Just like all cats, Maine Coons can get fleas – even those who never go outside. Don’t despair as there are many ways to deal with these pesky parasites.
We explain the best treatments to remove and prevent fleas on Maine Coons and highlight those to avoid at all costs.
We’ll help you to find the safest Maine Coon flea treatment to end your cat’s discomfort and prevent reinfestation for good.
How to get rid of fleas on a Maine Coon cat
Briefly, ridding a cat or kitten of fleas involves three important steps. We’ll look at these in more detail in a moment:
- Remove the fleas, any larvae, and eggs from your cat or kitten
- Apply an age-appropriate treatment to prevent further infestations
- Thoroughly clean cat beds, blankets, carpets and soft furnishings in your home where fleas, larvae, and eggs could be lurking
Maine Coon flea removal and prevention
Kittens and their mother
Carefully remove as many visible fleas as possible with your fingers and place them in hot soapy water to kill them. If you use tweezers be very careful not to nip your kitten’s skin.
Then, in a very warm room, gently wet the kitten’s body and legs with warm water.
Any remaining fleas should swarm toward the dry areas. Quickly pick these off and put them in the cup of hot soapy water.
Don’t prolong this process for more than a couple of minutes or you run the risk of distressing the kitten.
Next, carefully go through the kitten’s damp fur with a flea comb to find fleas that have avoided you so far.
Rinse the comb carefully after each stroke to remove any trapped eggs and larvae. Again, keep this short and sweet so you don’t stress the kitten.
Use a soft towel to thoroughly dry the kitten off once you’ve finished and place it in a clean, warm area to recover. Do not put it back with untreated kittens or cats.
You will need to repeat the process for each kitten and the mum and check them all every day to ensure all fleas have been successfully removed.
It’s important to use a fine-tooth flea comb with metal teeth that won’t bend to let the fleas through (follow the link to my recommendation on Amazon.)
Pregnant Maine Coon cats and fleas
Keep a pregnant Maine Coon free of fleas or she will infest her kittens as soon as they are born.
Remove visible fleas with your fingers, and comb out the rest. Bathe her if she’ll allow you to with a gentle shampoo such as Natural Organic Oatmeal Shampoo.
Clean all of her bedding before she sleeps on it again. Comb your cat carefully to ensure all fleas are gone.
Fleas should be combed out with a fine-tooth comb. Keep this up for several days until yo find none.
A bath can drown fleas, so use this method if your cat will let you! You don’t need a special shampoo – the one recommended above is perfect, or our complete guide to Maine Coon shampoos offers many more ideas.
A good tip is to lather up a ring of shampoo around your cat’s neck to stop fleas heading for its face and then submerge its body in a comfortably warm bath. The fleas should all drown.
Common methods of preventing fleas
There are various ways to prevent fleas from infesting your Maine Coon. Never use any of these on a kitten without confirming with your vet which is best and at what age.
Topical flea treatments are generally applied to the skin at the back of your cat’s neck once per month.
Once applied, the medication travels through the cat’s circulatory system. It kills fleas, larvae, and unhatched eggs, and most brands also kill ticks.
Topical flea treatments also repel fleas so your pet doesn’t have to receive a bite for it to work.
Each application works for one month and the dose is calculated according to your cat’s weight. Always buy this from a vet to certain it is suitable.
It’s important to keep up with the monthly applications to prevent fleas permanently.
Oral flea control
Oral flea control products are given to your cat by mouth to kill fleas. They vary from those to be taken monthly and those taken every 3 months.
The main difference is that oral treatments only kill fleas as they bite.
Flea collars apply a treatment to your cat’s coat that kills fleas. If you have a cat that’s a regular Houdini and escapes from its collar o a regular basis these are not a great idea.
Also, any collar used on a cat must be quick release for safety reasons.
This must be carefully sprayed on your cat’s skin and coat. This method is quite outdated and is much less effective than other flea prevention treatments.
Unless your vet has prescribed one of these as safe, be very wary about using it.
More natural flea treatments for Maine Coons
Many of the flea treatments mentioned above contain pesticides. These can leave a residue on your cat’s fur for weeks.
It may be healthier to choose a natural flea prevention method that presents a minimum risk to your cat and you.
