I have two pet cats, one DSH (domestic short hair) and one DLH (domestic long hair). As outdoor cats both get fleas often, but this recent spate is proving impossible to shift on the long haired one.

This is what I've attempted so far:

  • 8 Oct, used Broadline, a vet-prescribed anti-flea treatment to both cats (this is usually enough)
  • 22 Oct, sprayed both cats and all carpets, bed sheets, curtains, sofas with Bob Martin all-in-one flea spray
  • 8 Nov, re-applied Broadline and fumigated the entire flat with 3x Bob Martin flea bombs, bought brand new duvet and pillow cases
  • 20 Nov, re-sprayed both cats and the entire flat with the all-in-one flea spray

Along with all this, I'm also vacuuming the entire flat every day or two.

Nothing seems to shift the fleas living on the cat. I found dead fleas everywhere after fumigating, and they seemed to subside on the cat, but never fully went away, and it's getting quite worrying: she's constantly twitching her tail (they seem to be congregating around her genitalia) and is very restless (finding it hard to rest due to the un-comfort), and has scratched and bitten herself loads trying to clear them - her skin under her fur is all scabby and sore. She hates being brushed, but I'm trying the best I can to brush her as often as possible as best I can.

I've just purchased two flea traps and another three flea bombs, and the cat is booked in at the vets on Friday to see what they say, but I was wondering if there was anything anyone here could recommend? I'm not sure if I'm paranoid, but I feel like every time I use de-flea treatments on her she goes a little bit "crazy", with nervous ticks and skittish behaviour - could the treatments be poisoning her and making her ill? I'm not going over the recommended 4-weeks between Broadline treatments, but I am supplementing them with the spray.

It's genuinely distressing and heartbreaking to see her suffer from these.

I am located in the UK.

  • 2
    The cat is probably frequenting a source outside. I had this problem with my cat in his second year with us. I would comb them out, and after I finished, he would go outside. An hour later, he would come back re-infested. Stronghold treatment and flea sprays killed them, and the source was fairly quickly depleted.
    – Mick
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 16:47
  • I have a related question: Does bleach kill flea eggs?
    – Marc.2377
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 18:04
  • I'm dealing with the same issue with my two cats. 1 long hair and 1 short hair thanks for all the help. Commented Jun 27, 2020 at 13:08

4 Answers 4


Some breeds of fleas are more resistant to some treatments than others. It may be a case of needing to switch to a different flea treatment, which is something the vet can advise you on.

Fleas on a long-haired cat are a PITA to get rid of, as I know from personal experience (thanks, ex-flatmate!!), partly because there is more fur for them to hide in and also because it's difficult to get the treatment properly on to the skin of long-hairs (especially if they have a double coat).

Another factor to consider is that the treatments will only kill off live fleas - the eggs won't be affected and can stay dormant for up to three months, so it will be at least that long before you can be sure that the infestation is gone.

With your cats being outdoor-kitties you'll also want to be keeping up monthly flea treatments on them anyway, as this can help prevent future infestations.

One option for the long-hair would be to give them a bath using a suitable flea-shampoo (this may be in place of the normal flea treatment or with it - a vet will advise.) This has the advantages of giving full coverage, and many are designed to help soothe the skin as well, so you may be able to reduce the irritation (and the subsequent scratching/biting) and have a happier kitty.

This or this might be the sort of thing you are looking for, or your vet may prescribe a medicated shampoo.

Of course, depending on the cat, giving them a bath might be a task fit to be one of Hercules's labors, as if they decide to object vigorously then the cat, you, and basically anything in the vicinity are going to get soaked. Don't forget to trim kitty's claws before you try and bathe them - this will lessen the chances of you getting nastily scratched if they go into a panic.

While there is no way to guarantee that bathing a cat will go smoothly, there is an excellent guide on wikihow here that gives you the best chance.

Given you're specifically looking to deal with fleas here, I would recommend running a good flea comb through the cat's coat both before and after the bathing process (make sure to wash the comb in between).


It looks to me like you're already off to a pretty good start with the topical Broadline treatment and with fumigating your house. I'm not convinced the "pesticide-free all-in-one flea spray" you're using is really doing anything, though, but I haven't tried it myself.

As motosubatsu notes, washing your cat with a flea shampoo might help. Since you say you'll be taking your cat to see a vet anyway, I'd recommend asking them to prescribe a suitable medicated shampoo instead of resorting to over-the-counter products of questionable effectiveness.

Also note that washing your cat within a few days after applying a topical anti-flea treatment like Frontline / Broadline is not recommended, since it may reduce the effectiveness of the treatment. For example, the EPAR for Broadline says:

No data on the effect of bathing/shampooing on the efficacy of the veterinary medicinal product in cats is available. However, brief contact of the animal with water on one or two occasions within the month following application is unlikely to significantly reduce its efficacy. As a precaution, it is not recommended to bathe animals within 2 days after topical treatment.

Note that bathing cats (just like feeding them pills or making them do anything else they don't like) is a game of skill. Your vet may be able to show you the proper technique, so you don't have to learn it by trial and error. Of course, the personality of the cat also matters: some cats are quite tolerant of being bathed, others will literally fight you tooth and claw.

