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Caring for the Home Environment
Adult fleas will lay eggs in your cat’s bedding, deep in the carpet, and almost everyplace your cat frequents, so you won’t be able to get rid of the entire population of fleas by simply combing and washing your cat. You will need to be sure to also clean and treat the household and yard when fighting fleas.
Fortunately, vacuuming is very effective for dealing with cat fleas. You will need to be very diligent in vacuuming and cleaning the inside and outside of your home when dealing with fleas, and you will need to do it frequently in order for it make a real difference. You may wish to initially have your carpets professionally cleaned to help remove some of the deposited eggs and larvae, but this will not eliminate the problem entirely. You will need to vacuum all of the surfaces of your house every few days (disposing of the vacuum bag at least weekly) and wash all of your cat’s bedding almost as often.
Salt may be sprinkled into the carpet to work as a desiccant (drying agent) to kill flea eggs and larvae deep in the fibers of the carpet. However, salt would not be a good solution for those who live in areas of the country with higher humidity levels (such as Florida), as it can absorb water and result in mildewed carpet.
The outside yard will also need to be kept free of debris (piles of leaves, etc.) to help reduce places for fleas to congregate. Planting certain herbs and plants in the yard may help direct fleas away from your property. Lavender, eucalyptus, fennel, marigold, and citrus, all known flea repellants, can make your yard less interesting to these pests.
Diatomaceous earth can be used to treat the yard without chemicals. You will want to look for a natural or food-grade diatomaceous earth for use around humans and pets. This material is made from a ground-up stone (made up of tiny fossils) that is similar to a pumice powder, which acts as an abrasive and drying agent, much like boric acid does. And like boric acid, it is also in a dust form that can be spread in the yard and even on carpeting. Keep in mind that you may need to reapply it after a particularly heavy rain as it can be washed away.
It is always best to err on the side of caution when using something on or around your home, your family, and your precious pets. Be sure to get the advice of your veterinarian before using any products to control fleas, even those touted as "natural."
Image: Mac Armstrong / via Flickr
The area between the abdomen and thighs; the inguinal area