Cat reacts badly to topical cat flea medications

by Vicki

Hi! I'm wondering if there is anything I can do to make flea prevention easier on my cat Willa. I've tried Frontline, Advantage, and Revolution; I've settled on Frontline for Cats, which I apply once a month, as the mildest. But every cat flea medication I've tried seems to cause skin irritation in the place where it is applied (at the back of my cat's neck).

Nearly every month, my kitty scratches that spot until the fur is gone, in a patch about the size of a dime, and her skin is oozing blood. She also acts like she doesn't feel well for a day after the treatment.

Both of my cats are allowed to go outdoors into their special fenced yard (we installed a Purrfect Fence, which has been great), and we are in the South, so they are definitely exposed to cat fleas and ticks. Are there any strategies I can use when applying the Frontline to make it less irritating? Should I stop using it, and if so, what else can I do to keep her safe? My vet is great, but she's stumped by this.


Dear Vicki,

Personally, I have never seen this problem in cats being treated with Frontline Plus for Cats. I would have suggested that you try a different brand, but seeing as you have already done so, I only have a few suggestions for your applying cat flea medicine to your kitty every month.

When applying a topical cat flea medication, you should part the cat’s hair very well and apply the liquid directly to the cat’s skin. This is both so the cat medication gets absorbed into the pores more quickly and effectively, and also to provide minimal irritation to your kitty, as having a wet patch of cat fur can be annoying to some cats and can cause licking and scratching behaviors.

Also, try applying the cat flea medication to other areas around your kitty’s head, such as higher or lower on her neck, up between her ears, or even between her shoulder blades. If you can experiment with areas your cat can and can’t reach, you may be able to better determine the best spot to apply the medication where your kitty will leave it alone until it dries.

Best wishes,
Dr. Neely

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