5 Best Flea & Tick Preventatives & Treatments for Cats · The Wildest

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Flea and Tick Preventatives and Treatments For Cats

From collars to topicals to chews, here are the flea and tick preventatives we’re giving our cats this summer

by Avery Felman | expert review by Dr John Iovino, DVM
31 October 2023
A white cat in a meadow with flowers and tall grass.
Laura Stolfi / Stocksy

Whether you’re a seasoned pet parent or an animal novice, there’s a solid chance you’ve thought through the possible inconveniences that pet parenthood could cause – a huge one being the spread, removal and prevention of fleas and ticks. While most indoor cats tend to be safe from these nuisances (provided that they live in a single pet household or all fellow cat residents are indoor), there’s a huge margin of error when it comes to calculating which pets require preventatives and how often to give them in order to ward off these pests.

That’s why we’ve taken it up with the experts to break down what kinds of flea and tick preventatives you should be using, how often and where to get them. Below, vet and The Wildest Collective member Dr John Iovino, and Veterinary Genetics and Technology Manager at Wisdom Panel Dr Annette Louviere, give us the inside scoop on the longevity and safety of the best flea and tick preventatives to use this summer (and year round).

Why giving your cat flea and tick preventatives is important

While chasing your cat around to apply a topical flea treatment to the tiny patch of skin on their back that their tongue can’t access isn’t anyone’s favourite pastime, it’s essential for your cat’s health. Though you’ll only need to carefully weigh your options for preventatives if you have an outdoor cat, foster rescues, or have a dog, many cat parents may not be aware of the risk they’re running by not preemptively giving their cat flea and tick medication – it just might be the thing that prevents hefty exterminator and vet bills.

As Dr Iovino puts it, “I think of a flea as a roach or an ant or anything that would infest your house. They just jump on these animals to feed and then they’re right back off again, so the way that the products work is that they can run as a treatment.” So, if you don’t want to give any members of your household who were sceptical about pet parenthood the opportunity to gripe, it’s best to get ahead of the curve.

Furthermore, starting your cat on a flea and tick preventative can help rule out other health issues and allergies. “I think it’s just really nice to know that if your pet is scratching and you’re on a flea and tick product, at least you know it might not be from fleas,” says Dr Iovino. “That’s helpful to further investigate other issues by knocking fleas off the table.” Not only is it frustrating to have a household infestation, but it can also be detrimental to your cat’s health. For example, heartworm can be transmitted to cats through mosquitos. Many cats and dogs are allergic to fleas, so they can develop serious skin irritation. Plus, fleas carry diseases that are harmful for both cats and dogs. Especially during the summer, it’s important to protect your pet from diseases these pests can carry.

Why the right flea and tick preventative is essential

When it comes to flea and tick preventatives, one size does not fit all. In fact, all those products with cute labels of dogs and cats living together in harmony are not indicators that the product can be used on both cats and dogs. Dr Iovino clarifies: “It’s really important with cats to use what’s for cats, because there are some dog products that will definitely mess a cat up. You want to check your over-the-counter labels, check the directions, and check the age at which they can be used before applying the products.” Some common ingredients that are included in flea and tick prophylactics for dogs, like permethrin and organophosphates, are highly toxic to cats, as they cannot metabolise these ingredients, and should be avoided at all costs.

The best types of flea and tick preventatives

Though lifestyle, allergies and personal preferences may dictate which preventatives cat parents opt for, we’ve asked the experts what a good jumping off point is. While Dr Iovino encourages a trip to the vet to rule out any allergies, “especially if you can just get an exam done”, rest assured that something you buy over the counter can easily do the trick. “The over-the-counter products have stood the test of time at this point, so the likelihood of everything going fine is really really high.” The best place to start? Dr Iovino advises: “The approach should be are you able to get to a vet? And then, are you looking for a collar versus a topical?”

Once you’ve answered these questions for yourself, you can begin to parse through the options available to you. Another thing to keep in mind: according to Dr Iovino, though there are some “superior cat products available by prescription right now”, many prescription products “convert to over-the-counter products later”. This means there are plenty of equally excellent options on the market.

