The Best Topical Flea Treatments For Cats

Dealing with fleas can be a nightmare. Our market research indicates that the best topical flea treatment is Bayer Advantage II Flea Prevention, due to its fast acting nature.

Cat with fleas

@laura_lee / Unsplash

Fleas are often just as frustrating for owners to deal with as they are for cats. Luckily, there are plenty of options out there for flea control, each suited to different levels of infestation. We’re going to take a closer look at topical flea treatments for cats and how the active ingredient in each works.

If you don’t have time for the details and you just want to know what product works, we think you’re best off purchasing Bayer Advantage II Flea Prevention, it’s a fast acting option from a well respected brand that has yet to be rivaled by any competitor.

It comes in different varieties and strengths depending on the age of your cat, so pay close attention to the packaging of the variant you’re purchasing.

The active ingredient used in topical treatments differs between manufacturers. Of course, most claim theirs is the miracle cure. Many are effective, but only a select few really stand out from the crowd.

Here our favorite products and the active ingredient combinations used by each.

Best Topical Cat Flea Treatments

ImageNameActive Ingredient
Bayer Advantage II Flea PreventionImidacloprid & Pyriproxyfen
PetArmor Flea And TickFipronil
Cheristin For CatsSpinetoram
Catego Flea and Tick ControlDinotefuran, Pyriproxyfen & Fipronil

Now that you know the fancy science names for each of the ingredients used in the market leaders, we’ll look in a little more depth at the way they work and just how long they work for.

Below is a list of the best topical flea treatments for cats ranked with efficiency and cost effectiveness in mind.

Bayer Advantage II Flea Prevention

Bayer’s veterinarian-recommended flea treatment does exactly that; treat fleas. It does so very effectively.

We’ve never been disappointed by the well-being products they produce and this topical flea medicine is no different.

The active ingredient “Imidacloprid” gets to work quickly, killing fleas on contact within 12 hours of application.

Bayer claim it keeps working for 30 days (you can’t reapply until after 30 days anyway), but they’re not far wrong.

Imidacloprid works in conjuction with Pyriproxyfen (it’s other active ingredient), to kill adult fleas and flea eggs. This breaks the life cycle of fleas and means they can’t reappear when the larvae matures.

It’s available in three different weight classes, 2-5 lb, 5-9 lb and Over 9 lb. Make sure you purchase the correct treatment for your cat’s weight.

It’s totally odorless and fragrance-free, waterproof and kills through contact.

We’re yet to see a product reach the same levels of efficiency for the price. A must buy for owners struggling to tackle stubborn fleas.

PetArmor Flea And Tick

PetArmor claim their active ingredient (Fibronil) to be the #1 vet recommended ingredient for tackling fleas.

We’re pretty sure the “#1” just depends on who you ask, but it certainly is effective.

Suitable for cats and kittens that are over 1.5lbs and at least 8 weeks old, you can expect an easy-to-use topical flea treatment that rivals even the best brands around.

The fast acting ingredients get to work in as little as an hour from application.

As with most topical flea medicines you apply it between the shoulder blades to avoid any chance of consumption.

PetArmor recommend that you reapply the flea treatment monthly for the best results.

It offers incredible value for money, which is why we’ve placed it firmly in second spot. There simply is no better budget option for topically treating cats with fleas.

Cheristin For Cats

Cheristin’s weapon of choice is Spinetoram, and it’s no wonder.

Spinetoram gets to work quickly and in some cases can eliminate 100% of fleas within a 12 hour period. That’s incredibly fast acting.

The applicator itself is specially designed to be gentle on your cat. I’m sure anyone who’s wrestled with an unhappy cat will be grateful for that when the time comes.

It’s suitable for cats over 1.8lbs and over 8 weeks old. They make a special note not to use more than a single dose if you have a large cat (20lbs+) due to the potency of the active ingredient.

They claim long lasting relief from fleas, which in topical flea treatment terms is around the month mark.

In our experience you can expect a minimum of 25 days flea-free when using Cheristin.

