Animal shelters and rescue type facilities have the responsibility of ensuring that each animal is properly taken care of and receives proper medical care in a timely manner. Not doing so would be inhumane and immoral. One of the most overlooked protocols in my experience has been flea prevention because of the cost of traditional flea prevention options such as Frontline.
Flea bites can lead to anemia and flea borne diseases which can cause stress related diseases like feline rhinotracheitis. One common flea borne disease is Mycoplasma haemofelis which can be deadly once contracted because it just snowballs from the initial signs to life threatening symptoms. An enlarged spleen, fever spike and a long period of not wanting to eat is common.
I am here today to talk a bit about the flea prevention plan that Cuddle Cat Rescue utilizes which is the rescue that I am the director of. Every single kitten and cat that comes into Cuddle Cat Rescue receives a generic version of Capstar and Advantage 2 if the flea infestation is terrible right away. Then generic Capstar again once they are about ready to leave.
Kittens under 2 pounds of body weight will receive a bath with blue dawn dish soap if they are carrying fleas and will be flea combed thoroughly until they are flea free. The kittens must be dried quickly and washed only in a warm environment to avoid hypothermia from being too cold. Sometimes just a long flea picking session with a flea comb is the best solution.
I have found a method of treating fleas for just under one dollar per kitten through my many years of animal sheltering and protocol design. I am going to compare the cost of traditional flea treatment in this article with the method that I use for flea treatment so you can get an overview of why I do what I do and how it can improve your own strategies. You will be shocked at the difference.
Advantage 2 is currently the most recommended flea prevention for cats in the shelter environment other than Revolution which also works surprisingly well. There has been resistance in Frontline so I avoid it. The cost of a 6 pack preventative for small cats from 5 to 9 pounds is $55 or $9 per cat, large cat is the same price but a kitten 4 pack is $42 or $10 per kitten once you do the math.
All of the recommended treatments and methods listed in this article should be utilized by professionals only or by an animal shelter with the knowledge and skills to implement the flea prevention strategies properly.
Cat owners who decide to follow the advice meant for shelters and against this disclaimer do so at their own risk. I do not assume any liability for the actions of others which result in any damage or lead to unforseen circumstances.
Using any product that is not listed in this article such as Advantix and exactly as described is ill advised as it will not work the same or have the same margin of safety. All flea medications should be bought from a reliable pet store or from a licensed veterinarian only.
Finding A More Cost Effective Solution
I decided to compare the ingredients and the size of each tube for the cat Advantage products and the dog Advantage products. What I found in my research is that they all have the exact same ingredients. The only difference is that the kitten version has 0.23 ml per tube, small cat is 0.4 ml per tube, large cat is 0.8 ml per tube and the extra large dog tube is a whopping 4.0 ml per tube.
So what I decided to do under the guidance of Cornell and Koret Shelter Medicine is to split the extra large dog Advantage 2 for cats to make it go further. I would split the amount of the 4.0 ml Advantage package down to what the individual cat Advantage products use for different weights in ml.
I would give 0.23 ml for kittens, 0.4 ml for adults from 5 to 9 pounds and 0.8 ml for large adult cats over 9 pounds which is consistent with what the cat Advantage products have in each tube. I would put the entire package of Advantage tubes into a airtight medical vial then draw up the solution with a syringe which would be placed onto the the scruff of the cat like any other flea treatment is. Syringes can be bought on Amazon for cheap.
A 6 pack of extra large dog Advantage 2 product will cost you right around $56.99 which is a total of 24 ml. This will treat 60 kittens for $1 each, small cats for $2 each and large cats for $4 each. The savings is exponential if you are a rescue or shelter with a little amount of money to spend. I would still prefer to use the cat version for my personal cats.
Revolution Can Be Used Also
Revolution can be applied in the exact same fashion but the dosages are different when you start to use this product. The difference between Revolution and Advantage is that Revolution prevents ear mites, treats common worms and prevents heart worm disease. The information on Revolution can be found here.
You would purchase a 6 pack extra large dog size of revolution for $119 which requires a prescription online or through your vet. The packaging is plum colored. Each tube of Revolution will have a total of 3 ml compared to the 4 ml per tube that Advantage 2 contains.
Cats under 5 pounds will get 0.13 ml of the flea preventative, cats between 5 to 15 pounds will receive 0.38 ml and cats between 15.1 to 22 pounds will receive 0.50 ml. Kittens must be of at least 2 pounds and 8 weeks to receive flea medication. It is administered with a syringe on the back of the neck just like Advantage. You can save more money if you buy more Advantage in bulk.
Please note that dog Advantage Multi cannot be used in this fashion as it contains a way stronger concentration of the heart worm prevention than the cat version contains. Any other product not listed in this article should be thoroughly reviewed with your veterinarian or with a qualified shelter specialist as they have not been researched, tested and evaluated in a shelter setting.
An Alternative to Capstar
Capstar is very effective for killing all adult fleas swiftly as you can tell from the picture that is at the top of this article. It does not prevent flea eggs from hatching nor does it kill flea eggs. I typically use this right before applying Advantage 2 because it does not prevent the flea eggs from hatching.
This product is excellent for shelters to use before sending a cat home so the adopter cannot say that the cat had fleas when they went home which would be bad for your reputation. I choose to use it before they come into the shelter from questionable situations or before they go to the vet clinic to get fixed as a courtesy to the veterinary clinic.
A 6 pack of Capstar which contains 11.4 mg of nitenpyram is currently $19.99 which is $3 for each cat who is between 2 to 25 pounds. This can be quite costly for shelters who do not have much money like Cuddle Cat Rescue but wants to offer the best care that they can for cats and for their adopters.
I purchase Fast Tabs which is a generic version of Capstar on Petshed which is $119 for 100 tablets of 57 mg nitenpyram. This is the large dog size generic Capstar. You will save the most money if your purchase a 100 pack of generic Capstar.
You simply slice a generic Capstar tablet meant for a 25-125 pound dog in fifths so that it is used for any cat up to 25 pounds. Dogs up to 25 pounds can also be treated. You can now treat 500 kittens/cats at the cost of 23 cents per treatment. Now you can treat every cat for fleas at a price shelters and rescues can afford.
The People Who Are Against Splitting Doses
I recognize there will veterinarians who are against this protocol and try to discredit the use of this method. I learned about this method from the Koret Shelter Medicine program and during my studies of shelter medicine in my shelter management program. I am close partners with three rescues who currently use this method and have for years with no tragedies or lack of efficacy.
Your veterinarian for your rescue needs to recognize that you take in many homeless, sick and abandoned cats that need flea prevention. These are not your own personal cats so we are now looking at herd health which is about saving money and remaining effective/safe at the same time. Rescue is a true balancing act.
It is simply not possible for a shelter or rescue to buy the cat Advantage or Revolution for administration at the price that they sell it for and afford to keep your doors open. Even large scale animal shelters do this. I know for sure that there is no way I could afford flea prevention otherwise.