Friday, July 21, 2006

Green Cat, Flee Fleas: Integrated Pest Management

Getting rid of fleas naturally involves a number of steps. You must treat the animal, it’s environment, and you must attack fleas in all their stages. One note: just as your feline friends have been telling you for years, they are extraordinarily sensitive creatures. You can make more repellents for dogs than for cats. As I will say throughout this article sort of obsessively (I like cats): don't put essential oils on them.

KEY: EO equal Essential Oil. ACV: apple cider vinegar. DE: Diatomaceous Earth.


1) DOGS ONLY: Boil 2 cups of Rosemary Leaves in a quart of water for half an hour. Strain, reserving liquid. Add three more quarts of cool water, to make a gallon. Saturate the dog with this. Let the dog dry naturally.
2) DOGS ONLY: Wash dog with watered down dish detergent. In the final rinse, add a few drops of Tea Trea or Lavender EO.
3)DOGS AND CATS: Wash in mild detergent, not in flea shampoo, to kill fleas.

Combing: Check for fleas on a regular basis. They are black. Their eggs are white.

Diet: Just like a wolf picks off the sickly sheep in a herd, fleas pick on the sickly cats. Commercial cat foods don’t contain a strong balance of nutrients, and this weakens the animals’ immune systems. Feed your animal the best food you can afford to, to avoid fleas. Human grade food brands, like Old Mother Hubbard or Wellness are examples of these kinds of food. Some people even serve the animals food they cook themselves.


Garlic (FOR NO DOGS AND NO CATS): Some people suggest giving a clove of garlic to dogs daily will make fleas avoid them, which might be true, but many sites warn garlic can be toxic to dogs and cats: here, here, and here, for example.

Brewer's Yeast (DOGS AND CATS): Add a teaspoon a day to the animal’s food. If the animal develops a skin irritation, as some do, stop giving it the yeast.

Vitamin BI (DOGS AND CATS): Ask your vet how much.

Apple Cider Vinegar (DOGS AND CATS): Add a teaspoon to the animal’s water dish. The acidic smell grosses out fleas.

TOPICAL REPELLENTS: When making a topical repellents, remember to get behind the dog’s ears, around its head, at its rump, and in its armpits. Be careful of any sore spots, the dogs’ very sensitive nose and its eyes. Most of these can be used by humans, as well. BUT NOT CATS UNLESS IT SAYS SO. Also, products may also repel mosquitoes.

Citrus Repellent (DOGS and CATS):
Slice a lemon, pour three cups of boiling water over it, and let it sit overnight. Put the resulting mixture into a spray bottle, and spray it all over your DOG. Cover the lemon with boiling water and let it steep overnight. Next day you have a flea repellent that you can use in a spray bottle. Don’t saturate pet, just gently rub mixture into its fur.

Apple Cider Vinegar Repellent (DOGS and CATS): Spray a fifty-fifty water-vinegar solution on the dog or cat.

Lavender Repellent(DOGS ONLY): Add 10 dr Lavender EO and 5 dr. Cedarwood EO into one Tablespoon of Sweet Almond Oil. Twice a week, smear into the animal’s skin.

Flea Collar (DOGS ONLY): 1) Apply a few drops of Eucalyptus, Citronella, Geranium, Lavender, or Tea Tree EO to a bandana, rope, or collar on a weekly basis.

Another Herbal Repellent(DOGS ONLY):
2 drops of cedarwood, lemongrass, rose geranium EO, 1 teaspoon ACV, 1 teaspoon vodka, 1 cup of dried peppermint, eucalyptus, and/or bay leaf herbs, and 1 - 2 cups of water

Last Herbal Repellents (DOGS ONLY):
1) 2 and a half teaspoons of basil, bay leave, cedarwood, citronella, eucalyptus, juniper, lemon, lemongrass, myrrh, palmarosa, peppermint, pine, rose geranium, sage, sweet orange, tangerine, tea tree, EO – in any combination; 1 cup 190-proof grain alcohol (from the liquor store). Mix together in a jar, shake well. Test your skin to insure you aren’t allergic. Fine tune by adding any other scents, so you like the smell. Put it in a fine misting spray bottle, apply to clothes and skin.
2) Same as first recipe, but use distilled water instead of alcohol.
3) Same as first recipe, use 2 oz base oil (sweet almond, ie) instead of alcohol. Rub into dog’s fur.

