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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best cat flea and tick preventions

    Last Updated October 2018

    Regardless of your cat's breed, age, or lifestyle, keeping her free of flea and ticks is an absolute necessity. Aside from completely ruining snuggle time, these bloodthirsty pests can cause some nasty health issues – not just for Fluffy but also for your human family. Thankfully, there are many safe and effective flea and tick treatments to choose from. But with so many options, it can be difficult to know where to start.

    If you could do with some help, you've come to the right place! Here at BestReviews we’re on a mission to simplify your shopping experience. By identifying the qualities that matter most, we help our readers find the best products for every need and budget.

    We’ve combed the market to find the best cat flea and tick prevention products currently available. To learn more about the best option for your feline friend, refer to our detailed guide below. In a hurry? Skip straight to our top five picks featured above for a quick selection.

    Always read the instructions carefully before using a flea and tick treatment. Even similar products of the same category can have different safety guidelines regarding age suitability, dosage, and correct usage.

    Types of cat flea and tick prevention

    When it comes to keeping fleas and ticks off your kitty, there is no shortage of treatments from which to choose. Picking the one that best suits your and your cat is key to keeping your furball and your family healthy and happy. Let's take a look at some of the most common forms of cat flea and tick prevention.

    Spot-on treatments

    These topical treatments are a popular option thanks to their easy-to-use convenience and long-lasting action. But you must make sure that spot-on treatments dry properly and are completely absorbed before handling your cat or allowing children to pet him.

    Pros:

    • These products are easy to use, generally applied directly onto the skin at the base of the cat’s neck and between the shoulder blades to minimize the possibility of accidental removal or ingestion through grooming.

    • The treatment starts working within hours. The active chemicals gradually disperse over the skin and remain in the sweat glands.

    • The chemicals eliminate fleas and ticks for up to a month.

    • Once dry, the efficacy is undiminished by washing, grooming, or rain.
       

    Cons:

    • Cats need to be kept away from children and other animals until the treatment is dry.

    • Kitties with sensitive skin may experience irritation, itching, or swelling.
       

    Price: Spot-on treatments typically range from $30 to $55 for a six-month supply, but smaller quantities are available, too.

    Oral flea and tick medications

    Oral tick and flea preventatives are a good alternative for cat owners who are concerned about children or family members coming into contact with topical treatments.

    Pros:

    • Most medications act within minutes.

    • Many offer the same benefits as spot-on treatments.

    • Vet-prescribed options provide long-lasting flea and tick protection.

    • There is no risk of the chemicals rubbing off on children or other pets.
       

    Cons:

    • Can be difficult to administer – convincing a finicky feline to take oral medication can be tricky.

    • Not all offer the same level of pest control as spot-on treatments.

    • Sensitive cats may vomit up pills, and sneaky kitties may spit them out without owners being aware.

    • Oral medications can cause stomach upset and discomfort in some cats.

    • Many OTC varieties only provide pest protection for a day or so.
       

    Price: Oral preventatives, which are available without prescription, can cost anywhere from $10 to $25 for six tablets.

    Flea and tick collars

    In terms of hassle-free convenience, flea and tick collars are hard to beat. These contain concentrated chemicals that are slowly and steadily released into the cat’s skin. If your kitty is already a host to unwelcome guests, be sure to choose a collar that's capable of killing existing parasites as well as keeping new ticks and fleas from taking up residence.

    Pros:

    • These are easier to use than any other tick and flea prevention method.

    • Collars offer long-lasting protection (many work for up to eight months).

    • Most collars are reasonably priced.
       

    Cons:

    • Cats who are unaccustomed to wearing collars may not accept this method.

    • The collar may cause skin irritation in some cats.

    • Some collars only repel ticks and fleas; they don’t kill any parasites already on the cat.

    • Collars typically aren't suitable for kittens under ten weeks old.
       

    Price: Collars cost from $20 to $60, depending on the size, ingredients, safety features, and the duration of parasite protection offered.

    Fuss-free convenience, long-lasting protection

    If you’re looking for a safe, easy-to-use, and long-lasting tick and flea treatment, the Bayer Seresto collar is your best bet. Recommended by veterinarians, this state-of-the-art collar keeps cats free of fleas and ticks for up to eight months. It also boasts safety features like a quick-release clasp to prevent choking and a reflective strip to ensure your cat is visible at night.

    Flea and tick sprays

    When it comes to getting rid of fleas and ticks, sprays can be just as effective as other methods. Unfortunately, most cats will instinctively try to bolt the moment you trigger the very first squirt, and if she's a fighter, keeping her eyes and nose safe can be extremely difficult. We don't recommend using a spray-on tick and flea preventative if you already use a spray bottle filled with water to discourage undesirable behavior like scratching furniture or jumping on counters because your cat will likely view this as punishment.

    Pros:

    • Sprays cover large areas quickly.

    • Most sprays work to kill ticks and fleas quickly.

    • Some sprays offer the same benefits as spot-on preventatives.
       

    Cons:

    • Cats are unlikely to enjoy being sprayed.

    • Spray treatments may require more frequent reapplication than some other methods.

    • Sprays can be messy.

    • It’s difficult to avoid contact with the cat’s nose and eyes when using a spray.

    • Spray products are likelier to be ingested through grooming and cause stomach upset.
       

    Price: Sprays used purely for prevention tend to be priced around $10, while those that provide more comprehensive protection can cost as much as $40.

    Flea and tick powders

    Flea and tick powders may seem relatively straightforward, but getting complete, even coverage is essential, and the chemicals are potentially harmful if ingested. Fortunately, more and more herbal-based flea and tick powders are entering the market. But while these may be a safer option, herbal powders may still cause gastrointestinal discomfort if swallowed. Consult a vet at the first sign of any adverse reactions, such as drooling, vomiting, or diarrhea.

