brought an infested animal into the home.

Flea-bomb the apartment, treat all the cats, you'll be fine.
posted by wallabear at 8:15 PM on July 26, 2012

I live in what has to be the flea capital of the US (Houston, Texas), and the only thing that works reliably for me is Revolution. And I've tried pretty much all the others.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:39 PM on July 26, 2012

We use Program. As for the sprays outside; I’ve found that poisons seem to barely work, if at all, and less harmful things like Diatomaceous Earth and Nematodes work way better. And they’re not poison. Inside we’ve used the Borax and Salt treatment in the carpet in past years. We may try Diatomaceous Earth inside this year.
posted by bongo_x at 9:18 PM on July 26, 2012

Our vet recommends Vectra for flea treatment. We've used it on our kitties and we've never seen a flea. (we have indoor kitties, but still). The cats HATE it, but it smells like cedar so that's a plus. We pay $75 for 3 monthly doses.

We also have Terminix come by quarterly to spray for pests.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:01 AM on July 27, 2012

I've recently gone through this as my dog just got fleas for the first time in 10 years. Definitely talk to your vet -- different areas get immune to certain treatments. Frontline Plus worked for 7 years in Eastern PA -- did nothing in Central Texas. We just did Vectra this month (which is more expensive) and literally fleas disappeared. Also recommend a flea comb. We were able to get live fleas and eggs off my pup.

Good luck.
posted by hrj at 7:14 AM on July 27, 2012

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