It’s National Hug Your Cat Day.  Give your furry feline friend some extra attention, and while hugging, look out for fleas. 

Spring and summer are favorite times of the year for fleas – those biting pests that are annoying to people and pets. The common flea in California is the cat flea. Despite its name, it attacks dogs, cats, and humans.  Whether or not you are aware of fleas in your home, protect your pets by regularly vacuuming and laundering areas where they rest. If you have a major flea problem indoors:

  • Locate heavily infested areas (usually areas where the pet rests) and concentrate treatment there.
  • Wash throw rugs and pet bedding.
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture, cleaning under cushions and in crevices.
  • Vacuum carpets, especially beneath furniture.
  • Over the next 2 weeks, vacuum regularly to remove adult fleas that emerge from pupae.
  • Seal vacuum bags and discard them so fleas don’t escape.

Here are some nontoxic ways that can help control fleas:

  • Use a fine-toothed flea comb daily to catch fleas. Keep a bowl of soapy water on hand and dip the comb into it after each sweep.
  • Diatomaceous earth, a powder composed of the fossilized remains of single-celled algae, can be sprinkled on carpets to eliminate fleas safely. Diatomaceous earth is harmless if ingested but should not be inhaled. When applying, remove animals from the area and wear a protective mask. Let the powder sit at least several hours before vacuuming. Look for diatomaceous earth at garden, animal supply, home improvement, and health-food stores.
  • Gentle herbal shampoos are effective and can be used as often as once a week, although too-frequent bathing can dry out animals’ skin.

Read on for more information on least toxic methods for control of fleas.

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