    Pros:

    • Powders are inexpensive and readily available from most retail outlets.

    • These products may also be used on bedding or carpeted areas.

    • Powders are easy to use.
       

    Cons:

    • Powder needs to be reapplied weekly.

    • Powders pose a high risk of eye irritation.

    • You need to make sure that your kitty doesn't inhale or ingest the powder during application.

    • Powder can be difficult to apply properly. You must work it into nooks and crannies, such as under the legs and neck, because fleas and ticks often seek refuge in these hidden areas.

    • The chances of your kitty ingesting potentially harmful chemicals are high, and powders can cause stomach upset due to grooming.

    • Many powders aren't recommended for kittens under 12 weeks old.
       

    Price: Powders are generally inexpensive and seldom cost more than $10.

    Flea and tick shampoos

    If you've recently adopted a cat from a shelter or rescued a local stray, flea and tick shampoos are a great starting point. Not only will a pest-busting soak instantly get rid of ticks and fleas, but a good freshening up will also allow you to cuddle your new best friend with confidence. Keep in mind that although shampoo works as an instant solution, you'll need to follow it up with a more comprehensive preventative, such as a collar or spot-on treatment.

    Pros:

    • Shampoo treatments are relatively inexpensive.

    • These treatments work quickly.

    • Shampoo kills the ticks and fleas while freshening up your kitty at the same time.
       

    Cons:

    • Most cats don't enjoy being bathed and may struggle or scratch.

    • The majority of shampoos don't work as an holistic pest prevention solution, leaving cats vulnerable to reinfestation.

    • Shampoos are best used in conjunction with other flea and tick prevention methods.
       

    Price: Shampoos are usually priced from about $10 to $15.

    EXPERT TIP

    If you’re unsure of the safety of a particular flea and tick preventative, check the packaging for FDA or EPA approval.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Remember to wear protective gloves when applying any topical flea or tick treatment to your cat’s fur or skin.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    For severe infestations, consider a fast-acting oral medication followed by spot-on treatment or collar.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Cat flea and tick prevention factors to consider

    There are a great number of factors that might affect how well any given product works for your cat, so keep the following considerations in mind as you shop and you can increase your chances of finding a suitable option.

    • Age: If you're in search of pest prevention for a kitten, selecting an age-appropriate treatment is vital to his health. Flea and tick preventives for adult cats typically contain higher concentrations of chemicals that may be harmful or even fatal to kittens. Always check the packaging for age and weight guidelines.

    • Fur length: If you're considering using topical preventatives, such as spot-on treatments, sprays, or powders, consider the length of your cat's fur. While reaching the skin of short-haired cats is relatively easy, this may prove more difficult with long-haired kitties. For extra-fluffy furballs with thick coats, oral medications or collars may be a better option.

    • Duration of efficacy: To keep fleas and ticks at bay, it's essential that you follow up with additional treatments as specified by the manufacturer. When using shampoos, powders, or sprays, be sure to note how frequently the product should be used and stick to these guidelines as closely as possible.

    • Lifestyle: Your cat's lifestyle is an important consideration when selecting a tick and flea prevention product. Indoor cats may do well with simpler products like shampoos or powders. However, for lion-hearted felines who simply won't be restricted to indoor living, you'll need a more heavy-duty option. Spot-on treatments are a preferred choice for many owners of free-roaming kitties. Dual action collars can also do a great job of keeping your cat pest-free.

    • Price: There are many formulations and brands of tick and flea prevention products, and individual prices can range from the eyebrow-raisingly expensive to the suspiciously cheap. When in doubt, it's best to stick with reputable brands – and asking your vet for advice never hurts!

    Reliable, comprehensive tick and flea control

    This quick-acting spot-on treatment takes care of all your flea and tick worries by wiping out the entire flea life cycle, from egg to adult, and killing both mites and ticks. As far as spot-on treatments go, PetArmor Plus is one of the most reasonably priced options around, and according to users, its results match those of more expensive brands.

    Tips

    • If you’re unsure of the birth date or weight of an adopted kitten, a quick trip to the vet can help clear things up and determine the best way to keep your kitty free of fleas and ticks.

    • Long-lasting treatments such as spot-on prevention or a collar can help reduce the chances of missing a dose and unintentionally leaving your cat vulnerable to pests.

    • If you opt for a flea and tick collar and your cat happens to be a climber (as most are), choose one with a quick-release clasp to prevent accidental snagging and possible choking.

    Young kittens, older cats, and pregnant or lactating felines frequently require special care and consideration. If your cat needs urgent tick and flea treatment, we recommend seeking veterinary advice to determine the safest options.

    FAQ

    Q. Do indoor cats need a flea and tick prevention product?

    A. The answer to this question is a resounding “yes”! Even if your kitty is a sheltered princess who never sets a pampered paw outside, she’ll still need protection from ticks and fleas. These pests can easily be carried indoors by other pets, household pests like rats and mice, and even humans.

    Q. Is it really necessary to use flea and tick prevention year-round?

    A. Unfortunately, ticks and fleas are exceptionally hardy critters, and the eggs can lay dormant in nooks and crannies both inside and outside of the home, even in colder climates. To keep your cat healthy it’s best to ensure that he remains protected through all seasons.

    Q. Can I use dog and cat flea and tick medications interchangeably?

    A. Unless the packaging clearly specifies that your product is suitable for both cats and dogs, this isn’t recommended. Dosages can vary dramatically and in many cases, formulations intended for dogs – even smaller breeds – can be fatal to cats.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Bronwyn
      Bronwyn
      Editor
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Erica
      Erica
      Writer
    • Samantha
      Samantha
      Writer

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