As with all products mentioned here, it’s important to monitor your cat after application. The active ingredient here is an especially strong one, which is great for killing fleas, but not so great if your cat has a bad reaction to it.

Catego Flea and Tick Control

Catego’s triple threat of Dinotefuran, Fipronil and Pyriproxyfen ensures that every base is covered.

Adult fleas, eggs, larvae, ticks, lice, you name it. Catego’s unique combination of active ingredients is up to the task.

It claims to be effective in as little as 6 hours, with it’s effect lasting up to 30 days. A similar story to the other options on our list.

As easy to apply as the rest, non-greasy and quick-drying it holds it’s own against even the most effective topical flea treatments around.

It’s come in last place because we aren’t really convinced the triple action is any more effective than a single active ingredient.

In our experience, fleas disappeared equally quickly with the single active ingredient topical treatments as they did with multiple ingredient ones.

Perhaps this is one best saved for severe infestations where the whole flea life-cycle needs attention. For general cases though, we’d definitely stick to Bayer’s Advantage II.

Why choose a topical flea treatment for cats

Though there are several types of treatments available that combat fleas in felines, many owners end up opting for a topical solution because it’s convenient and cost-effective.

Topical medicines offer long lasting relief from fleas in most cases.

They’re easy to apply, just at the base of the head, between the shoulder blades and can last for up to 30 days.

Most topical medicines are capable of stopping fleas biting within three to five minutes of being applied and can kill 99 per cent or more of fleas within a 12 hour period.

There’s something about a topical treatment that feels more natural than using capsules for flea treatment, and some owners are opposed to using collars with flea prevention properties even though the best collars are often viable method of tackling fleas.

How topical flea treatments work

The active ingredients differ in strength and in their mechanism from brand to brand, though most are insecticides designed specifically to target the flea’s nervous system.

Insecticides work through paralyzing the flea by overstimulating their nervous system. This leads to fast acting relief for your cat, and eventual death for the adult fleas.

Many topical flea serums contain other active ingredients that work to break down flea eggs and larvae as a way of combating the whole life-cycle.

The best topical flea treatments for cats work on contact, meaning they only need to brush against a flea to take effect. There are some treatments that require the flea to consume the liquid, and those are generally less fast-acting.

How often should you apply topical flea treatments

Many experts and commercial product manufacturers recommend you apply a flea control product such as a topical medicine at least half-yearly, but no sooner than 30 days from the last application.

The reason for this is that the flea life-cycle is around 6 months in duration, so a treatment that eliminates both adult fleas and larvae should be effective for a long time.

While most products only guarantee protection for up to 30 days or, you should see that fleas are controlled for a longer period when investing in the best topical treatments for fleas.

Make sure you have a flea comb on hand to help remove dead fleas and larvae from your cats coat. You’ll see far longer protection window if you actively help stop new adult fleas settling too.

It may also be worth investing a flea killing spray, this can help keep adult fleas out of carpets and linen while you deal with the infestation on your cat.

Are all topical flea treatments safe for cats

As with any treatment, there are always some medical concerns with the active ingredients that you may want to run past your veterinarian before applying them to your cat.

For the most part, topical treatments are perfectly safe unless ingested. While mammals (even us!) have similar receptors to the ones the medicines target, they are only affected at a very minor scale when compared to a flea.

With proper application and dosage, there should not be any issues with any of the active ingredients mentioned above.

In extreme cases, cats can become sick from ingesting the topical treatment. This is likely to result in vomiting and loss of appetite, if you notice any strange behavior that suggest your cat has reacted badly to the treatment, visit a veterinarian immediately.

It’s also possible that a skin reaction could occur, this would manifest in the form of hair loss around the area of application or persistent attempts to scratch the area. This is likely to clear up fairly quickly, though a trip to the vets should still be arranged promptly.

Are topical treatments for cats the same as for dogs

No.

Flea treatments that are intended for use on dogs only are absolutely not suitable for use on cats.

A majority of cat treatments come in different variations depending on the weight and age of your cat, so please be careful when purchasing a topical flea eliminating product.