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Does Vacuuming Kill Fleas on Cats? Vet-Reviewed Facts & Advice

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	Dr. Athena Gaffud Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Athena Gaffud

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are beautiful creatures, but the fact that they have bodies full of fur cannot be ignored. Some have short hair that rarely needs to be brushed, while others must be brushed daily. No matter the cat’s fur type, we can all agree that petting them is always comforting! However, one thing that can get in the way of the enjoyment and comfort of petting your kitty cat is an infestation of fleas. Fortunately, there are many ways to combat fleas. But does vacuuming work? Scientists have done a few studies, and yes, vacuuming can help kill fleas! Here’s what you should know.

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What the Science Says About Vacuuming and Fleas

Researchers at Ohio State University conducted experiments to find out just how effective vacuuming is when it comes to killing and getting rid of fleas. As it turns out, Ctenocephalides felis, the most common type of flea that affects dogs, cats, and humans, doesn’t stand up well to the vacuum. In fact, the scientists who conducted the study have determined that vacuuming can kill these fleas at all life stages.

Vacuuming seems to have a 96% success rate when it comes to killing adult fleas and a 100% success rate when it comes to killing younger fleas. These scientists believe that the air currents, brushes, and fans within a vacuum work together to destroy fleas and eggs. The lead scientist made clear that they did no post-mortem studies on the fleas that they experimented on, but they indicated that the physical abuse that the fleas underwent in the vacuum is what caused their deaths.

This household cleaning machine is an effective tool in terms of flea control. It’s also important to note that these scientists determined that the type of vacuum does not matter; they should all be effective when used as flea exterminators.

Killing Fleas on Cats With Vacuums

Gray cat being vacuumed
Image Credit: KAleksandr0909, Shutterstock

You can get your cat used to being vacuumed with the extension hose or other attachment of your vacuum if you have one. Once they are used to it, you can “vacuum” your kitty every day if you want to. You can also invest in a special extension designed to attach to vacuums that works like a suctioning comb or brush.

But you don’t have to literally vacuum your cat to help control fleas. Vacuuming your home and keeping your furry companion’s bedding clean will go a long way in warding off flea infestations. Some cats take to the sound and sensation of vacuuming well, while others want nothing to do with it.

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Understanding a Flea’s Life Cycle

Most types of fleas, including the ones that most commonly affect humans and cats, have four distinctive life cycles: egg, larvae, pupae, and adult. A flea’s life cycle can progress quickly and may be finished in as little as a couple of weeks when environmental conditions are optimal. In tough environmental conditions, the life cycle can last years. This is how it generally works:

  • The Egg Stage — Adult fleas feed on the blood of a cat and then proceed to lay eggs on their body, their bedding, and anywhere else that they may go within the house. Just walking around on the carpet can result in eggs being laid/or dropped. Once laid, the eggs will sit in place until it is time to hatch. Depending on environmental conditions, these eggs can hatch within 10 days.
  • The Larvae Stage — Once an egg hatches, the insect is in the stage of life called the larvae stage. Flea larvae can move about and feed on blood and “flea dirt,” which is essentially flea feces. The larvae spend about 20 days feeding on flea dirt and blood before spinning themselves into a comfortable and safeguarding cocoon and transitioning into the pupae stage of life.
  • The Pupae Stage — Pupae lay in wait for the perfect opportunity to hatch as adult fleas. The cocoons that pupae rest in are designed to withstand all kinds of threats, including insecticides and repellents, so many treatments like flea bombs are not effective on them. Pupae will lie in wait, with the help of their cocoons, for as long as it takes to become adults. They are patient for optimal environmental conditions.
  • The Adult Stage — When the weather is right and food hosts are readily available, the pupae’s cocoons will hatch, and they will emerge as adult fleas. Interestingly, fleas can detect movement and body heat to identify when there is a good source nearby, so they know when it’s time to get out of the cocoon. Females will latch onto a host and start feeding within just a few hours. Soon after, they will mate and then begin laying eggs.

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Other Effective Flea Treatment Options for Cats

applying flea treatment to cat
Image Credit: Csaba Deli, Shutterstock

While vacuuming is a promising tool for flea control, you may be wondering if you can include other treatment options into your regimen to ensure that you never have to deal with a serious flea infestation. There are a few other things that you can do to help keep fleas under control in your household. Here are effective options to consider:

  • Administer a monthly vet-approved flea-and-tick treatment. It’s effective, easy to use, and not as risky as flea collars when it comes to insecticide exposure in felines.
  • Treat bedding, furniture, and carpet with a pet-safe flea-and-tick product. Get one that will kill adult fleas, larvae, eggs, and even ticks and mosquitos. It also shouldn’t stain and can be used outdoors to treat lawns, kennels, and patios.
  • Try mixing one part apple cider vinegar and one part water in a reusable spray bottle and spray their bedding a couple of times a week. Some cat owners spray their furniture and animal bedding daily. This should help repel fleas from hanging out on your feline.
  • Like apple cider vinegar, lemon juice may not kill fleas, but it seems to drive them away. Cut a lemon into four pieces, then boil it in water for about 10 minutes. Let the mixture sit overnight on your stove. In the morning, strain the mixture, then pour it into a reusable spray bottle. Use the spray on any piece of furniture and bedding where your kitty hangs out.


The Bottom Line

Vacuuming can help eradicate fleas during all life cycles, so it’s a good idea to make vacuuming a daily priority as a cat owner. There are a few other things that you can do to help keep fleas under control, but the vacuum seems to be the champion because it can kill all four life cycles of the flea. It’s always a good idea to first talk to your veterinarian to create an effective flea-control plan for your household.

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Featured Image Credit: Mr_Mrs_Marcha, Shutterstock