ExcitedCats is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

6 Best Oral Flea Treatments for Cats in 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

woman hand giving to the cat special pills_Veera_shutterstockFleas are an irritant for cats. They cause itching, scratching, and they can lead to flaking and dry skin. As well as being a major irritant, fleas can make your cat seriously ill and can even prove fatal.

They can cause dermatitis and amnesia, and fleas can carry Bartonella and Yersinia pestis which, in turn, transmit cat scratch fever and the plague. These can even cause illness to other furred members of the household, as well as their human owners. Oral flea treatments can be highly effective and they do not require that you avoid parts of your cat for 24 hours like spot-on treatments. There are over the counter as well as prescription solutions, and there are flea treatments from well-respected brands including Frontline and Bayer.

In our reviews of 6 of the best oral flea treatment for cats, below, we can help you identify the treatment that is best for your cats as well as those that can help you and your home become flea-free.

Cat ball divider 1A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Comfortis Chewable Tablets Comfortis Chewable Tablets
  • Feature iconStrong
  • Feature iconFor kittens over 14 weeks
  • Feature iconWorks within 30 minutes
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Capstar Flea Tablets for Cats Capstar Flea Tablets for Cats
  • Feature iconCheap
  • Feature iconKills more than 90% of adult fleas
  • Feature iconFor kittens over 4 weeks
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Program 10021 Flea Control Green Program 10021 Flea Control Green
  • Feature iconOral solution
  • Feature icon6 months’ supply
  • Feature iconRenders eggs sterile
  • SENTRY 469024 Capguard Oral Flea Control Medication SENTRY 469024 Capguard Oral Flea Control Medication
  • Feature iconKills adult fleas
  • Feature iconWorks on dogs and cats
  • Feature iconWorks in 30 minutes
  • Dog & Cat MD QuickTabs Nitenpyram Flea Treatment Dog & Cat MD QuickTabs Nitenpyram Flea Treatment
  • Feature iconContains 6 tablets
  • Feature iconSmall and easy to swallow
  • Feature iconKills adult fleas within 30 minutes
  • 6 Best Oral Flea Treatments for Cats – Reviews 2021

    1. Comfortis Chewable Tablets – Best Overall

    1Comfortis Chewable Tablets for Dogs

    Comfortis Chewable Tablets are designed to be palatable. They are chewable and easy to handle, and they are designed for small breed dogs as well as cats. Comfortis claims that their flea treatment kills fleas and prevents reinfestation for a period of up to a month, which is about average. The tablets are meant to be given with food. This not only helps ensure better delivery of the ingredients, it can also help prevent your cat from vomiting the tablet back up.

    The Comfortis Chewable tablets are strong and, as a result, some cats struggle to keep the tablets down after swallowing. Some owners have found that the best solution is to break the large tablets in half and feed them a few hours apart. The size of the tablet can also be an issue, as some cats will not be able to swallow it whole.

    Pros
    • Strong
    • Start working within 30 minutes
    • Safe for kittens over 14 weeks
    Cons
    • Only kills fleas
    • Doesn’t work on eggs or larvae
    thematic break

    2. Capstar Flea Tablets for Cats – Best Value

    2Capstar Flea Tablets for Cats

    Capstar Flea Tablets for Cats are among the best oral flea treatment for cats for the money. They are inexpensive, they start working within 30 minutes, and they can also be fed in food or given directly to the cat. The tablets are suitable for cats aged over 4 weeks, which means that they work on younger cats than most other flea treatments.

    Capstar is inexpensive, but the active drug, nitenpyram, kills over 90% of adult fleas. However, it only works for 24 hours. The tablet can be given every day if the fleas reinfest the cat, but this becomes inconvenient and expensive. Although it doesn’t offer long-term treatment, Capstar Flea Tablets for Cats enable you to kill off an infestation and get ahead of the problem, before changing over to a longer-term flea control drug.

    Pros
    • Kills more than 90% of adult fleas
    • Cheap
    • Suitable for kittens over 4 weeks
    Cons
    • Only work for 24 hours
    • Large tablets
    thematic break

    3. Program Flea Control Green – Premium Choice

    3Program Green for Cats

    Program 10021 Flea Control Green oral ampoules are expensive, but they are meant for use with large cats, so they actually work out cheaper than some alternatives and can provide a solution where traditional tablets will not suffice.

    The solution kills adult fleas and renders eggs sterile, which prevents new fleas from being born on your cat. A single pack contains 6 ampoules, which should be given monthly for 6 months. This is another way in which Program 10021 Flea Control Green tablets actually work out as a good value. Program 10021 Flea Control Green is ampoules of oral solution, rather than tablets. This means that the liquid can be given directly, added to food, or used with some treaty morsel that will help convince them to take the medicine.