Flea Powdered for the very Motivated (DOGS and CATS):
1 part food grade diatomaceous earth, 2 parts feverfew flowers, 2 parts mullein flowers, 2 parts yarrow flowers, leaves, and stems and 1 part sage or thyme. For the greatest potency, make only when needed. Grind the fresh ingredients in an electric coffee grinder or use a mortar and pestle. Sprinkle and brush into your pet's coat.

1) Vacuum all the cracks in your home, especially around the animals’ beds.
2) Vacuum with a bunch of food grade (not swimming pool grade) Diatomaceous Earth in the vacuum bag…it spreads around nicely.
3) Sprinke salt, borax (NOT CATS), or Diatomaceous Earth on carpets; leave over night; vacuum. Remember to empty the vacuum bag!
4) Mop frequently in flea season.
5) Get rid of area rugs during season;
6) Steam clean carpets/furniture as steam kills the fleas.

1) (DOGS AND CATS) Wash pet bedding regularly. Sprinkle rosemary or eucalyptus leaves in the bedding. No rosemary if the animal is pregnant.
2) (DOGS ONY) Add Eucalyptus EO to the final rinse.

Light Trick: (DOGS AND CATS)
1) Pour a small amount of Dawn dishwashing liquid or dog flea shampoo in a pie tin, add water to just below the rim and set it on the floor, near the pet’s bed, on a white (important that its white) towel or folded sheet. Use a desk lamp with a flexible neck and set it next to the tin and aim the light into the pan. Turn off the other lights in the room. For some reason this attracts fleas (and flies) and they jump into the liquid and drown. This is great when you can't spray or use chemicals in the house.
2) Buy a plug in light, with a sticky pad, that will also attract fleas.

Diatomaceous Earth: (DOGS AND CATS) Dry out the fleas larvae.
1) Sprinkle under furniture and into other nooks and crannies around your house will kill fleas and flea eggs by cutting into their waxy skin and dehydrating them. If you have carpet, rub it into the carpet with a broom, wait a couple days, then vacuum;
2) Put them in the vacuum cleaner’s bag and vacuum, spreading it around.
3) Powder the pet with it, but stop if your pet seems to react badly.

Boric acid or 20 Mule Team Borax: (DOGS ONLY) Also dries out larvae. Toxic to cats. Use as you would DE, but don’t rub on the pet.

Salt: Use as you would DE, but don’t rub it on the pet.

DE & Borax, 50/50 Mix: Sprinkle into carpets, rub with broom, vacuum later. Don’t let kids or pets crawl there until vacuumed, as the abrasive products may irritate them.


Diatomaceous Earth (DOGS and CATS): Cheap, inexpensive, made of ground up one-celled ocean organisms. Spread it on your yard, walkways, and garden beds. If it rains a lot, repeat every month. Less often if it isn’t a rainy climate. This works by drying up the larvae and fleas. Fleas can’t develop immunity. I know several Houstonians who swear by it. As noted above, you can also dust a room with it to eliminate a flea problem there. ***NOTE*** Theresa just wrote and said this kills beneficial bugs, as well. So target use of this project.

Nematodes (DOGS and CATS): These are microscopic worms that munch on flea larvae, and thus, they naturally control the flea population. Get them at the garden store, put them in moist, shady spots near your home. Don’t put them in the sun, they’ll die. They breed quickly, so you don’t need tons.
Garden: Grow Marygold or Fennel. I can’t think of why growing Eucalyptis or other smelly plants wouldn’t also help?
1) Keep grass short and rake the leaves.
2) Grow Marygold or Fennel. (I can’t think of why you wouldn’t grow any of the plants with strong smells, that you’d put in the pesticides?) 3) Flood areas dogs or cats congregate. Fleas drown.