Best flea and tick preventatives

Btw, our editors (and their pets) picked out these products. They’re always in stock at the time we publish, but there’s a chance they’ll sell out. If you do buy through our links, we may earn a commission. (We’ve got a lot of toys to buy over here, you know?)

Best all inclusive

revolution plus flea and tick prod

Dr Louviere deems this Revolution Plus topical treatment her ​​top recommendation for clients due to its “great spectrum of parasite control: flea, tick, ear mites, certain intestinal parasites and heartworms”. Topicals are notoriously better received by finicky cats than a chewable tablet or pill, so vets agree that it’s a great place to start when it comes to preventatives. However, Dr Iovino does have one call out: “The only issue with topicals in cats is that they’re really good groomers and they’re pretty flexible. A lot of those topicals are going to have a label that says apply directly to the shoulder blades, and I find some cats can lick their shoulder blades. So with cats, just keep in mind that you can apply that more towards the back of the neck – they can’t really lick the back of their heads.”

Best flea specific

the advantage flea treatment

Most cats will have no issue adjusting to a full spectrum flea and tick product, but those with sensitive skin or allergies may require speciality products. If you don’t live in an area where ticks are an issue, your cat lives indoors, or your cat tends to react to new products, this flea-specific treatment comes highly recommended. “There’s a ton of products on the market available to try besides that one that may cause an issue, especially if you’re in a really horrible flea area,” says Dr Iovino. While it may be tempting to forgo any treatment at all if your cat is likely to suffer an allergic reaction to new ingredients, Dr Iovino cautions against that option. “I think it’s worth the chance of finding a second product rather than running the risk of not doing anything and having fleas crawling everywhere.”

Best for household prevention

wondercide spray in white

Unless you live in a high-risk area for fleas and ticks or have an outdoor cat, a natural product may be the way to go. Wondercide’s lemongrass-scented flea, tick and mosquito spray is the ideal natural alternative to treat and prevent pests for cats, dogs and in the home. Give your cat a spritz before they head on their merry way to nibble on your hydrangeas or use it as a quick fix for a pet suffering from fleas. However, if you have an adventure cat, foster pets or a dog that you take walking through tick-infested woods before they plop down on the bed that both humans and animals sleep in, it’s best to use the heavy duty stuff.

Best for flea-prone areas

the bravecto container

Bravecto provides eight weeks of protection against Lone Star ticks, which are most commonly found in grassy and wooded areas of the UK. When it comes to types of treatments, Dr Iovino says ”It’s important to know what the product’s actually doing because some of the products over the counter might only work for a day”. Though they’re a bit more costly, it’ll pay off financially and in terms of your time and aggravation to opt for a longer term preventative when dosing your cat. “Try to look for a preventative product that’s going to last a month or two and you don’t have to re-dose it, rather than just doing these one time flea shampoo dips.” It’s Bravecto’s time to shine.

Best Collar

cat collar in round container

If there’s a cult favourite of flea/tick products, it’s the Seresto collar. Some products just work and gain reputations for being highly effective, and Seresto has done exactly that. “The Seresto collar is not like those powdery kinds. Seresto is very new age; they’re very sleek, they look great and they’re safe,” says Dr Iovino. Plus, you only have to apply it once every eight months, which is a huge win for both cat and human kind. “I think sometimes people get tripped up with Seresto being a little bit more expensive, but it lasts eight months, so you’re paying for eight months worth of protection.” However, in recent years there have been reports of people selling counterfeit Seresto flea collars on Amazon, which Dr Iovino cautions about.

Avery, editor at The Wildest, and her cat, Chicken

Avery Felman

Avery is a writer and producer. She has written for numerous publications, including Refinery29, BuzzFeed, and V Magazine. When she’s not at her computer, you can find her reading, practicing her Greek on Duolingo, and delving into the Sex and the City discourse. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and their cat, Chicken, who rules with an iron fist.

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