Most pet owners are familiar with fleas. Even your indoor cat can suffer from these menaces, which is why regularly checking your cat for infestation is important. Pests like fleas can cause irritated, itchy skin and make your once cheerful feline miserable.
Flea combs are an effective way to check your cat for fleas and make a big dent in an infestation if there is one. Kittens that are too young for flea treatments can also benefit from this tool.
There is a knack to using a flea comb, however. Used incorrectly, it can lead to a few frustrated swats from a clawed paw. This guide includes seven helpful tips to teach you how to properly use a flea comb on a cat.
The 7 Tips to Using a Flea Comb on a Cat
1. Introduce the Flea Comb Early
A flea comb, like every other tool in your cat’s grooming kit, should be introduced to your cat slowly. The earlier that you introduce it and get your cat used to the sensation of it running through their fur, the more accepting they’ll be of it.
Kittens, particularly if they’re younger than 12 weeks, are often too young for flea treatments. In this case, a flea comb is the safest option for them and will help you control their flea infestation.
2. Use a Regular Brush First
There’s nothing worse than using a fine-tooth comb on tangled hair. No matter how gentle you are, it’ll find every knotted mat without fail, especially if you have a long-haired cat breed. This makes it difficult for you to get the comb through your cat’s fur and can cause your cat pain in the process.
Although it’ll take you a little longer, it’s worth running a regular brush through your cat’s fur first. This will remove any tangled fur before you grab the flea comb, making it easier to get the finer teeth through their coat.
3. Comb Them on an Easy to Clean Surface
Fleas get everywhere, and to decrease the chance of them finding their way back onto your cat, it’s best if you use a flea comb outside in a room that doesn’t have carpeted floors or furniture where fleas can hide.
The bathroom is a good place to consider. If your cat doesn’t mind, you can even utilize the bath or the sink as a place to rinse the flea comb off between brushes.
Using a carpeted room might be unavoidable, though. In this case, use a protective plastic cover, and remember to vacuum and treat the carpet and furniture with flea spray once you’ve finished.
4. Work From Head to Tail
Properly using a flea comb isn’t just a case of following the fur or immediately going for the places where fleas like to hide. For the best results, you need to be methodical about the process.
By starting at your cat’s head — avoiding the face — and slowly working your way along their back, sides, legs, and tail, you’ll be steering fleas in a direction that they can’t escape. Following the direction of your cat’s fur is also a much more pleasant experience for your feline.
Pay close attention to your cat’s stomach, under its legs, chin, and the base of its tail. These areas are all places where fleas love to hide. A second comb-through a few minutes after the first go-over can help catch any fleas that you missed.
5. Be Gentle
Fleas are a menace, and your eagerness to remove them from your cat’s coat or a busy schedule can make you want to get it finished as soon as possible. This won’t be an enjoyable experience for your cat, though. You might even make their already irritated skin more uncomfortable.
Wait until you have plenty of time to spare to make the process as gentle as possible. Take your time, and be methodical about going over every inch of your cat. Not only will this make it easier for you to collect the majority of your cat’s fleas, but it’ll also be more enjoyable for your cat.
6. Rinse the Comb Often
Along with being great at collecting fleas, flea combs also collect loose fur, flea dirt, flea eggs, and other debris that might be in your cat’s coat. With every pass through your cat’s fur with the comb, check the bristles to make sure they’re clean before going back in.
It’s handy to have a bucket of warm, soapy water nearby. Use Dawn dish soap, which is pet friendly. If you find that your flea comb has collected fur, fleas, or dirt, quickly rinse it off in the bucket before returning to your cat’s fur.
The water will also make sure any live fleas that you collect won’t jump back onto your cat. You’ll want to properly wash the flea comb after you’ve finished too.
7. Comb Regularly
Fleas are wily creatures with a tendency to hide whenever something disturbs them. A single once-over is unlikely to completely rid your cat of an infestation, which is why it’s important to regularly go over your cat’s fur. Even if you use a flea treatment, you can help speed up the process — and make sure it’s working — by using a flea comb every so often.
This also works for kittens that are too young for flea treatments. The more times you go over their fur with a flea comb, the more likely that you’ll interrupt the flea life cycle and control their infestation.
What Is a Flea Comb?
Inexpensive and harmless, flea combs are fine-toothed combs. They are not only cheaper than many other flea treatments out there, but they’re also one of the best ways to tackle a flea-infested pet.
The fine teeth trap fleas when the comb is run through your cat’s fur, and they will also pick up flea eggs and dirt. Doing this will interrupt the flea life cycle.
A flea comb is also great for kittens because it’s a non-toxic method to rid them of fleas. While the process is more time consuming than using the usual flea treatments, it’s just as effective.
How to Choose a Flea Comb
Most flea combs are similar, and in a pinch, you can use the same one on your cat as you do on your dog. There are a few variations, though. Longhaired cats will benefit more from a flea comb with longer teeth. You might also find a small option specifically designed for cats, to make it easier to get into those hard-to-reach areas that fleas love to hide in.
Metal teeth are also more durable than plastic, but make sure the ends aren’t sharp. Fleas are notorious for irritating your cat’s skin, and you need to be careful not to make the problem worse. Some combs have rubber tips to make them gentler.
If you find that your flea comb has bent or broken teeth, it’s time to invest in a new one to prevent accidentally hurting your cat.
When Should You Use a Flea Comb?
Unlike chemical flea treatments, flea combs can be used as often as necessary. It’s a completely non-toxic method of managing a flea infestation. That said, you do have to dedicate more time to treating your cat for fleas if you use a flea comb.
It’s still a great tool to have in your grooming kit, though, and it can be used alongside flea treatments. Remember to brush your cat first to remove any tangles from its coat.
Using a flea comb is a time-consuming but effective way to tackle an infestation of fleas. When you combine it with flea treatments or use it once a day, you can collect and remove adult fleas, flea eggs, and flea dirt.
Following the tips and tricks in this article, you should be able to make the most of the tool and keep your cat’s fleas under control.
Featured Image Credit: Simone Hogan, Shutterstock