Best Flea Shampoo for Cats Buying Guide

In this Buying Guide we will cover our top four picks for flea shampoos as well as go into detail about what fleas are, how to detect them and how to get rid of them. 

 A Flea Shampoo is useful for getting rid of fleas that are on your cat, and whilst they will not solve your flea problem entirely, they are a good tool to have in your arsenal, and a quick way to give your cat some relief.

Our Top Pick

Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor for Dogs and Cats

The Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor gets the the number 1 spot in our buying guide. This shampoo is very efficient in killing the fleas on your cat or dog* to give your cat some much-needed relief. The addition of Precor (an Insect Growth Regulator) is an excellent addition that sees it top this list just ahead of the other flea shampoo from Adams.

* A flea shampoo will not completely solve your flea problem, but only kill the fleas that are on your cat. It is meant to be used in conjunction with other Flea Treatment solutions to combat flea infestation. Read more about that in our Best Flea Treatments for Cats Buying Guide as well as further down in this Buying Guide.

Our Top 4 Picks

Ranking

Product

Our Rating

Price

1

Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor for Dogs and Cats

2

Adams Flea and Tick Cleansing Shampoo

3

Four Paws Magic Coat Flea and Tick Cat Grooming Shampoo, 12oz

4

Sentry PurrScriptions Flea and Tick Shampoo for Cats, 12-Ounce

What Are Fleas?

There are thousands of different flea species in the world (over 2000), but the most bothersome and common one to torment our cats is Ctenocephalides felis, better known as the cat flea. Fleas, once attached to an animal, spend the majority of their life on the animal, feeding on the blood of the host and laying eggs (if female).  

Ctenocephalides felis, picture by Katja ZSM under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

The Ctenocephalides felis (cat flea), female.

Image Credit: Katja ZSM under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Lifecycle of a Flea

A flea´s lifecycle is roughly a month, sometimes longer or shorter depending on the climate. Fleas prefer warm and humid environments. During its life it passes through several stages in development to become an adult flea. It starts its life as an egg before hatching into a larvae before transforming into a pupae ( a cocoon) as the final stage before adulthood.  The eggs once layed, usually fall of the animal before the flea jumps to a new animal once it is in its larvae or adult state.

Eggs, Everywhere!

According to William Miller Jr., VMD in this article for The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine website, an adult flea lays a minimum of 20 eggs per day, half of which are females [1] and these female fleas can lay up to 1 egg per hour. Because of this high reproduction rate and fast growth, you can be pretty sure there are plenty of friends nearby if you spot a flea on your cat. In fact, you can usually expect 100 immature fleas in the vicinity of a single flea.[2]

Carriers of Disease

Fleas can be carries of bacteria and infectious agents such as the dog and cat tapewom and the bacteria that causes cat-scratching in humans. [3] The blood loss a kitten can suffer from being infested by thousands of fleas can cause anemia. It is therefore important that you always have a flea control routine and take action if you spot a flea. You can read more about how you spot fleas further down in this article, and all the treatments available in the Best Flea Treatments for Cats Buying Guide.

What Makes A Good Flea Shampoo (How We Scored Our Picks)?

There are many flea shampoos out on the market, some more efficient than others. We have picked only shampoos that are suitable for cats as cats have a heightened sensitivity to the toxicity of the pesticides found in these types of shampoos. Never use flea shampoos that are only meant for dogs on your cat, as these can be lethal to your cat.

Insect Growth Regulators

Insect Growth Regulators (IGR) are synthetic growth regulators that help limit the growth of fleas (for example, stops a flea from maturing from a larvae into adulthood) and they are an important and useful tool to combat flea infestations. They are normally only found in other flea treatment solutions but one such IGR, Precor* is in the ingredients of our number one pick. These IGRs are completely harmless to your cat.[4]

* The active ingredient in Precor is Methoprene.

