A few facts about fleas
Fleas are similar to cockroaches in that they adapt to their environment. They become stronger and more immune to the popular chemical products with each generation.
Most of the fleas are living in your pet's environment, rather than in its fur. (Every flea found on your pet may mean that there are approximately 30 more living in your home.)
A single flea can lay as many as 60 eggs per day. The lifespan of a flea is about 90 days. Controlling fleas does require some effort, but there are safer and effective ways to control fleas than several well-known commercial flea control products.
"Buyer beware" -- Toxic products masquerading as "natural"
Even if all the ingredients in a flea repellent product are natural, this doesn't ensure that they won't be toxic to your pet. For instance, d'Limonene, which is derived from citrus peels and found in many natural anti-flea products, can be highly toxic to cats. Herbal flea collars, though they don't contain the poisons that conventional flea collars do, come with the same warning: do not let children play with the collar. If it's not good for your child, why would it be good for your pet?
It is advisable to read product labels carefully. For example, one line of supposedly natural flea sprays and dips contains "all natural synthetic Pyrethrin." Pyrethrins are insecticides derived from the African chrysanthemum (Pyrethrum). Pyrethroids are synthetic derivatives of pyrethrins. Both are commonly used in conventional preparations which make the product sound innocent because it's derived from a flower. But pyrethrins alone can be toxic to the animal and pyrethroids expose your animal to more chemicals.
Other natural ingredients known to cause allergic reactions or have toxic effects in some animals include Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil and Pennyroyal oil.
Cat owners take special note: Cats should not be given any essential oils, period.
The use of essential oils with cats is a potentially volatile combination. Cats do not efficiently metabolize essential oils and their use can lead to symptoms of toxicity. In addition to essential oils, cats have known metabolic sensitivities to certain herbal preparations and allopathic medications. Because the cat's body does not efficiently excrete essential oils, they can build up to toxic levels. Symptoms of toxicity include vomiting, dizziness, clumsiness, lack of appetite, lack of energy and shock. In addition, cats have very thin, delicate skin. Essential oils are absorbed rapidly into their skin and enter the bloodstream, overwhelming their systems. Cats dislike strong odors and generally keep away from strong scents -- even highly diluted essential oils.
Many people find that they can use essential oils on their cats with no obvious adverse effects. Although one or more applications of an essential oil product or blend may not cause immediate harm, the effects of essential oils can be cumulative and manifest themselves at a later date in the form of toxicity for which owners and vets often can find no attributable cause.
WHAT YOU CAN DO IF YOU HAVE A FLEA INFESTATION PROBLEM
The best flea control is prevention. Unfortunately, sometimes people and pets find that their environment is already infested with fleas. Rather than resorting to toxic chemicals and poisons to eliminate fleas, you should know there are safe and natural alternatives. First, washing is effective in eliminating fleas. Combing and shampooing your pet is a great way to immediately eliminate fleas from your pet. If fleas are found on the comb, dip the comb in a bowl of soapy water. When shampooing your pet, we recommend using a natural and gentle shampooing product instead of a flea dip or pesticide shampoo. Soap and warm water kills fleas without poison.
Be mindful that shampooing too frequently may cause your pet’s skin to become overly dry. There are gentle pet shampoo products on the market specially formulated for animals with dry or problem skin.
Use warm water and start lathering around pet’s neck and work back towards the tail. This way any fleas on your pet trying to crawl away from the shampoo will not congregate on your pet’s face.
To eliminate fleas from your pet’s bed, you should wash your pet’s bedding with detergent in HOT water and dry bedding thoroughly in the dryer. This will help prevent your pet from becoming re-infested when he or she sleeps. Frequent vacuuming of floors, rugs, furniture, and pillows is an effective way of removing fleas and their eggs from your pet’s environment. To prevent caught fleas from climbing out of your vacuum cleaner’s bag and re-infesting, be sure to properly dispose of the vacuum cleaner’s waste. Proper disposal of the vacuum cleaner waste also avoids the risk of having collected flea eggs from hatching inside the bag and re-infesting your pet’s environment.