How to Safely Remove Fleas From Kittens

The dreaded little insects have invaded your kitten! Before you reach for any flea medicine for kittens, read these instructions.

Learn how to safely remove fleas from your kitten. By: waldoj
Learn how to safely remove fleas from your kitten. By: waldoj

There aren’t many things cuter than a kitten, but imagine your shock when playing with your new pet and finding fleas.

These little bloodsucking insects can cause major problems for kittens and need to be removed.

Fleas can make a new home on your kitten in many ways, even in indoor cats. The mother may have fleas, the kitten may have picked them up outside, or sand tracked indoors can even contain fleas. As soon as you notice there are fleas either in the house or on a pet, take action.

The Worst Thing You Can Do Is Nothing

A flea infestation can cause anemia in kittens.

  • Check that the gums are pink since this condition can be deadly, and bring your kitten to the veterinarian if you notice a discoloration.
  • Fleas can also cause excessive scratching and skin irritation.

Kittens are especially delicate, and some treatments are not safe. Follow the advice of your vet. Also, never use medication designed for dogs or adult cats — these could be deadly to a kitten.

If you are removing fleas from a newborn kitten: Treat the mother and remove the fleas from the kitten. They are small so there isn’t a large area to cover, and you should be able to remove them with your fingers or tweezers easily. Because of their age and fragility, don’t apply any type of detergent or medication on newborn kittens.

Supplies You’ll Need

  • 2 towels
  • Mild dishwashing detergent, such as Dawn
  • A cup of hot, soapy water
  • A flea comb OR a pair of tweezers — we like this flea comb from Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Plastic bag or garbage bag

How to Safely Remove Fleas From Kittens

1. Soak, lather, rinse.

Run a bath of warm water in the sink. Immerse your kitten up to the neck and make sure all fur is wet. Remove the cat from the bath and place on a towel to apply the detergent. Gently massage the detergent all over the kitten — avoid the eyes.

Fleas will run for the driest area of the kitten, so it is not unusual to see them swarm to the head and facial area. If you can grab these fleas, drop them into the cup of hot, soapy water before rinsing the kitten.

Submerge your kitten up to the neck in the water again to rinse off the detergent. Place on a clean towel.

2. Pick off the fleas while the fur is wet.

While the fur is still wet, go over the kitten with the flea comb or pick off fleas using tweezers or your fingers.

Again drop any fleas in the cup of hot, soapy water as you find them.

3. Clean the bedding or blankets.

Place the dry kitten in an area free from fleas and grab a plastic bag or trash bag. Gather up all bedding and fabric the kitten may have come in contact with and wash them in hot water.

Vacuum any areas the kitten has come in contact with, and treat any other kittens (or the mother, if present and also carrying fleas). It’s important to clean the environment as well as the animals —otherwise, the fleas will be a persistent problem.

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Don't use detergent on a newborn kitten. By: cibomahto
For kittens younger than 4 weeks, there’s no safe medication for killing their fleas. You’ll have to pick the fleas out. By: cibomahto

What About Flea Medicine for Kittens?

There are medications readily available to treat the mother or adult cat. Medications for kittens are determined by age and can be deadly, so it’s important to check with your vet before applying anything.

  • Newborns need manual flea removal, but kittens over 4 weeks old may be treated with Capstar (there is a minimum weight requirement). This application kills the adult fleas but not their offspring. Other medications list 8 weeks of age as a minimum.
  • Natural, homeopathic or essential oil treatments may harm your kitten, so avoid using these, especially if you haven’t consulted your vet first.

Here’s a video explaining more:

Fleas are pesky, tiny insects and multiple washings and cleanings may be necessary. Even after the initial treatment of your kitten and home, you may still see a few sneaking around.

Kill or remove the fleas as soon as you see them, and keep checking your kitten to make sure the fleas don’t move back in. As your kitten gets older, you will be able to switch to topical treatments — but until then, stay vigilant and treat on the spot.


This pet health content was reviewed by a veterinarian.


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Petful®, formerly known as Pets Adviser, is passionate about helping pets live happier, healthier lives. Our writers include veterinarians Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD, and Dr. Pippa Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS, among other experts. We are a veterinarian-recommended source of trusted information. Founded by award-winning journalist and editor Dave Baker, a longtime advocate for pet food safety, Petful is the leading independent source of U.S. pet food recall information on the web. Learn more about the amazing team behind Petful here: Meet the Team.

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