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Last updated on June 23, 2017

The Best Flea Treatment for Cats

Wipe out an infestation fast
The 30-Second Review

The best flea treatment for cats kills fleas quickly and is easy to administer. To find our top picks, we consulted with pet and insect experts, researched active ingredients, and examined the finalists ourselves. All of our top medications kill fleas fast, but if you want to prevent a flea population from growing, choose a spot-on.

Best Monthly Flea and Tick Treatment

Frontline Plus for Cats kills all stages fleas and ticks for up to a month and was the easiest to apply.

Sentry Fiproguard Plus for Cats uses the same active ingredients, but its applicator is messier — not ideal when handling insecticides. Still, we liked that it's half the price of Frontline.

Fast-Acting Flea Relief

These three tiny tablets all begin to kill fleas in 30 minutes, but remember — they won't protect your cat from a re-infestation or any other pests. You'll need to use it daily until the fleas are under control.

The Best Flea Treatment for Cats

Our favorite spot-on, Frontline Plus for Cats ($32 for three treatments), uses an insecticide and insect growth regulator to kill and repel any kind of pest your cat could encounter. That means all stages of fleas, ticks, and chewing lice. Better yet, Frontline’s long snap-off applicator is the easiest to apply. Like all spot-on treatments, the medicine is applied to a small area at the base of your cat’s neck, so they can’t lick it off. You’ll administer the medicine once a month, but it starts killing fleas in as little as 12 hours.

Sentry Fiproguard Plus ($12 for three treatments) contains the exact same insecticide/insect growth regulator combination as Frontline Plus, but its thicker applicator tip requires scissors, and while this isn’t a major deal breaker, some owners might not want to juggle the medicine, a nervous cat, and a sharp object all at once. If you don’t mind the extra step, we liked that it was less than half the price.

If your cat needs relief from fleas as quickly as possible, use an oral tablet. Sentry Capguard ($13 for six tablets) uses the same ingredients as Capstar and PetArmor FastCaps, but it’s usually cheaper. The medication starts working in 30 minutes and kills 90 percent of fleas within six hours. The downside of oral flea medication is that it only kills adult fleas. It won’t prevent a future infestation or treat other insects. If you have an outdoor cat, you’ll need to give your cat a tablet every day or switch to a spot-on after 24 hours for a cheaper long-term prevention.

Our Picks for the Best Flea Treatment for Cats

Best Monthly Flea and Tick Treatment

Frontline Plus Apply this liquid medication to your cat's neck once a month to kill all stages of fleas, ticks, and chewing lice.

Frontline Plus for Cats is our favorite spot-on treatment. One monthy applications kills more types of pest than any other spot-on. That includes all stages of fleas — eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults — as well as ticks and chewing lice. Frontline starts killing fleas within four hours after application and kills 100% of fleas within 12.

Application was easy too; Frontline uses a long, clear, snap-off applicator tip that’s easy to open with your cat in tow. By comparison, Sentry Fiproguard Plus and PetArmor Plus require scissors, and some of the liquid leaked out onto our scissors each time we cut them open — we had to take extra caution to make sure it didn’t leave a residue on our hands. After application, you should keep children and other pets away from your cat for at least 24 hours while the product dries.

Another Option for Long-Haired Cats We like Catego’s long, space-age applicator tip, ideal for long-haired cats. It was the easiest to apply, but it cost twice as much as Frontline and can’t be used on pregnant, nursing, elderly, or disabled cats.

Each application kills and prevents fleas and ticks for a month and prevents fleas for almost twice as long — up to six weeks. Because spot-on medications are waterproof and absorb into the skin after 48 hours, they’re good options for cats that like the outdoors, and you don’t have to reapply after your furry friend gets wet.

Unlike many flea medications, you can use it on cats as young as 8 weeks old as long as they’re over 1.5 lbs, in addition to breeding, breastfeeding cats. Kittens are just as susceptible to fleas and ticks – but can’t always handle the insecticides used in other topical medications. So it’s a win all around. In terms of price, Frontline is one of the more expensive spot-ons we tested at $32 for 3 applications.

From left to right: Frontline Plus, Catego, Sentry Fiproguard Plus, PetArmor Plus

A Cheaper Spot-On Medication

Sentry Fiproguard Plus It uses the same active ingredients as Frontline Plus, but was a little harder to apply. The upside: It's half the price and smells faintly like lemons, not chemicals.