DISCLAIMER: I have researched all this on the internet and culled info from many sources. Before using any of these products – or any products labeled “natural” or otherwise – on your animal, you may want to do research on your own to ensure the product will be a good match for your animal. I am not a veterinarian or a pet expert. Just a nosy internet savvy, green mamma.

CAUTIONS FOR CATS: Most Essential Oils can kill cats. Do not put any on your cat, no matter how diluted…they build up over time in the cat’s system. AVOID THE FOLLOWING FOR CATS AND DOGS: Rosemary for pregnant cats or dogs. Garlic. Flea powders containing pyrethrins or other poisons. Pennyroyal, rue, wormwood. Tea tree has bad effects in some pets.

All Purpose Bug Spray for Plants
2 tablespoons vinegar, 2 tablespoons canola oil, 2 tablespoons Murphy's oils soap, 3 tablespoons baking soda Add all ingredients to 2 gallons of warm water; combine in a handheld sprayer and mist-spray your plants until they are dripping wet. Best done in the early evening to avoid burning leaves.


Happy0303 said...

Hey, thanks for the info. I'm going to try the light and tin pan thing.

Fiddler said...

Thanks for great information... We have a CAT (named Little) who sends along her thanks too...

Kate said...

this is great. my dogs love nutritional yeast. when i am eating it, i sprinkle some on their food. they go crazy over the stuff.

Nell Liquorman said...

This is a very informative site and you can teach a lot of people ways to eliminate toxins in their life. Many people are doing their pets harm - even with some natural flea remedies. The odd thing added to a pet's diet may cause gastric distress. All flea products are toxic or else they would not kill fleas. I have kept my cats flea-free in Florida since 1992. My guide was available through Co-America for a few years. I have written for Animal Wellness Magazine, The Dog Press, and others. Your home and your pet can be flea-free and it is just not that hard. You can find my site by searching three words, keep fleas off
or email me at

My TIPS FOR A FLEA-FREE HOME can be printed out from my website for free. My article, GOT FLEAS?, is free to publish. I would be happy to send it or you can download from

I would be happpy to offer Green Parenting a review copy of my KEEP FLEAS OFF guide, if they would like to write about it or about me.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know if i should give my cat garlic or not.

MaGreen said...

No, don't give your cat garlic.

Anonymous said...

I must have misused a product called "First Aid in a Bottle". It contains tea tree and clove oil. The bottle said "Not responsible for misuse." That should have clued me in that use of the product could product ill effects. I applied some to my chihuahua before bedtime and awoke to a dog that couldn't muster the strength to stand and acted drugged. It took about 36 hours before she returned to normal. I hand fed and watered her, kept her warm and comfortable. I should have researched the product before using it. Hard lesson learned. I'll be very cautious about using any recipe that contains an EO. I apply Frontline Plus every 30 days but the fleas still jump on her and bite before they die. I'm desperate to repel the fleas. We take a daily walk through an area traveled by deer, so it would be hard to control the flea population she exposed to. I'll try the lemon or ACV mixes before anything else. I'm a little scared of even using the rosemary mix. Should that be reasonable safe?

Anonymous said...

My cat had a bad case of fleas. I was looking for a natural remedy, so I purchased a product by Ark Naturals, "Neem Protect Shampoo". This didn't seem to have much effect. I then tried another product by Ark Naturals, "Neem Protect Spray", with citronella. I sprayed a small bit on her stomach where the fleas were biting. The bottle indicated that this was safe for adult cats & dogs, puppied & kittens 6 weeks to older. Within a day my cat had lost her appetite, and within 3 days I had her at the vet - very lethargic, no appetite. The vet diagnosed annemia from flea bites. I put her on Advantage. Two days later she wasn't moving at all, howling intermittently, and convulsing on the floor, tongue hanging out, panting, howling. I thought she might die. Took her to the vet the next day - blood work turned out weird, no diagnosis of anything in particular. Vet tells me to put her to sleep - she's 15 and there's nothing he could do. Not an option for me, so I took her to an alternative vet. Diagnosis was still unclear, although indicated that citronella is toxic to cats. Got her some accupuncture, homeopathic detox and TCM rememdies. Within a week she was out of her cage, eating and on her way to full recovery. Just a heads up on citronella and the possibilities of toxicity to cats - contrary to what the product bottle indicates. Anyone else have similiar experience?