Toxicity

Toxicity is a factor both when it comes to how efficient it is at killing the fleas and whether or not the toxicity level in the shampoo is dangerous to your cat. Cats are more sensitive to this than dogs and it is therefore vital to consider the level of toxicity, as well as to follow the instructions for use very carefully. In this Buying Guide we only recommend shampoos that are specifically okayed for use with cats. Some flea shampoos designer for dogs only are in lethal to cat, so if you have a dog in your household that uses such a shampoo, keep your cat away from the dog while this shampoo is on them.

If you accidently overdose on the amount of shampoo (read the label carefully) or your cat has an unexpected sensitivity to the pesticides in the shampoo, your cat may show signs of toxicity​. Symptoms of this include vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, sluggishness, weakness, or abnormal behavior. [5]

​http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/vmth/small_animal/dermatology/factsheets.cfm

Effectiveness

How efficient a flea shampoo is in killing the fleas on the cat is of course an important factor in deciding which flea shampoo is the best. Both the Adams shampoos gets top marks from us in this regard.

The Adams Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor runs away with the number 1 spot in our buying guide. This shampoo is very efficient in killing the fleas on your cat or dog* to give your cat some much-needed relief. The addition of Precor (an Insect Growth Regulator) is an excellent addition that sees it top this list just ahead of the other flea shampoo from Adams.
* A flea shampoo will not completely solve your flea problem, but only kill the fleas that are on your cat. It is meant to be used in conjunction with other Flea Treatment solutions to combat flea infestation. Read more about that in our Best Flea Treatments for Cats Buying Guide as well as further down in this Buying Guide.

What We Like:

  • Very efficient at killing the fleas on your cat (if applied correctly, and repeated if needed)
  • The addition of the Precor IGR is a good bonus. This prevents eggs that are laid on your cat to hatch.
  • Good value for your money.

What We Don´t Like:

  • Nothing.

#2 Adams Flea and Tick Cleansing Shampoo

Much like our number 1 pick, this shampoo from Adams does the job when it comes to killing the fleas on your cat and providing much-needed relief and respite from these pesky insects. You can´t go wrong with either of these shampoos from Adams.

What We Like:

  • Very efficient at killing the fleas on your cat (if applied correctly, and repeated if needed)
  • Good value for your money.

What We Don´t Like

  • No IGR included in the ingredients.

#3 Four Paws Magic Coat Flea and Tick Cat Grooming Shampoo, 12oz

Rounding out our top 3 is the Four Paws Magic Coat Flea and Tick Cat Grooming Shampoo. This shampoo does a good job in both killing fleas and grooming your cat´s fur while it´s it at it, making it deserving of a top 3 spot. It is a minus however that you cannot buy it directly from Amazon but have to buy it through private vendors on Amazon.

What We Like:

  • It cleans your cat well and kills most fleas.

What We Don´t Like

  • Some customers complain about the effeciency in killing flees, reporting that it doesn´t kill all the fleas.
  • Can´t buy directly from Amazon itself.
  • No IGR included.

#4 Sentry PurrScriptions Flea and Tick Shampoo for Cats, 12-Ounce

This shampoo in addition to killing fleas is rich in coconut conditioners and acts as a good grooming shampoo for your cat as well and this earns it a spot in this buying guide.

What We Like:

  • Cleans and kills most of the fleas and cleans your cat well.

What We Don´t Like

  • Some customers report that it doesn´t kill all the fleas on the cat.
  • No IGR included.

How To Detect Fleas

Detecting fleas on a cat can be difficult since cats can be infested with hundreds of fleas without showing any symptoms of infection. Therefore, you should think of flea prevention as a continual process and not wait for your cat to show clear symptoms, as this is usually an indication that the problem is already quite severe.

Symptoms of Flea Infestation

Many cats will not show any sign of flea infestation until the infestation is well underway. Some cats are sensitive to flea bites and may develop an allergy to the bites, where symptoms include excessive scratching that may cause sores that can be vulnerable to infection. Kittens as mentioned are especially at risk for developing anemia due to the blood loss suffered from fleas feeding on their blood.

