DIY Flea Repellent: Deal or no deal?

August 20, 2009

Long about a year ago, the Small housecats ran with fleas. We went with Frontline, which cured the kitties, but probably wasn’t ecofabulous.

So, guess what: The little fuzzfaces are infested once again. While a bona fide flea killer can’t be brewed at home, flea repellent can be DIY’d from household ingredients, says Craftzine. Observe:

Could this help my catskys? Anyone out there ever test drive a similar recipe?

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10 Responses to “DIY Flea Repellent: Deal or no deal?”

  1. Laura said

    We’ve been spraying our two cats with a rosemary/lemon eucalyptus spray we got from our local pet store. We bathe them first, then spray them and continue to spray them every day or two or as often as we remember which is usually every few days…and I will say that they still have fleas, albeit far, far fewer!

  2. Carys said

    I see the article says that essential oils can be “too strong” — actually many essential oils are highly toxic to cats (despite many manufactures of “safe” flea products using them. Cats have a different sort of detox system than humans, and can’t break down many compounds, including phenols (in Oregano, Thyme, Eucalyptus, Clove, Cinnamon, Bay Leaf, Parsley, and Savory) and ketones (in Cedar Leaf, Sage, Hyssop, Cyprus, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Mint ,Caraway, Citronella ,Clove, Ginger, Chamomile, Thyme, and Rosemary).

    As long as you use fresh ingredients, it’s not a worry, but do avoid essential oils around cats (much less on them), especially the ones listed above.

  3. Dr.Dave said

    I am a vet. No, really, I am. A vet with a BAD tiny house fetish who has to throw in his 2 cents here. I’ve seen a ton of natural flea remedies over the years, from lavender flea collars to enteric coated garlic to diatomaceous earth. I’m also old enough to remember the older “flea control” products we used to have, essentially sprinkle on your pet pesticides. They don’t work. You need to understand that in any environment 95% of the flea burden is OFF the cat. Larvae and pupae infest carpets, couches, shaded leaf covered areas of your yard, etc, its only the adults that jump on your pet (or you, depending on how hungry they are) for a blood meal or a hundred before they jump off to lay eggs and die. BTW, fleas rarely jump from animal to animal, unless one of them is dying. When they get on an animal its sort of like moving to Portland, they really don’t want or have any reason to leave. They only jump off your pet to lay eggs.

    You are probably right in saying Frontline, Advantage, Revolution are hardly “eco friendly”. Frontline (or the fumes when I apply it) makes my cats salivate and act weird for about an hour afterwards. These meds are absorbed into your pets bloodstream and travel to every hair follicle in the body and primarily work by paralyzing the parasite. They do this by opening chlorine or sodium gated channels in the fleas very primitive nervous system. Flea can’t function, flea dies. Some also contain insect growth inhibitors which prevent maturation of the larval to pupae forms, or prevent the pupae from being able to pop out of its little egg like coccoon that’s sitting in your carpets and waiting for a cat to walk by.

    I routinely see animals, mostly kittens or puppies, that are almost sucked dry of blood by fleas. I routinely spay feral cats who do not have a single square milimeter of skin that does not have a flea bite or flea bite scar on them. I see animals who are allergic to flea salivia this time of year on a daily basis biting and scratching themselves until they have no hair on their backs and raging skin infections. Frontline, Revolution (so named because when it hit the market it was a Revolution) and Advantage have completely changed the game, and so far fleas do not have any “resistance” to them, unlike the older flea products that are based on pyrethrin pesticides. These are still sold over the counter, and routinely I see patients who are covered in fleas after their owner has applied topspot or some other OTC product. You can have “failures” of the newer products, but its usually due to the owner not treating EVERY animal in the house, or having a severe infestation either indoors or out. You can also apply those products up to every two weeks in the face of a severe flea outbreak, and buy them OTC in some pet stores, though the price is often the same or more than buying them from a DVM like me.

    Also, if your cat has fleas they also often have tapeworms. The flea larvae eat the tapeworm eggs in the carpet and that’s how the tapeworm gets into your pet. Parasites like these have been around for 600 million years and are spectacularly ingenious at completing their life cycles. I could go on for hours.
    Sorry for the lecture, I give the flea talk almost daily in my job and it gets old. But typing it was strangely satisfying.

    • Thanks for the talk, Dr. Dave. I appreciate your honesty, and the time you took to set this down here at Living Small! We haven’t found success with anything but Frontline, so we’re going to stick with it should the kitties get fleas again (I hope not). Thanks again!

  4. Katie Davis said

    Thanks Dr Dave,
    Great information. I am a frontline + devotee but only use it about every 3 months on my animals…cats and dogs. My cats are allowed out on our screened lanai only,never running free where they can get into serious trouble) Anyway, every 3 months does the trick..Never any fleas. I am not sure if it is because we also have our lawn and house treated for pests but it is very effective for me at that rate.
    I have also used it for my feral cat colonies…at least the ones that get friendly enough to come near for food. What a blessing. Glad you are doing the spay/neuter program for these guys. They are probably bottom rung on the totem pole as far as human assistance goes.
    Best,
    Kate

  5. kim mello said

    ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!! I have tried everything on the market and nothing works but frontline. Although this is the 1st summer we had an outbreak and i still saw fleas on cat and around the house. i have fogged whole house 2x ,sprayed crevices and used frontline and i killed 1 on my kitchen table and 2 more on my damn BED!!!!! I hate bugs so badly that I have left my home for days at a time. please help what do i do now?

    • Burn the house.

      If homelessness is a problem, don’t worry. The State will be more than happy to house you for several years. In the interest of keeping you from future infestations your access to loved ones is severely restricted and the lifestyle is very regimented. But hey, it’s free housing, right?

      I am only at this point in my writing looking at the date of your post, so you may have already found a solution.

      Things that I have found to be at least palliative in the house are:

      1. Eating citrus. This is insects’ nerve gas. You may experience fewer bites.
      2. Burning diluted essential oils of citrus fruit and citronella.
      3. The arduous task of spraying, vacuuming, fogging, vacuuming, spraying, vacuuming, fogging, vacuuming.
      4. (For the cats) Using meds (OTC or prescribed) containing fipronil.
      5. Using insecticides containing or to which you have added IGR (insect growth regulator).
      6. Using the ORIGINAL Mr. Sticky (get it from the manufacturer’s site, not a reseller). This seems to be very effective, especially since to revive it between cycles you dip it in warm soapy water. I do this in place of the vacuuming. When vacuuming you have to get rid of the bag immediately, because eggs will hatch, larvae will become pupae, pupae will become adults and… isn’t this where we started?
      7. Keep searching and trying. Who knows? You could very well be the next great infomillionaire because of your truly effective flea repellent sold for $19.95, AND WAIT! IF YOU CALL NOW… . As I type I have just eaten an orange and begun rubbing the rind into my hands and arms in the midst of an infestation by transfer from my daughter’s home. At least this is the most logical source of the degree of infestation. She has a dog which I think she got directly from previous owners who had to find a new home after moving from Florida. The dog is walked at least once a day. He has no collar. My granddaughter came to live with us for part of the summer. She brought three suitcases of clothes. Our cats are inside 99.5% of the time. One likes to venture out sometimes when we open the door. However, she is trained to return on command, which she does promptly. Is min an illogical theory?

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