(What worked when I had to wash my own Siberian was setting him in the bathroom sink facing left and holding him there with my left hand's index finger and thumb gently but firmly around his neck while using my right hand to bathe him with warm water from the tap. Do make sure the water really is nice and warm; nobody likes a cold shower, cats least of all. And whatever you do, don't make the mistake of taking your shirt off to keep it from getting wet. Trust me, a wet shirt is far preferable to having a scared and angry cat climb its way straight up the bare skin on your back. Ouch. At least I never tried that technique twice.)

Another option to consider would be trimming your cat's hair (or, perhaps better, having a professional pet groomer do it). Not all the way down to the skin, mind you, but just enough to make the remaining hair easier to clean.

Since you say that the treatments you've already applied are working for your short-haired cat, but not for the long-haired one, temporarily making the long-haired cat's hair shorter would seem like a reasonable approach to try. Especially so if, as you say, your cat "hates being brushed". Long-haired cats really should have their hair regularly groomed to keep it clean and free of tangles, anyway. If yours doesn't like that, whether it's due to irritation caused by the fleas or for other reasons, trimming their hair might be worth considering.

Again, of course, I'd suggest talking with your vet about all the treatment options you're considering first.

As for your observation of "nervous ticks and skittish behaviour", that could indeed be a side effect of the Broadline treatment, especially if the cat managed to lick off (and thus ingest) some of the product from its hair. The Broadline EPAR linked above says, in section 4.5 ("special precautions for use"; emphasis mine):

It is important to apply the veterinary medicinal product to a skin area where the cat cannot lick it off: on the neck, in between shoulders. Avoid animals licking each other following treatment.

Oral ingestion of the veterinary medicinal product resulted in common to uncommon vomiting, hyper-salivation and/or in transient neurological signs such as ataxia, disorientation, apathy and pupil dilation in safety studies. Muscle tremors have been reported in very rare cases based on post marketing safety experience. These signs usually resolve spontaneously within 24 hours. On very rare occasions, symptomatic treatment can be required.

That certainly does seem to match the symptoms you've observed. While the most important way to avoid these symptoms is to do your best to keep your cats from licking the Frontline / Broadline off their own or each other's fur, you could also ask your vet to try prescribing them some other anti-flea treatment that might be better tolerated. Different drugs have different side effects, and just like people, some cats may simply be more sensitive to some drugs than others.

On the other hand, if you can't find any other treatment that is both effective and free of side effects, you may have to just weigh the harm from the side effects against the harm from allowing the flea infestation to persist. Nobody likes to see their pet suffer any kind of bad effects from medical treatment, but suffering from fleas or other parasites isn't pleasant, either. Just like with medicine for people, it's not really a question of whether there are any side effects, but of whether the side effects are worse than the illness the drug is treating.

You should also make sure that your cat isn't getting reinfected with fleas from around your home. The flea bombs and traps are a good start, as is regularly vacuuming your house. (Do remember to take out the vacuum bags regularly, too, to prevent them from acting as flea hatcheries.) I'd also recommend regularly washing (not just spraying) any clothes and bedding that might harbor flea eggs and larvae. Machine washing, especially if followed by tumble drying, should do a good job of killing any fleas and their eggs.

The Flea Science site I linked to above also recommends using an insect growth regulator spray or fumigation product, which should prevent any remaining flea eggs and larvae in your house from maturing into adult fleas, and thus provides long-term protection against the infestation re-emerging.

Pyriproxyfen based IGR products can also be used for outdoor flea control, if you suspect that your cats are picking up fleas from your yard. Typically, you'd want to target the treatment to any shaded spots, e.g. under your porch, that your cats like to hide in. Of course, if your cats roam widely, you may not be able to effectively treat all the spots where they may be picking up fleas.

For long term flea control you may also want to consider installing a dehumidifier in your home. Fleas need a warm and moist environment to grow and survive, and below 50% relative humidity their eggs and larvae will desiccate and die. Unfortunately they like to hide in places, like inside carpets or bedding and under your cats' hair, where the local humidity is higher. Still, if you can keep the ambient humidity in your home consistently well below 50%, that should at least reduce the number of places where flea eggs and larvae can survive.


I firmly believe from my experiences that the "nervous ticks and skittish behaviour", after flea treating your cat/cats is simply their reaction to the fleas scampering all over their bodies to get away from the poison. I have seen my 4 cats doing the same thing and I finally learned that it was my cue to grab the flea comb and and a wet paper towel to grab the little devils in before they can pop off. Frankly, I would jump and squirm too in the same situation.


Advantage is the best flea repellant. It goes to the fleas receptors, not your cats'. Don't use flea shampoo, flea collars(😮) or any product from the supermarket. There are testimonies of peoples' pets dying two weeks after a flea collar was worn. Just stay away from all OTC pet products at a regular store. Advantage is safe, I use it, but it's not cheap. Twenty dollars per vial is what I pay. It can't be bought at a regular supermarket or drugstore. You have to go through a vet, or a pet store.

  • 2
    some of this information is dependent on where you live,like the cost and if you need a precription for it. Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 18:37
  • 1
    Please make your answer suitable to OP's location. As is, it's a ramble without sources. Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 10:41

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