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Pet World: Natural ways to get rid of fleas on cats

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

Do you have any homemade information to make for fleas. I have four cats so I need to use the flea medication on them which is a nightmare to put on them because they can smell it a mile away. I would like to spray something that is not toxic to them or my fish and birds also. They do not go out, so I am assuming the fleas come in thru the screens. Thank you for any advice you can give me.

–Meg, Coram, New York

Dear Meg,

There are a variety of flea sprays available for cats. If you search for “flea sprays for cats,” an assortment of them will come up and you can read about them and decide which is best for your cats. Some are based on flea products — like Revolution, some will say “natural” or “environmentally-friendly,” which is what you are looking for. There is one product called Only Natural Pet EasyDefense Herbal Essential Oil Flea and Tick Spray for Dogs and Cats created by a holistic veterinarian that might be worth trying.

Some of these sprays must be used once or twice daily, so with four cats, that may get old quickly. But the sprays generally do work, can often be used on bedding or furniture if you are seeing fleas around the house, and often have a pleasant scent. Never use a product on a cat that doesn’t say it’s specifically for cats, and make sure it is safe to use around your fish tank or bird as these animals are very sensitive to aerosols.

If you’re going all naturelle in your flea treatment, please also consider treating your yard to reduce the fleas that get into the house. You can purchase beneficial nematodes from your garden center to spray in your yard. Nematodes can kill 90% of adult fleas, larvae and pupa in grass and soil within 24 hours of the first application. You also can spread food grade diatomaceous earth on your lawn or in the home to get rid of fleas. It’s safe to use around people and pets. By using a combination of natural sprays and yard treatments, you should be able to tackle your flea problems.

Dear Cathy,

We have an eight-month old mix cattle dog and retriever who is very smart. However, since he was about four months old, whenever someone new comes in the house he runs to them and rolls over in his back or side and tries to curl around their legs in a submissive way and then proceeds to squirt urine on them. We cannot get him to stop even with a spray bottle. It happens when he gets excited too. I thought he would grow out of it but so far, no. Any suggestions?


–Lee, Stony Brook New York

Dear Lee,

What you are describing is submissive urination. Submission urination is basically an insecure dog’s way of letting the people (and dogs) around him know he is not a threat. It can be difficult to halt this behavior entirely, but there are things you can do to mitigate it.

Start by building his confidence through daily training. Training helps to build up his confidence and creates a better relationship between the two of you. Once trained, when you think he is about to drop, roll and pee, ask him to “sit” instead, which will keep him upright and unable to urinate on you.

When you come home, toss a few treats across the floor without any fuss and continue walking past him. This food distraction will help him manage his initial excitement of seeing you and reduce the chance for submissive peeing. After you put your things down, take him outside to relieve himself. When he is done, ask him to “sit” and pet him on the side of the shoulder. Don’t stand over him or pet him from above as these are dominant postures that can trigger submissive urination. Talk to him in a normal voice. No baby talk or raised voices, and don’t overdo it, since talking can sometimes overexcite a dog, which in turn leads to submissive urination. Follow the same practice with your guests.

Submissive dogs often benefit from calm environments. Buy a pheromone collar for him to wear and add pheromone plug-ins around the home to reduce his anxiety. While he may or may not grow out of this, implementing these practices can help build his confidence and reduce the triggers that cause the submissive urination.


(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)




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