Symon had a flea problem recently. He hasn't had any fleas for about two years. I saw a flea crawling around his toes and we flea-combed him and found four fleas. (BTW the best way to trap fleas when you use a flea comb? Scotch tape! It grabs them and holds them - then fold it over trapping them. I know soapy water is recommended but I have had fleas land on the bubbles and jump off. Scotch tape!)
We had one dose of Advantage left and we used it. But we were still finding fleas a few weeks later. One of them attached to my ankle! When combing Symon we only found a few at a time. We wanted to try the flea pill, Comfortis. Steve asked the vet about it when he took Symon in for his annual shots and checkup. They were out of Comfortis, but the vet recommended Diatomaceous Earth. We ordered some from Amazon. It is finely ground fossilized algae. For how it works, see this link.
I called the vet the following week to ask if they got more Comfortis in stock and was told the max dosage they had for cats is 12 lb. and if we gave Symon that pill it would not be as effective. And the vet was discontinuing carrying the Comfortis. They had a 24 hour pill called Capstar. Steve got one of these, but we haven't used it yet. We wanted to try out the Diatomaceous Earth.
Which we did this past weekend. OH MY GOODNESS WHAT A MESS. We DO NOT recommend this unless you have a serious flea infestation. And even then, we have always had good luck with Advantage and frequent vacuuming. With fleas, you have to vacuum daily, and always immediately empty the canister and take it out of the house. Flea control always talks about the 'Flea Life Cycle' - they lay eggs which can remain for a long time, then they hatch into larva which can remain for a long time, then they grow into adult fleas. Frequent vacuuming - we think - is the best option.
The Diatomaceous Earth is a very fine powder, like flour or talc. I read online that using less is better than more but could not find anything telling how much to use. How much is 'less' ?? We bought paper face masks at Target (in the hardware section) and wore them while working. I sprinkled the D. Earth and Steve followed me vacuuming. It should be left for hours or days, but we didn't want to mess with that. As it is we couldn't vacuum all of it up from the carpet. I grabbed a small handful - maybe a 1/4 cup? - and sprinkled that over a 3 foot area. This was too much! I quickly realized I needed less - perhaps a Tablespoon for that area? By the time we got to the other side of the living room the vacuum was making loud noises and we had to remove and empty the canister as well as pull the foam filter and rinse it, putting it back damp. I sprinkled very little in the hallway and bedroom and we skipped the computer room (where Symon was locked up).
When we were done we then had to clean the vacuum. We often wash out the canister and rinse the filters. We also had to wipe down the vacuum itself. The white powder got everywhere. As it is we didn't get all of it from inside the vacuum and it will probably clean itself after it dries out and we use it again. There are areas of the carpet that still show some powder residue (although it is food grade, safe and non-toxic).
Given the mess and danger to ruining a vacuum, we DO NOT recommend this. Unless you have such a horrible infestation you are considering using professionals. Which would probably be a better option than doing this and potentially costing you a vacuum.
We are going back to Advantage and daily vacuuming. The cold weather has arrived so the fleas should all die off soon anyway. We have no idea where the fleas came from. This summer, while not as hot as it could have been, was extremely humid. They could have hitched a ride from my brother's. We don't suspect our own yard as our apartment maintenance mow and trim quite often. I will update this to report on how we fared going back to our standby flea remedies.