Finding Them On Your Cat

You should have set of clippers ready, stryptic powder or a stryptic pencil in case of bleeding. Some cats are calmer if they are wrapped in a towel during the session as well. The clipping should be either done on a smooth surface where your cat can´t easily get a grip and get away, or on your lap.

Combing

Another way to spot and remove fleas is to comb your cat with a comb like this. If your cat is infested with fleas, you should be able to spot the fleas on the comb if you look closely.

Looking for Flea Dirt

Another thing to look for in addition to the fleas themselves is "flea dirt". Flea dirt is just a nicer way to describe the feces of the fleas. The fleas will defecate on your cat, and these excrements looks like tiny black spots in your cat´s fur. You may observe red trails next to the flea dirt. This is because the feces is filled with blood that the fleas sucked out of your cat.

How To Get Rid of Fleas

Dealing with flea infestation problems and preventing them is an ongoing and multi part process and is never solved completely with only a treatment option such as a flea shampoo or a flea collar. Be sure to visit the other Buying Guides in this series on flea related products for more information, as well as reading the general tips below.

Clean Your Cat With The Flea Shampoo

We recommend you follow the exact instructions on your flea shampoo closely as the recommended procedure may change based on the product. If you are using one of the Adams flea shampoos they recommend the following procedure:

1. Soak your cat under warm water, making sure you soak your cat completely and do not miss any spots spots.

2. Apply the shampoo on your cats head, ears and lather. Repeat the procedure on the neck, body, the behind, finishing off with the legs at the end.

3. Let your cat stay with the shampoo applied for 3-5 minutes. This step is crucial for it to work effectively. Stay with your cat the whole time to make sure your cat does not remove or ingest any of the shampoo.

4. Rinse your cat thoroughly and be sure to remove any trace of the shampoo. Depending on the level of flea infestation on your cat, you may need to repeat the entire process several times.

Clean Your House & Your Cat´s Environment

As mentioned above, using a flea shampoo will only kill the fleas on your cat, and does not solve your flea infestation problems completely. It is also vital that you clean your house and your cat´s environment (the garden and outdoor areas). This requires frequent and meticulous vacuuming and you may need to apply flea killing products such as flea sprays to areas of your house or property if you spot fleas there.

To make your efforts more efficient, target areas that are more likely to be flea infested areas. Indoors this includes bedding areas, feeding areas and in general the areas where your prefers to spend the most time.

Be sure to remove any toys, food bowls etc before applying the products and vacuum very well. Outdoors you should look in and treat shaded and moist areas since fleas thrive in these types of areas. Read more about how to clean your house and outdoor area in the Best Flea Treatments for Cats Buying Guide.

If you are still not able to get rid of the fleas in your house and or property, consider calling a professional exterminator.

Other Flea Treatments

There are other types of flea treatments such as flea collars, topical treatments (treatments that are applied directly on affected areas) and flea sprays. Please read more about this in our Best Flea Collars for Cats Buying Guide and Best Flea Treatments for Cats Buying Guide (overall guide).

Final Thoughts

In this Buying Guide the Adams´shampoos were the clear winners and they are our top recommendations for the best flea shampoos. Be sure to check out the other Buying Guides related to flea prevention and treatment mentioned in this article, since a flea shampoo can never solve the problem of re-infestation. We hope you have found this buying helpful. We welcome your feedback and suggestions on potential improvements, additions or other feedback, so do not hesitate to contact us via email or leave a comment below.

Sources

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/Health_Information/CW_Fleas.cfm

​http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/vmth/small_animal/dermatology/factsheets.cfm

http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/families_and_consumers/getting_rid_of_fleas.shtml - Link no longer active

http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/fleas - Link no longer active.

https://www.adamspetcare.com/smarter-pet-care/frequently-asked-questions

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