Sentry Fiproguard Plus uses the same active ingredients as Frontline Plus as , but it’s half the price at $12 for three applications.

While the formulas are similar, we uncovered a few differences during our hands-on testing. Specifically, we found that we preferred Frontline’s clear packaging and snap-off tip. Sentry had to be cut open, and the medicine leaked out onto our scissors each time. You’ll have to take extra caution to make sure it doesn’t leave a chemical residue on you or anything you touch.

We noticed a range of scents too. Most spot-ons (Frontline Plus included) have a distinct chemical scent. That’s to be expected – these are chemicals after all – but Sentry’s was slightly more mild, even faintly citrus. But really, the difference is tiny, and the scent from any medicine will likely fade after a day or so.

Fast-Acting Flea Relief

Sentry Capguard All three of our tablet picks use the same insecticide and come in a tiny tablet, but Sentry was the cheapest.

If you just need to treat your cat fast, Sentry Capguard, PetArmor FastCaps, and Capstar Flea Treatment Tablets, and are all decent options. Each brand includes six tiny tablets that use nitenpyram to start killing fleas within 30 minutes.

Since these tablets don’t help prevent future generations of fleas, they’re best used as an immediate, temporary solution. You’ll give your cat a tablet up to once per day until the fleas are gone. But if you’re dealing with a true infestation (you’ll notice fleas on your furniture and carpeting), consider switching to a spot-on after the first day or talk to your vet about prescription options.

You can use these tablets with kittens as young as four weeks old and on cats weighing anywhere between 2 and 25 lbs. Each of the labels also say these products are safe for dogs and puppies, so they’re a versatile option if you have multiple pets.

All three of these oral flea medications were identical in look, smell, and packaging. The only differences between them were brand name and price, and for that reason, we recommend Sentry Capguard at $15 for 6 tablets. PetArmor FastCaps came in a close second at $16 and Capstar was the most expensive at $27.

Did You Know?

Indoor cats are still at-risk for fleas.

The Banfield Pet Hospital State of Pet Health 2016 Report says that fleas are almost twice as prevalent in cats than they are in dogs, making flea education an important topic for cat owners. Even if your cat stays indoors, they should still be treated for fleas. The report states, “Indoor-only pets are also at risk for fleas and ticks since these parasites can unknowingly be on people, other animals, or materials that enter the pet’s environment.”

In the United States, Washington, Oregon, Florida, Louisiana, and Alabama are the top five states for flea problems. Fleas are most common in the South and on the West Coast because they thrive in hot, wet environments.

Insecticide-resistant fleas are a growing concern among pet owners, but vets are split.

We only looked at over-the-counter products for this review, but there are more options available through your vet. Dr. Ari Zabell at Banfield Pet Hospital shed some light on why some products require a prescription. “Some of the current OTC medications are simply medications that were previously available only by prescription but have since proven safe enough to be available over the counter. Prescription medications often use newer ingredients to which fleas haven’t yet developed resistance.”

While insecticide-resistance in fleas is a growing concern, some vets are skeptical. In an article from Veterinary Practice News, Dr. Michael Dryden, DVM, suggested that when a flea medicine doesn’t seem to work, it’s likely due to user error. “I have investigated homes that by owner description sound like there could be a resistance problem but found, when I looked closer, there was always a reason for the failure. None was ever resistance.”

To leave no room for error, read the medicine’s directions before you apply it, set reminders for when it’s time to reapply, and regularly wash your cat’s bedding and vacuum your floors. If you haven’t noticed an improvement in your cat’s fleas after a few weeks or if your cat experiences any side effects, contact your vet for guidance.

Always take precautions when dealing with new medications.

All pets are different and can react to medications in different ways. Some cats can be sensitive to the topical medications being placed on their skin, while others have a sensitive stomach and won’t tolerate a tablet medication. If your cat has allergies or other ailments that could affect how they handle a new flea medicine, consult your vet first to determine the best medication for your cat.

The Best Flea Medicines for Cats: Summed-Up

Flea Medicine for Cats
The Best
Frontline Plus for Cats
Spot-On Treatment
Sentry Fiproguard Plus for Cats
Runner-Up for Spot-On Medication
Sentry Capguard
Oral Treatment
Capstar Flea Treatment Tablets
Runner-Up for Oral Treatment
PetArmor FastCaps
Runner-Up for Oral Treatment