How To Use a Flea Comb on Cats

Amanda Simonson, DVM
By Amanda Simonson, DVM on Jul. 6, 2022
white cat getting brushed with a comb

Fleas are pesky blood-sucking parasites that cause frustration for cats and pet parents alike. It’s important to regularly check your cat for fleas they may have picked up from another pet or from the outside. There are a few things to know when it comes to selecting the right flea comb and knowing exactly how to use it safely on your cat.

What Is a Flea Comb?

A flea comb is a grooming tool that fits in your hand and has small plastic or metal teeth spaced closely together. A flea comb removes fleas from you cat by trapping adult fleas, flea eggs, and flea dirt between its teeth.

It’s important to comb your cat for fleas in a place that can be cleaned and disinfected after you finish combing. If you don’t kill the fleas that fall in the environment, they may continue their life cycle. You will want to drown any adult fleas you remove with the flea comb in warm, soapy water. After using the flea comb, wash it in warm soapy water to remove any flea eggs trapped in the comb. Also, spray the environment where you were working with Adams Flea and Tick Home Spray or a similar product. 

How To Pick the Best Flea Comb

Most flea combs made for dogs and cats are similar, but make sure you choose the one that is right for your cat. If your cat has long hair, choose a comb with long teeth. Cat flea combs may be smaller and easier to handle in tight areas such as the armpits or groin.

Combs with metal teeth tend to be sturdier than those with plastic ones. The metal teeth variety may have a rubber coating on the tips for your cat’s comfort. Some flea combs have a single row or double rows of teeth for more precise flea removal.

Cats usually prefer a comb that feels good on their sensitive flea-infested skin. They may try to bite, scratch, or escape if the flea comb you are using is uncomfortable.

Flea Combs for Kittens

If you’re looking for a flea comb specific to a kitten, it’s important to remember these little ones can be less than two pounds, more sensitive, and wiggly. A flea comb is safer and more effective than a chemical product to rid them of fleas.

Your veterinarian may recommend regularly combing (once or twice daily) your flea-infested kitten for several weeks. As you comb, do it steadily, and be gentle with their delicate skin. Make sure to also comb all the little, tough-to-reach areas where fleas like to hide—such as between toes and in the armpits and groin.

Combing removes and kills many adult fleas. You must comb often to prevent a new flea infestation and preventing existing eggs from developing into new adult fleas. Be sure to partner with your veterinarian to determine the best treatment plan for a kitten with fleas.

When To Use a Flea Comb

Before using a flea comb, brush your cat with a regular brush to remove any matted fur. This will stop the fur from getting tangled in the closely spaced teeth of the flea comb and hurting your cat.

Some cats enjoy being combed, but others may try to bite, scratch, or escape if they are uncomfortable or are in pain. You may want to pair treats with the experience to help your cat become more comfortable with the process.

What To Do if You Find Fleas on Your Cat

If you find fleas on your cat, consult your veterinarian for next steps.  

Flea combs may be an important part of your vet’s treatment plan, along with medications. Remember that you need to use flea combs regularly (often daily) to be effective in the treatment and removal of fleas completely.  

Your veterinarian will also recommend other methods to treat all stages of a flea’s life cycle, all pets in the home, the home’s environment, and yard. In addition to treating your cat for fleas with the right medication and grooming, make sure all bedding is thoroughly washed, along with any clothing or materials that may have come into contact with the infected cat. If there are other pets in the home, be sure they are up to date on their flea preventatives and check them immediately for fleas. 

Prevention of Fleas on Cats

There are several products that prevent fleas from living on your cat. Typically, these products are used once a month, or as directed. Regular use of flea preventive medication is important to help prevent or minimize a flea infestation. Keep in mind fleas carry diseases that affect both humans and pets.

It’s a good idea to routinely use a flea comb when grooming your cat to consistently check their fur for fleas or ticks. Typically, a pet parent will first notice a flea or flea dirt on their cat’s fur first before realizing there is a flea infestation to treat and manage.

How To Use a Flea Comb on Cats FAQs

Are flea combs effective on cats?

Flea combs can be an effective tool to remove adult fleas and their eggs from your cat. They are a cost-effective option but can be a time-consuming grooming tool.

Where do you put fleas after combing?

It is best to have a dish of warm soapy water nearby and dip the flea comb after a few strokes in order to drown the adult fleas trapped in the comb. If you are combing your cat in the bathtub, you may want to dip the flea comb in the water and wash the dying fleas down the drain.

Can you see fleas on a flea comb?

You can usually see adult fleas when they become trapped in the teeth of a flea comb. They are small wingless pests that can jump very fast.


  1. American Veterinary Medical Association. Safe Use of Flea and Tick Preventive Products.

  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Common Fleas of the United States. August 2020.

Featured Image:


Amanda Simonson, DVM


Amanda Simonson, DVM


I am a veterinarian passionate about helping animals. I practiced for 15 years in the hospital setting doing medicine, surgery, preventive...

Help us make PetMD better

Was this article helpful?

Get Instant Vet Help Via Chat or Video. Connect with a Vet. Chewy Health