Linda said...

I just finished reading the following advice (in quotes) on this site about the cat's bedding:
"1) (DOGS AND CATS) Wash pet bedding regularly. Sprinkle rosemary or eucalyptus leaves in the bedding. No rosemary if the animal is pregnant. "
I don't understand that advice, because I have read over and over again on the ASPCA website, on studies published by vets, and in other places that eucalyptus contains phenols and that phenols are toxic to cats. Numerous sources warned that cats should never have the opportunity to ingest eucalyptus, nor should eucalyptus oil ever come into contact with their skin, that Phenols will cause liver damage.

Anonymous said...

What about the ears!!! I recently took my dog off all the antibiotics the vets gave me and milked my check book for that did no good for Pemphigus... I also changed her food to fish and chicken and raw hamberger. and lots of sweeet potatoes peas carrots and celery....Her pemphigus is almost gone EXCEPT for a caked up right ear full of gunk and pemphigus scabs..I need a HOLISTIC solutions for her ear.. A rinse as well as what to put in it so her right ear can heal. Appreciate the help

Kristy said...

Thank you for the information! Since moving to the country earlier this year-in to a house with CARPET, rather than the wood floors we had forever-we've developed a raging flea problem, where none existed before.

We've been trying a number of natural flea remedies that haven't helped much and once, out of desperation, did get Frontline from the vet (for a whopping $70!).

It didn't do a thing and I hated putting chemicals on them.

So I will be giving some of your suggestions a try in the next few days!

Thanks for sharing!

Meme said...

Friday, March 13, 2009 6:00 PM EST

WHAT ... Specifically: Can I WASH a CAT in? I do not understand what you mean by 'Detergent'?

Do you mean Liquid dish soap, or Laundry Detergent... (which is the only soap, I'm used to hearing the word 'Detergent' connected with), or what???

I can't imagine washing poor Meme, in 'Laundry Soap'!

Meme is 3 years old, and not pregnant or sick. BUT... she has a 'WHALE' of a problem with 'Dandruff' on her back. It starts at her tail, and goes 5 or 6 inches up her back.

She is 'ALL BLACK'... So it's really noticeable. She looks like someone took a salt shaker, and salted her back with it.

That's the only place she has it - and aside from that - she's a perfectly healthy Happy Cat.

She eats well - I feed her healthy food - and 'Spring Water' ... NOT Tap water - which gives dogs and cats 'CANCER'... because of the Chlorine.

I'm thinking about using, 1 Quart of 'Oatmeal Water' ... mixed with '2 to 4 Tablespoons' of Baking Soda, to bathe her back with.

Oatmeal is very soothing to the skin. And I have washed my own hair in nothing but warm water and Baking Soda - which cleaned very well, did not dry-out my scalp or hair... and even left my hair silky and shiny.

What do you think?
Please let me know soon. Meme needs relief!

A 'BIG' Mee-ow Thank You, from Meme, and Me... for saying 'NO BORAX' for Cats! Because I was thinking about that too... (Until I read Your Page!!!)

So... we will 'NOT' be doing that one. All Thanks to YOU!!!

Anonymous said...

I would like to know if neem oil is safe to use in cats.
I know tea trea essential oil is toxic for them, but what about neem?
I am planning on mixing some neem oil with water to spray on them before they leave the house during the day as a preventive.
Would that be an effective, non poisoning treatment?

Thanks and congrats for this great site!!!