Best Flea and Tick Prevention for Kittens

Jennifer Coates, DVM
Written by:
Published: June 9, 2022
Best Flea and Tick Prevention for Kittens

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There’s not much in this world that is cuter than a kitten. Unfortunately, parasites find them irresistible too. Kittens are at high risk for developing flea and tick infestations. Read on to learn how to protect your fuzzy little furball from fleas, ticks, and the health problems they cause.

Do Kittens Need Flea and Tick Treatment?

Flea and tick treatment is essential, even for kittens. Fleas and ticks are so much more than a nuisance. Yes, their bites can be itchy, but that’s just where the trouble starts.

Some cats develop an allergy to flea saliva. Just one or two bites can lead to intense itching over large parts of their body. The scratching, chewing, and licking that follow often lead to hair loss, skin lesions, and infections. Large numbers of fleas can also remove so much blood that kittens become anemic. In severe cases, flea-bite anemia can lead to death.

Fleas also transmit diseases. Cats often get tapeworms by ingesting fleas that harbor immature forms of these parasites. Cat scratch disease (infection with Bartonella henselae) and feline hemotrophic mycoplasmosisis (infection with Mycoplasma haemofelis) are rare but typically pass from cat to cat through fleas. Tapeworms, cat scratch disease, and other flea-associated diseases like murine typhus and plague can also be transmitted to people.

Ticks are even better at passing on diseases than fleas. Two of the most important tick-borne diseases that affect cats are hemobartonellosis and cytauxzoonosis. Less commonly, cats can contract tularemia, babesiosis, and Lyme disease through tick bites.

Kittens who have (or have had) access to the outdoors or who have lived in crowded environments like animal shelters are often infested with fleas or ticks, but indoor-only kittens are at risk too. If other animals in the home go outside, they can bring these parasites in on their bodies. Fleas and ticks may even catch a ride indoors on people and then hop aboard your kitten.

How Old Do Kittens Have to Be for Flea and Tick Treatment?

Most flea and tick treatments are designed to be given to cats and kittens who are 8 weeks of age or older. Many products have weight requirements as well. Always read the product packaging closely, and don’t use any flea or tick prevention in a manner that isn’t listed on the label unless directly told by your veterinarian. Cats, especially tiny kittens, can become sick if they are given the wrong type of treatment or a dose that is too high.

Which Flea and Tick Products Are Safe for Kittens?

Fortunately, there are many effective flea and tick treatments for kittens available on the market. Let’s look at some popular flea and tick treatments for kittens and see which are appropriate at what ages for kittens.

8 Weeks

For the youngest kittens, most products are of the topical, spot-on type. Always follow the directions printed on the label, but in general, you’ll want to part your kitten’s fur and squirt the entire contents of the small vial directly on the skin at the base of your kitten’s neck just above the shoulder blades. This location is ideal because it is hard for cats to reach and lick.

Here are some spot-on flea and tick medications that are safe for kittens who are at least 8 weeks old. All should be reapplied monthly.

Revolution

  • Active ingredient: selamectin

  • Minimum safe weight for kittens: Revolution doesn’t have a minimum safe weight, so the “up to 5 pounds” dose can be used if the kitten is 8 weeks of age or older.

  • Treats: Immature and adult fleas, ear mites, roundworms, and hookworms; also prevents heartworm disease

Revolution Plus

  • Active ingredients: selamectin and sarolaner

  • Minimum safe weight for kittens: 2.8 pounds

  • Treats: Immature and adult fleas, several species of ticks, ear mites, roundworms, and hookworms; also prevents heartworm disease

PetArmor

  • Active ingredient: fipronil

  • Minimum safe weight for kittens: 1.5 pounds

  • Treats: Adult fleas, chewing lice, and several species of ticks

PetArmor Plus

  • Active ingredients: fipronil and (s)-methoprene

  • Minimum safe weight for kittens: 1.5 pounds

  • Treats: Immature and adult fleas, chewing lice, and several species of ticks

Frontline Gold

  • Active ingredients: fipronil, (s)-methoprene, and pyriproxyfen

  • Minimum safe weight for kittens: 1.5 pounds

  • Treats: Immature and adult fleas, flea eggs, chewing lice, and several species of ticks

Catego

  • Active ingredients: fipronil, dinotefuran, and pyriproxyfen

  • Minimum safe weight for kittens: 1.5 pounds

  • Treats: Immature and adult fleas, flea eggs, chewing lice, and several species of ticks

Senergy

  • Active ingredient: selamectin

  • Minimum safe weight for kittens: Senergy doesn’t have a minimum safe weight for kittens, so the “up to 5 pounds” dose can be used as long as the kitten is 8 weeks of age or older.

