How Indoor Cats Get Fleas And What To Do About It

I was shocked to find my cat Holly had fleas. I’d not had an indoor cat before. I didn’t think having indoor cats I had to worry about such things. But apparently, I was wrong. So, just how did she get fleas?

Indoor cats can get fleas from us, from other pets, and from the vets. Some indoor cats go out for a short time they can get fleas then.

One thing we cat owners always have issues with is fleas. They are a pain and an annoyance not to mention quite dangerous to your beautiful furry friend. And it makes you want to itch just thinking about them. I know ages ago when my vet said my cat Holly had fleas I was ‘noo, really? But she lives inside.’ She literally only walked around the outside of the house on concreate and no plants once a day. But apparently, that was enough. I used to have an allotment so perhaps I brought them in. But anyway, fleas she had, and the fleas had to go. So, just how do indoor cats get fleas, and can we prevent it? I share what I’ve learned below.

Fleas aren’t nice to have and can carry lots of diseases. Let’s face it just the thought of fleas makes you want to itch!

How Do Fleas Get On My Indoor Cat?

How Cats Get Fleas Outside

If your indoor cat gets outside time either in the enclosed garden, yard, or even a catio it can catch fleas.

Outside your cat can get fleas in most of the ways an outdoor cat would get them.

Fleas love to hide in your outdoor plants. They love warm moist places and will stay in your garden plants like trees and shrubs. They also like leaf piles and waste areas, anywhere they are protected. If you have a woodland area they will love that. While fleas are not keen on grass provided it is short they can survive in longer grass.


A lot of people might not think their indoor cat needs flea treatment especially if it is 100% indoors and doesn’t even get to go in a catio let alone the garden.

I looked after a little cat for someone and they said their cat got tons of fleas from their backyard. They lived in a very moist environment with a sunny yard and the fleas thrived in their garden of lush green plants all closely planted.

The only way I can think of to avoid this is for your cat to stay in 100% of the time. But even that won’t work as the fleas can still come in with you. And many indoor cats do get outside space-time. Some people don’t count this as an indoor cat. I guess its how you define it. I count it because the cat isn’t free-roaming lives in the house most of the time and only has some monitored outside time.

A yard with no greenery doesn’t work. Maybe it if was 100% paved over, but that’s no fun for your cat or you.

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How To Reduce Fleas Outside

Keep your grass short. Fleas don’t like short grass as they are vulnerable. The conditions don’t support their growth cycle. They dry out and die.

We don’t need to do this where I live but if you use sprinklers it can make it too wet for the fleas as well. The humidity needs to be 45% and over for the fleas to survive. (source)

If you have plants though your cat is still going to get fleas from those areas. When they go under the bushes to keep cool they can pick the fleas up.

Your Cats Can Get Fleas At Their Vets

Cats can get fleas when you take them to the vets. While vets are fastidiously clean it is possible for your cat to get fleas from other pets or humans while at the vet. They might drop off and then jump onto your pet. While adult fleas tend to stay on their host and not leave, it is possible.

There’s not a lot you can do about this. I’m not sure how often it happens. All you can do is to check your cat over when you get home and give it a thorough comb with a flea comb.

I found this video on youtube where Dr. Alex checks over a very reluctant Molly, lol.

Where Does Your Cat Sit?

If your cat is at ground level and sits near an open window, door, or even behind a mesh the fleas can jump onto them. They are very tiny but jump huge heights and distances for their size. According to flea science, fleas can jump up to 19 inches (48 cm) distance,1 up to 7.9 inches (20 cm) high. (Source)

I’m going with these stats as they have done the research, however, I’d swear the one that got jammed in a box when I was little jumped much higher than that.

Anyway, this means that even inside your cat isn’t protected if there are fleas nearby.

Your Cat Can Get Fleas From Other Pets

Your cat can get fleas from other pets in your household and as I say even other pets from other households. As fleas jump they can jump from pet to pet, although they tend to live on one pet once there. It’s more likely that the flea just dropped off or the larvae were deposited on the floor and hatched.

Cats Can Get Fleas From Us

Yes, we are often the culprits for giving our poor kitties fleas. Fleas often live outside so if we go outside, to the park in the garden, etc. We can easily bring in fleas with us. Also if we visit other houses that have pets they may have fleas. We can also pick up larvae on our clothes or footwear.