    While an oral solution is a good option for some cats, other owners may find it easier to give traditional tablets.

    Pros
    • 6 months’ supply
    • Renders eggs sterile
    • Oral solution
    Cons
    • Oral solution may not be ideal for all cats
    • Initially expensive
    thematic break

    4. SENTRY Capguard Oral Flea Control Medication

    4SENTRY Capguard

    Sentry 469024 Capguard Oral Flea Control Medication are oral tablets that contain the primary ingredient, nitenpyram, and the packet contains 6 tablets. This is not a long-term fix.

    It kills adult fleas within 30 minutes of giving the tablet to your cat, and it will prove 90% effective, or more. However, nitenpyram tablets only kill adult fleas. They do not work to kill eggs or make them infertile. As such, you should use this type of treatment for immediate relief, and then give a monthly flea treatment to prevent eggs from hatching and taking over.

    Pros
    • Kills adult fleas
    • Works on dogs and cats
    • Starts working in 30 minutes
    Cons
    • Only works for 24 hours
    thematic break

    5. Dog & Cat MD QuickTabs Nitenpyram Flea Treatment

    5Dog & Cat MD Maximum Defense

    Dog & Cat MD QuickTabs Nitenpryam Flea Treatment is another nitenpyram-based flea treatment. These will work on dogs and cats and a pack includes 6 tablets. The tablets work within 30 minutes after giving them, and unlike a lot of the flea treatments on the market, the tablets are quite small and easy to persuade your cat to swallow. The tablets do not provide ongoing relief. They kill adult fleas almost immediately, but they do not kill flea eggs or larvae, which means that your cat can become infected again very easily.

    These look and contain the same ingredients as Capstar, but they have not proven as effective in the management of feline flea infestations.

    Pros
    • Kills adult fleas within 30 minutes
    • Small and easy to swallow
    • Contains 6 tablets
    Cons
    • Doesn’t kill eggs or larvae
    thematic break

    6. Capstar 004CG-61011 Fast-Acting Oral Flea Treatment

    6Capstar Fast-Acting Oral Flea

    Capstar 004CG-61011 Fast-Acting Oral Flea Treatment tablets are nitenpyram-based oral tablets. They kill adult fleas and start working in as little as 30 minutes. The company states that almost all adult fleas will die after using these tablets. Because they do not work to kill flea eggs or larvae, and they don’t prevent new fleas, they can do a very effective job at clearing an infestation but should be combined with something longer-term and that will control flea eggs.

    A packet contains 6 tablets, and if your cat shows signs of being reinfected, you can offer another tablet after 24 hours. As such, you should have enough of a supply to guarantee a week of flea-free feline living.

    Pros
    • 6 tablets
    • Kills almost all adult fleas
    Cons
    • Only work for 24 hours
    • Don’t kill eggs and larvae
    thematic break

    Buyer’s Guide

    Fleas are tiny parasites that feed on human and animal blood. They are especially prevalent on household pets like dogs and cats, and if you don’t treat an infestation quickly, they become increasingly difficult to treat. Symptoms of a flea outbreak include itching and scratching, chewing their skin, and even shaking. You can also look for signs of bites and when you see them and choose between topical and oral solutions to treat fleas.

    Flea Symptoms

    The most obvious symptom of your cat having fleas is that they itch and scratch their skin. As the flea bites and extracts blood, it makes the cat’s skin itch, which leads to scratching and chewing. It may also leave red marks or welts on the cat’s skin. Regular and prolonged itching and chewing can lead to loss of hair and swelling.

    Fleas Spread Illness

    Fleas are an irritant and can cause secondary symptoms and infections.

    They can also cause and spread diseases, such as the following:
    • Tapeworms – Tapeworms attach themselves to the intestine before feeding off the host and reproducing. They are commonly recognized by the egg packets that leave the cat’s body via the anus and look like grains of rice. Fleas carry the eggs and larvae from one subject to another. Killing and preventing fleas is the best way to prevent tapeworms from being carried from one host to another.
    • Flea Allergy Dermatitis –Also known as FAD, this is an itchy skin disease that is caused by an allergy to flea bites. It can be highly uncomfortable and lead to your cat scratching itself down to blood. Really sensitive cats can have a negative reaction to just a single flea.
    • Feline Infectious Anemia – Anemia is a low blood count, and cats can suffer feline infectious anemia, whereby a small parasite is passed from one cat to another and the immune system attacks the cat’s own blood cells because it believes that its host is under attack.
    • Cat Scratch Fever – Carrion’s Disease is an infection that will impact 40% of cats at some time during their lives. It is contracted when a cat cleans themselves and eats infected flea feces. It leads to fever, swollen lymph nodes, red eyes, vomiting, and more.

