Garlic, bad for fleas, but is it bad for cats?

by Robert D. Puls
(Salem, OR, Marion county)



We have a huge flea infestation and I have battled it once before and won, but now ever since the new introduction of a helpless tiny cat saved from the ravages of outdoors, she brought unwelcomed guests. So once again I'm declaring world war II against them, but this time our finances are running low.

Doctor, I need a truthfully honest answer with a sincere effort to save this cat minus the propaganda of selling expensive products. I am looking for natural ways to ward off fleas, and I've heard garlic is one of them. I got mix messages whether or not it's good for the cat, so now I'm coming to you. Will it hurt the kitties if they are fed garlic once a month? Again I need an honest to God answer with a heart to save Tiny and help our other cats with a minimal budget.

I just want to get her fixed and cleaned up before we search for a good solid home for her. The last thing I want to do is take her to the humane society only to tell me she must be put down. She's too sweet for that. It would break this former bouncer's heart.

Dear Robert,

Are you saying that your finances are too low to be able to apply Frontline to your cats once monthly? If you could afford it, this is definitely a safe product to use for your cats and would be the one product I would recommend most strongly for flea control.

In terms of conquering your current cat flea infestation, without the use of products like Frontline, please do not use any flea foggers or flea bombing products. For what can be done around your home, I would strongly recommend washing all washable fabrics in your home and vacuuming often. If you can give Tiny, your new stray cat, a bath with a cat-safe shampoo, that will help as well. But, when bathing her, please do not use a flea shampoo/bath product of any kind, as the chemicals in these can be quite dangerous.

In terms of non-chemical or without use of the more expensive vet-recommended flea control products, I will tell you one story that I know to be absolutely true. I was the veterinarian for a woman that had over 40 cats and went on house calls and treated her cats for years. The home had an outdoor cat enclosure that the cats accessed freely through a cat door, so all 40-something of her cats were exposed to fleas all the time.

All this client ever did to protect her cats from fleas was feeding garlic. Now, I can't say for certain whether she used raw or cooked garlic or garlic powder, or even say how she gave it or how often, but what I can say is that in all those years, I never found a single flea when examining her cats and never saw evidence of cat flea allergy. I also can't say for certain that garlic will be safe for all cats, but in this particular situation, all of my client's cats were very healthy and always cat flea-free.

Best wishes,
Dr. Neely

Return to The Role of Cat Flea Medicine in Feline Allergies.