Should I shave my cat to get rid of fleas?
The answer is No. There is a story from the Coventry Telegraph on the internet. It’s about an abandoned cat. She was left in a box outside the RSPCA animal welfare centre. The RSPCA inspector, Jason Mason said: “She had been shaved all over, apart from on her head and tail, was extremely frightened and riddled with live fleas“. There is your answer. So much for the idea of getting rid of fleas by shaving your cat all over. It does not work but I suppose you can see the fleas and get rid of them more easily.
However, there are better and kinder ways such as flea combing and killing the fleas as they are collected in the comb. Also there are topical insecticide spot treatments – the most common (e.g. Frontline). There are shampoos and sprays. The former are safer than the latter as they don’t leave a poisonous residue to be licked off. I would personally not use sprays because they place insecticide on and in the coat which the cat licks off and starts foaming at the mouth (at least that is what happened to my cat 25 years ago). For a massive infestation a bath and good comb should help. You can even dust your cat with food grade diatomaceous earth. This is like a fine off-white powder. It looks awful on the cat but it cuts the exoskeleton of the flea and kills it. Neat solution and completely safe. It is a physical rather than chemical solution. Insecticides are inherently dangerous. Be careful with them and never use dog treatments on cats. There are some bad stories on PoC about some topical treatments (there are others, please search):
- Advantage II Flea Treatment – Neurological Side Effect
- Cat poisoned by Sergeants flea treatment
- Bad experience with a Bob Martin ‘spot on’ treatment. Advice please.
There are other treatments which you can talk to your vet about: Insecticide dips, powders and dusts and flea collars. They all carry some risk as far as I am concerned.
You also have to treat the premises at the same time otherwise they’ll come back. In fact the harder task is getting rid of them from the cat owner’s home. Prevention is the key. My cat lives inside and outside in a garden cat enclosure. Before he was a free-roamer. He has no fleas and has never had fleas except once he had one flea and that was immediately after I adopted him from the cat rescue organisation. I killed it with my bare hands 🙂
But no, despite the urge to get rid of those infuriating fleas by getting rid of the coat they live in, it does not work and it will take a long time to grow back and in the meantime your cat will feel uncomfortable and be vulnerable to sunburn and cold.