When to Start Flea and Tick Prevention for Kittens

Jennifer Grota, DVM
By Jennifer Grota, DVM on Jun. 9, 2022

A new kitten coming home is a very exciting time, but it’s important to keep your new pet healthy and happy. One way to preserve the kitten’s health is by preventing flea and tick bites.

Fleas and ticks are a nuisance due to itching, but they can also cause many health conditions and diseases in kittens. These health issues can spread to other pets in the home, and also spread to  humans. Flea and tick preventative products can stop these pests from biting your kitten and prevent them from developing flea-and tick-borne illnesses.

Does My Kitten Need to Be on Flea and Tick Preventatives?

There are many flea and tick preventative options available. And it’s important to use a flea and tick prevention product even if your kitten will never go outdoors, because human family members or dogs that do venture outdoors can bring fleas and ticks inside. That’s why it’s important to protect all animals in your household from fleas and ticks.

Conditions or diseases that can be caused by fleas and ticks include:

  • Flea allergy dermatitis: A cat can develop very itchy skin with crusty bumps and hair loss as a result of being infected with fleas. For some cats, a single flea bite can trigger a reaction.

  • Feline Bartonellosis: Also called cat scratch disease, this occurs when a cat is bitten by an infected flea. A cat may develop swollen glands, lethargy, or sore muscles if infected. Cats can spread the disease to humans with a scratch or bite, or by licking an open wound.

  • Tapeworms: If a kitten ingests a flea carrying a tapeworm while licking himself, he may develop this intestinal parasite.

  • Anemia: A cat heavily infested with fleas may develop anemia (low red blood cell count), because fleas feed on the cat’s blood.

  • Mycoplasma haemofelis: These parasitic bacteria can cause anemia in cats.

  • Bacterial infections: Flea-borne typhus, plague (caused by the Yersinia Pestis bacteria), and rickettsia.

Before Starting Flea and Tick Preventatives for Kittens

There are several considerations to keep in mind when selecting a flea and tick preventative for your kitten, including:

Age of Kitten

The appropriate age to start a flea and tick preventative varies from product to product. Most cannot be used before a kitten is at least 8 weeks old. If your kitten is younger, it’s important that all other animals in the household are already on an appropriate preventative, and that the kitten is kept indoors to minimize the chance of exposure to fleas and ticks.

Weight of Kitten

Most flea and tick preventatives have minimum weight requirements, typically at least 2 pounds.

Overall Health of Kitten

Before starting any new treatments for preventative products, have your kitten examined by your veterinarian to ensure that they are healthy enough to receive a flea and tick preventative. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you of your kitten’s accurate weight and age so the correct preventative can be administered. Most flea and tick products are only available by prescription, which requires a veterinarian appointment.

Safe Flea and Tick Products for Kittens

Your veterinarian can discuss known flea and tick issues specific to your region to help you decide if a topical (applied to your cat’s skin), oral, or collar type of prevention is best for your kitten.

Regardless of the type you choose, it’s important to verify that the product is made specifically for cats. Never use a flea and tick preventative designed for dogs on a kitten or cat, because they often contain ingredients that cats can’t metabolize. Even if a dog product has the same active ingredient as the cat version, the amount in the dog product is likely much higher and could pose a danger to cats.

The ingredients in flea and tick preventatives designed for cats have been proven safe and effective to use. Some of these ingredients are fipronil, fluralaner, lotilaner, and selamectin. Never use products that contain permethrins or pyrethrins, because these ingredients are toxic to cats.

Feline flea and tick preventative products to consider include:

These products are topical and found to be safe and effective for cats. They are also very easy to apply. Ask your veterinarian if one of these may be right for your kitten or if there is another product that may be more effective, based on the flea and tick population where you live.

Kitten Flea and Tick Prevention FAQs

Do kittens need flea and tick treatment, even if they are indoor cats?

Yes. Even indoor-only cats can be exposed to fleas and ticks, either by dogs that go outdoors or by human family members who unknowingly bring fleas and ticks indoors on their clothing.

What month should you start flea treatment for kittens?

Start a flea and tick preventative as soon as your kitten is old enough and weighs enough for your chosen product. Then continue to use a preventative year-round.

Featured Image: iStock.com/RyanJLane

Jennifer Grota, DVM


Jennifer Grota, DVM


Dr. Grota decided at an early age that she wanted to be a veterinarian. A native of Indiana, she grew up in a home where animals were...

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