Oral Flea Treatment for Cats: Oral flea treatment for cats comes in the form of flavored tablets or chewables that you give your cat by mouth. These oral medications contain active ingredients that kill fleas, flea larvae, and sometimes even flea eggs. They are a convenient alternative to topical flea treatments like flea drops that you apply directly to your cat’s skin.
With oral flea treatment, the medication is absorbed into your cat’s bloodstream and distributed throughout their body, attacking fleas from the inside out. The fleas feed on your cat’s blood, ingesting the medication, which then kills them. These oral preventatives can start working within 30 minutes to 8 hours after giving the dose to your cat.
Some well-known brands of oral flea treatment for cats include Capstar, Nexgard, Bravecto, Credelio, and Simparica. These chewable tablets or flavored chews tend to be very palatable to most cats. The effects typically last for 1 to 3 months, depending on the specific product.
Oral flea treatment for cats is generally very safe, but some cats may experience mild side effects like vomiting, decreased appetite, or diarrhea. Serious side effects are rare but can include lethargy, incoordination or seizures. It’s always a good idea to talk to your vet before starting any new medication for your cat.
With the right oral flea treatment and proper year-round administration, you can win the war against fleas and gain peace of mind that your feline companion is protected.
How Oral Flea Treatments Work
Oral flea treatments for cats work by disrupting the flea life cycle through the use of parasiticides that are safe for cats to ingest. These oral drops or tablets contain active ingredients like lufenuron, nitenpyram or spinosad which are absorbed into the cat’s bloodstream after consumption.
- Once in the blood, these parasiticides spread throughout the cat’s tissues, especially the skin. When fleas feed on the cat, they also ingest these parasiticides. The main way these treatments work is by preventing flea eggs from developing into larvae or pupae, stopping the cycle. Some also kill adult fleas.
- These oral flea treatments provide month-long protection with a single dose. You’ll want to give the initial dose at the start of flea season in early spring or summer, then follow up with boosters each month to keep your feline flea-free until fall.
- Compared to topical flea treatments like Frontline or Advantage, oral flea control for cats is easier to administer since there’s no oily liquid to apply to the skin. It’s also nearly 100% effective at eliminating infestations when used properly and the effects can’t be washed or worn off.
- Some possible side effects may include lethargy or loss of appetite in a small percentage of cats. As with any medication, you’ll want to monitor your cat closely after the first dose to ensure they do not have a negative reaction. If any severe symptoms appear, contact your vet right away.
With the convenience and effectiveness of oral flea control, there’s no reason for your cat to suffer through a flea infestation. Ask your vet about prescription flea prevention pills or drops to get your feline companion back to pest-free comfort.
Benefits of Oral Flea Treatment vs. Topicals
Oral flea treatment for cats offers several benefits over traditional topical treatments like flea collars, sprays, shampoos, and spot-on medications.
Oral flea pills or capsules are easy to give to most cats. No messy liquids to apply or collars to adjust. Just give your cat the pill with a treat or in their food and you’re done. The treatment gets distributed through your cat’s bloodstream, so there’s no smell or residue on their fur. Many cat owners find oral medication simpler and less stressful for both them and their feline friend.
Oral flea preventatives often provide comprehensive protection against fleas, ticks, heartworm and other internal parasites. The medication is fully absorbed into the cat’s system, so the protection can’t be washed or rubbed off. Oral treatments tend to start working faster and last longer than topical options. Many veterinarians actually consider oral flea medication to be the “gold standard” for flea and tick protection in cats.
When used as directed, oral flea treatments are very safe for most cats. Since the medication is fully absorbed by the body, there is little chance of skin irritation or other adverse reactions that can sometimes occur with topical flea treatments. Oral flea pills and capsules also tend to be more natural and chemical-free. They are non-toxic and usually contain natural ingredients.
While oral flea medication does cost more upfront, it may save you money in the long run due to its effectiveness and long-lasting protection. For many cat owners, the benefits of convenience, effectiveness and safety make oral flea treatment the best option for controlling fleas and keeping cats happy and parasite-free.
Potential Side Effects of Oral Flea Medications
Oral flea medications are very effective at killing fleas on your cat, but some potential side effects are possible. As with any medication, some cats may experience adverse reactions. The most common side effects are digestive issues, as the medication is absorbed through the stomach.
1. Digestive Upset
Some cats may experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea after taking an oral flea pill. This is usually temporary, but if symptoms persist for more than a day or two, contact your vet. It may help to give the medication with food to avoid an upset stomach.
Oral flea medication contains powerful pesticides to kill fleas. Some cats may experience fatigue, lack of appetite, or become less active after administration. Again, these side effects are often temporary, but monitor your cat closely after giving the first dose to ensure no serious adverse reactions.
3. Neurological Issues
Rare, but potential side effects include dilated pupils, incoordination, tremors or seizures. This can indicate the medication was improperly dosed or your cat is highly sensitive to one of the ingredients. Seek vet care immediately if your cat shows these symptoms. Your vet may advise switching to a different flea medication or dosage in the future.
4. Allergic Reaction
Very rarely, a cat may have an allergic reaction to oral flea medication. Symptoms like facial swelling, hives, scratching, difficulty breathing require emergency vet care. Your vet can administer steroids or antihistamines to counteract the reaction. They will determine if that particular flea medication should be avoided for your cat in the future.
While side effects do not occur in most cats, it’s best to closely monitor your cat after the initial dose of any new medication. Oral flea treatments have revolutionized flea control for many cat owners, but as with any pesticide, the possibility of adverse reactions exists. Talk to your vet if you have any concerns about giving oral flea medication to your cat.
Is it safe?
Oral flea prevention, like Nexgard for cats, is very safe for most kitties when used as directed. The active ingredient, afoxolaner, has been thoroughly tested and approved for cats over 4 pounds and older than 8 weeks. However, as with any medication, some cats may experience side effects like diarrhea, vomiting, or lethargy. Talk to your vet about any concerns you may have.
How effective is it?
Oral flea medication starts working within 4 to 12 hours after ingestion to kill adult fleas. It provides full protection against fleas within 24 hours and lasts for at least 30 days. Studies show these oral treatments can kill up to 100% of fleas within 24 hours. They are very effective at breaking the flea life cycle and preventing re-infestation.
Do I still need to treat my home?
Using a comprehensive approach by also treating your home environment is the best way to get rid of a flea infestation. Apply a flea spray, powder, or growth regulator to thoroughly treat the areas where your cat rests, sleeps or travels. This helps eliminate all stages of the flea life cycle and prevents re-infestation. Continue treating the home for at least 3 months after starting oral medication.
Can I give oral and topical treatment together?
Giving both oral and topical flea prevention at the same time is not recommended and can increase the chances of negative side effects. Oral medication provides full body protection from the inside out, so additional topical treatment is unnecessary. However, for severe infestations, short-term use of both may be needed to quickly eliminate the infestation. Always talk to your vet before combining medications.