There’s no real way to know if you have done this. If you’ve been outside perhaps take off your shoes at the entrance. Although this won’t stop it can help reduce the chances of bringing fleas into the home.

In the next section, I show an example of how easy it is for fleas to travel.

How Indoor Cats Get Fleas If They Are The Only Pet

100% indoor cats without any other pets at home can get fleas from all the ways here mentioned in this article, from us, from the vets, from where they sit, etc, except the ones where they get them from pets or outside.

Here’s a personal example of just how easy it is how far and how easy it is to transfer fleas.

Some years ago I worked in an office. The office was up three flights of stairs. We were all professionals so it was all suits and smart clothes. Although we did have workers enter the office.

We all traveled several miles to the office either by bus or by car. So you’d think that there would be no issue of fleas.

One day it was announced that the office had fleas and would need to be treated. Everyone looked at me. I was only one of two people in the office that had pets at the time. I said, “don’t look at me, my cat’s been treated,” so they all turned to the other pet owner. (Who incidentally looked guilty!)

Any one of us could have brought in the fleas or their larvae and anyone of us could have taken them home with us. People gardened, people came into the office, they went out and walked in the wilds.

It never occurred to any of us that there could be another reason besides the pets themselves. Since then I’ve learned of the other reasons shown here.

How To Kill Fleas On Your Cat

How do you get rid of fleas on indoor cats?

To kill fleas on your cat you can use a natural remedy or you can get something from your vets.

When I was younger we used to have flea collars for the cats. That isn’t something I would do now. It’s not that effective, it’s dangerous, and I have seen some horrific scaring around the neck area from some brands of flea collars. I’ve also heard of cat deaths from them.

Although, in fairness, I never had any trouble when I did that.

Also, the chemicals from the collars can harm your cat and you can also get them on your hands. I used to be able to smell them as well.

Most flea treatments, even the very strong ones take time to work but usually kill fleas within 24 hours.

The reason I use the vet’s flea treatment of Frontline was that it works. It also kills ticks and lice and stops the eggs on the cat from hatching.

Shudder. I hate all these besties. Ticks are a particular issue here.

The challenge is fleas do build up a resistance to these treatments so I have found they needed to be changed from time to time.

You can also opt for tablets or injections. Injections take longer to work but last longer.

This is for information only please discuss the best option for you and your cat with your vet.

Many people aren’t happy with using chemicals so use natural treatments for fleas for their cats. I can understand why.

I have looked into natural treatments. I’m not convinced about some of what I’ve seen online like lemons for treatment as they are mildly toxic for cats. I remove all citrus even from dishwashing up liquid.

What Kills Fleas Instantly On Cats?

According to WebMD, you can use The pill nitenpyram (Capstar) and it kills fleas within 30 minutes which is as about as instant as you are going to get. But it doesn’t last. So while it’s efficient in an emergency it’s better to be prepared. You can get it on Amazon. (affiliate Link)

Killing Fleas On Your Cat Isn’t Enough

When your cat has had fleas and you treat them you also have to treat the whole house. Don’t leave it as fleas bread quickly.

Wash all linen and bedding, etc. Do the bedding first before you start on the carpet.

Remember to also do all your cats’ bedding and cat climbers as well. And clean out the litter box too. Phew, time for a cuppa!

Although fleas make you itch and feel dirty they are not necessarily a sign of a dirty house they can live in a clean house provided there is a source of blood ie your cat.

To treat your house you need to vacuum it especially under cupboards and around the edges, under beds, etc. Vacuuming regularly is a great way to help control flea infestation. Some people prefer to use a carpet spray for extra protection like the one below you can get on Amazon (affiliate link).

Then you need to treat all the areas of your carpet with a flea spray, especially for carpets. You can pick these up at your local vets or pet store (shop). Just follow the instructions and safety precautions on the can. Pay particular attention to areas around the edges of the carpet, the base and under the bed or furniture, or around the feet of furniture.

To keep the flea population down vacuum your carpet in this way regularly.

Can You Get Fleas From Your Cat?

The reverse is also true. You can also pick up fleas from your cat. However, fleas don’t like humans so they won’t stay. That doesn’t stop the little so-and-sos from biting us though!

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