  • Treats: Immature and adult fleas, ear mites, roundworms, and hookworms; also prevents heartworm disease

10 Weeks

All of the above products can continue to be used for flea and tick prevention in kittens as they get older, but other options start to become available as kittens age.

Some pet parents love the convenience of a flea and tick collar, but collars aren’t right for every kitten. Kittens can easily slip out of loose collars, and they may require frequent adjustment as kittens grow to ensure they don’t become too tight. Be sure to buy a collar that has a breakaway feature to protect cats from strangulation.

Seresto Collar

  • Active ingredients: flumethrin and imidacloprid

  • Minimum safe weight for kittens: Seresto Cat Collars don’t have a minimum safe weight for kittens, so they can be used if the kitten is 10 weeks of age or older.

  • Treats: Immature and adult fleas and multiple types of ticks.

  • Replacement: Seresto collars need to be replaced every 8 months to remain effective.

12 Weeks

An additional flea and tick collar for kittens is available at 12 weeks of age:

Hartz UltraGuard Collar

  • Active ingredient: tetrachlorvinphos

  • Minimum safe weight for kittens: Hartz UltraGuard collars don’t have a minimum safe weight for kittens, so they can be used if the kitten is 12 weeks of age or older.

  • Treats: Adult fleas and multiple types of ticks

  • Replacement: Hartz UltraGuard collars should be replaced every 7 months or possibly more frequently for severe flea and tick infestations.

6 Months

There are some spot-on flea and tick medications that you don’t have to apply monthly:

Bravecto Topical Solution

  • Active ingredient: fluralaner

  • Minimum safe weight for kittens: 2.6 pounds

  • Treats: Adult fleas and several species of ticks, and only needs to be applied every 12 weeks

What's Safe for Killing Fleas and Ticks on Kittens Younger Than 8 Weeks?

No flea and tick medications are approved for use in kittens under the age of 8 weeks. A veterinarian can recommend the off-label use of certain products under special circumstances, but never apply them on your own. Using the wrong medication or giving too high of a dose can be extremely dangerous.

But young kittens with fleas and ticks still need treatment! The best, all-natural home remedy for fleas on kittens under 8 weeks of age is a flea comb. Gently run the comb through your kitten’s fur to remove any adult fleas that are present. You’ll need to repeat this once or twice a day, because flea combs only remove adult fleas. Any new ones that emerge in your home will jump on your kitten as soon as they can. If you see any ticks, grasp them with a pair of tweezers where they are attached to the skin and pull them off.

Every few days, you can also give your kitten a bath in warm (not hot) water to rinse away fleas and flea dirt (poop). Adding a small amount of baby shampoo or Dawn dish soap to the water can help, but make sure to rinse the kitten well. Dry the kitten off thoroughly to prevent chills, and don’t use flea shampoos. They aren’t safe until a kitten is at least 12 weeks old.

Environmental control for fleas is important as well. Thoroughly vacuum your floors, carpets, and upholstered furniture. Wash and dry bedding at the hottest possible settings. Finally, treat any other animals in your home with an appropriate flea and tick medication so they can’t act as a reservoir for fleas that can re-infest your kitten and your home.

Final Thoughts

Of course, these aren’t the only methods for treating fleas and ticks on kittens. Other spot-on products, collars, shampoos, dips, sprays, wipes, and oral treatments are available and can be good options depending on a cat’s individual needs. A veterinarian who is familiar with a kitten’s age, weight, health, and environment is in the best position to recommend a good flea and tick medication.

Featured Image: iStock.com/SolStock


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