    Fleas are a major problem for cats, beyond being a bit of an itchy irritation. If you recognize flea infestation in your cat, you should take action as soon as possible to eradicate the fleas and ensure your cat remains healthy and protected. Fleas will reinfest your cat, so you need to check the flea control that you use and determine how often you need to reapply the medication.

    Why Choose Oral Flea Treatment?

    Topical flea treatments, sometimes also referred to as spot-on treatments, are those that come in small ampoules and you squeeze the liquid between the cat’s shoulder blades. They can leave a sticky residue, you need to prevent your cat and other animals from ingesting the liquid. If your cat is allergic to the flea treatment, it can leave them in worse condition than the fleas.

    Oral treatment, which can take the form of oral solution or tablets, negate the need to keep other cats away from the treated feline and may prevent contact dermatitis caused by flea treatment.

    • Tablets – Cats are notorious for refusing to swallow pills, but some take to it more easily than others. You can buy pill pockets, which are small treats with space for the tablet. Alternatively, you can wrap a tablet in a small morsel of food or a small cat treat. You can also get a pill applicator which allows you to gently fire the tablet down the cat’s throat. Smaller pills tend to be easier to get down your cat, but larger ones are usually stronger.
    • Oral Solution – An oral solution is a liquid. It comes in an ampoule, and this can be added to food or cat treats. The problem with this solution is that you can’t be certain of exactly how much of the liquid your cat has ingested and how much might be sat on the floor or the edge of the bowl.
    veterinarian feeds the cat using a syringe_frantic00_shutterstock
    Credit: frantic00, Shutterstock

    4 Tips for Giving Your Cat Pills or Tablets

    Unless recommended by your vet, you should never grind or crush pills before giving them to your cat. Ground pills can taste bitter, which means that your cat will be able to tell there is something alien in their food. It also means that your cat may not get all of the medication. Instead, try the following tips to help get tablets down your cat’s throat.

    1 – Protect Yourself

    Learn how to wrap your cat in a towel, like a baby in swaddling clothes. The towel will prevent your cat from being able to use their feet and claws. It can save your arm and it means that your cat won’t be able to get away until you want them to.

    2 – Use A Pill Popper

    A pill popper looks like a syringe. You pop the pill in the end, which goes towards the cat’s throat, and then you push the syringe quickly so that the pill hits the cat’s throat. This will set off your cat’s gag reflex and cause him or her to swallow. They will probably lick their lips a few times afterward, but the pill should be all the way down by that point.

    3 – Hide The Tablet in Food

    It’s an age-old trick, but one that works in most cases. Most of us have tales of cats that could detect pills from ten feet away and avoid even the tastiest treat, or those that eat the treat and spit out the pill. For the most part, however, you can push a tablet into a cat treat and feed it successfully. Always ensure that the food you choose is safe for your cat to eat.

    4 – Use A Pill Pocket

    A pill pocket works on the same basic principle as stuffing a pill into food manually. These are small treats that have a gap, or pocket, in which you can place the pill and give it to your cat. These can prove very effective, but some flea pills are extremely large and may not fit in all pill pockets without some gentle persuasion.

    Types of Treatment
    • Instant Relief – Instant relief pills typically kill adult fleas, not the eggs. The problem with this is that the fleas will have already laid eggs, and these eggs will hatch and leave your cat with another infestation, even 24 hours after you have treated them. However, this initial treatment is preferred for cats with a serious infestation or if your cat is having a bad reaction to flea bites. This is because instant relief pills will usually get rid of 95% of adult fleas and can be given again 24 hours later.
    • Monthly Protection – In contrast, a lot of tablets and liquids are given monthly. They not only kill some adult fleas but attempt to kill eggs and larvae, too. Once the adult fleas die, it means that your cat will not pick up any more fleas until they come into contact with them in the wild or from another animal.

    yarn ball dividerConclusion

    Flea treatment comes in the shape of topical or pills. Topical treatment is not ideal for all cat owners or cats, which leaves oral medication, in the shape of tablets or oral liquid. These can be more challenging to feed to some cats, but they do not leave a sticky or oily residue.

    Quick-relief tablets kill the vast majority of adult fleas but they do not kill eggs. Monthly treatment kills eggs and larvae. Combining these two methods can prove an effective way to start flea treatment and can be followed up with a monthly treatment regimen.

    While compiling our reviews of flea treatments for cats, we found the Comfortis chewable tablets to be relatively easy to give to cats and effective at combating fleas. Capstar flea tablets are really affordable and they can help to kill off 95% of adult fleas on your cat and they start working within 30 minutes.

    thematic break

    Featured image credit: Veera, Shutterstock