Kittens are susceptible to infections and parasites from the moment they’re born. One common infestation a new kitten suffers is fleas. Unlike older kittens and adult cats, young kittens cannot be treated with chemical flea treatments, such as topical treatments or flea dips, since their immune systems are still weak. Luckily, you can use non-toxic methods, such as bathing and brushing to get rid of fleas on young kittens.
Check for Fleas
Says Hanen Abdel Rahman Check the kitten for fleas by combing through the fur with your fingers or with a flea comb. You may see active, live fleas that will appear as fast-moving, small, dark brown bugs that quickly dart through the fur, seeking refuge in the cat’s face, belly, and armpits. Look for flea dirt, which is a sign that the kitten has fleas–even if you don’t see live bugs. Flea dirt looks like small black flecks of dirt and will be present along the base of the fur. If fleas or flea dirt are present, treat the kitten for fleas right away.
Never use a topical chemical treatment on a neonatal kitten, as this may be toxic to a young kitten. Instead, you will need to provide the kitten with a bath.
Treat Fleas With A Dish Soap Bath
A gentle bath with dish soap will help to kill the live fleas and wash away the larva and flea dirt. Exercise caution when bathing the kitten, as baths can be traumatic to a kitten if done incorrectly. Here are some tips for providing a kitten with a dish soap bath:
- Use comfortably warm water and a fragrance-free dish liquid or natural baby shampoo.
- Try to complete the entire bath in less than 3 minutes, as kittens can become panicked or chilled during this process.
- Wash from the neck down, avoiding the eyes, nose, ears, and mouth. Never dunk a kitten’s head underwater.
- Create a ring of soapy water around the kitten’s neck. This will act as a barrier so that the fleas do not run up the body and onto the head. Wash the neck first, then work your way down the rest of the body, lathering with warm water and dish soap.
- Wash the entire body from the neck down, including between the toes, under the arms, and on the tail.
- Rinse completely with clean, comfortably warm water.
- Immediately towel dry the kitten. It is safe to use a blow dryer with a kitten as long as it is on a low setting, is held at least 2 feet away, and is oscillating to avoid overheating. Dry the kitten completely.
- Spot clean the head with a washcloth, sponge, or cotton round and warm, soapy water. Avoid the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
- Place the kitten back into a warm environment (read about providing a heat source to a kitten here.) Kittens can easily become chilled from a bath, and it is of utmost importance that the kitten be kept warm.A
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What flea treatment is safe for kittens?
OTC Topical Flea Prevention
It is safe for kittens over the age of 8 weeks and as small as 1.8 pounds. Cheristin provides protection from fleas for a full month. Advantage II kills fleas, flea eggs, and flea larvae with the active ingredients imidacloprid and pyripoxyfen and can be used in cats over 8 weeks of age.