The safest way to keep fleas away is:
- Comb your cat regularly with a flea comb and dip the comb in water throughout to wash off and drown any trapped fleas
- Wash your cat’s bedding regularly
- Vacuum regularly, particularly the edges of rooms
- Bathe your cat if necessary with a regular gentle shampoo such as Natural Organic Oatmeal Shampoo.
How to remove fleas from your home
If your cat has a particularly bad infestation, it’s best to give your home a thorough clean. Otherwise, any lurking fleas will hop back onto your cat and any eggs they have laid will soon hatch.
Vacuum all carpets, rugs, and upholstery and then empty the vacuum outside to ensure no escapees get back into your house.
A steam cleaner will kill fleas so use it if you have one. Use it on all carpets, curtains, upholstery and soft furnishings.
Disinfect all washable floors. Don’t forget all those little areas where your cat loves to hide.
There are certain powders you can sprinkle, leave to work and then vacuum up but everyone, cats included has to stay out of each room until treatment is complete.
Why go to the trouble of cleaning?
If you keep your cat flea-free with combing it could still get fleas from you your home. Here’s how:
A Flea’s Life Cycle
1. Female flea lays eggs
A female flea feeds from the blood of a host which triggers her to lay eggs.
2. Egg hatching
Larvae hatch from the eggs after a couple of days and feed on the feces of adult fleas as this contains pre-digested blood.
3. Pupae stage
After about 2 weeks, the larvae spin a cocoon around themselves which protects them as they develop into adult fleas. This is also known as the pupae stage.
The adult flea will only emerge under the right conditions and can remain dormant for months if necessary.
The usual trigger for emergence is when they sense that a suitable host is within reach.
4. Adult flea emerges
Once the pupae detect a suitable host is within reach, the adult flea emerges and the life cycle repeats.
Signs of fleas on a Maine Coon
It’s quite obvious when a cat has fleas. Here are the common signs:
- It will scratch itself incessantly – you will hear this too
- You’ll notice it gnawing at certain spots
- There will be black dots (flea dirt) visible in its fur
- Sore patches of skin will develop
- Reddish-brown fleas might be spotted crawling on is fur
- Your cat will be agitated and restless
You will see and hear it constantly scratching.
How Maine Coon cats get fleas
Any cat can get fleas. They don’t care how furry their host is as long as they have an ample blood supply.
You may wonder how your Maine Coon caught fleas in the first place, especially if it’s an indoor cat.
Here are a few common ways:
- Fleas can jump indoors through open doors, windows, and screens. If a passing cat sheds fleas on your land it is possible that they will make their way into your home and infect your cat.
- It is possible for human visitors to bring fleas to your home to infest your cat as soon as the opportunity arises.
- If a visitor brings a dog that has fleas, they could jump off and take up residence on your cat. Fleas aren’t fussy, any dog, cat or even human will do.
- Fleas in the pupae stage can lay dormant for months and are triggered to hatch by movement or heat from a suitable host. If you have recently treated your cat for fleas there may still be pupae in your carpets. Also, if you move into a new home it’s possible for pupae to be laying in wait in the carpets.
- Rodents carry fleas and if one enters your home it may leave some behind.
Fleas are parasitic insects that need blood from a host such as a cat for survival.
They are approximately one-tenth of an inch (2.5 mm) long and can be light or dark reddish-brown in color, depending on whether they have eaten or not.
They have strong back legs and can jump up to 50 times their body length – that’s 5 inches (125 mm)!
Using essential oils as a flea treatment
Essential oils are recommended by some as a safe flea treatment. Yet many essential oils are believed to be toxic to cats, even when diluted.
Before you use any essential oils on your cat, please confirm with your vet that it is safe to do so.
I have found so many contradictory reports about which oils are and are not safe that I feel it impossible to know if any essential oil is 100% safe to use on cats.
This is enough for me to never chance using it on any of mine. It just isn’t worth the risk.
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) warn against the use of essential oils to treat cat fleas.
How do you get rid of fleas on a Maine Coon cat? – Conclusion
There are several ways to rid Maine Coon cats and kittens of fleas. Just make sure you use the correct method according to your cat’s age and condition.
Consult your vet with regard to the most suitable flea prevention treatments.
You may prefer to avoid unnatural treatments and use regular grooming to keep fleas under control.