The health benefits of pet ownership are well documented. But pet lovers aren’t driven by research and health benefits to share their lives with furry or feathered creatures. They are driven by love and admiration and joy. While pets can add great pleasure to our lives, they can also bring problems that need to be handled, like fleas.

Our own loving Roxy, a beautiful, petite, black and white cat, came into our lives about 9 years ago. Sadly, our fluffy bundle of love came with an existing flea problem. Even though she was not our first kitty, fleas were a new issue for us, so we had no idea how to tackle them. Roxy was just a kitten, so I sought out the support of a local holistic veterinarian for spaying and for flea advice. He thought her case was significant enough for the “big guns”, as he called it, of Advantage or one of those other chemical products applied to her skin.

Although I was less than thrilled to expose my new kitty to these chemicals, he came highly recommended and I had no reason to question his advice (yet). But it didn’t work and the fleas, while only seasonal, continued to be a problem every summer without fail. I researched and tried everything non-toxic I could find, including, but not limited to, regularly combing her with a special flea comb, dusting her with diatomaceous earth and bathing her.

While you might think bathing a less than 10 lb. cat should be an easy task, she loathed it and turned out to be freakishly strong when distressed. My husband had to be fully dressed in a heavy coat and gloves in order to avoid being mauled by her claws and had to continuously wrestle her back into the sink! I had to work as quickly as possible to scrub and rinse her, avoid her claws and get the whole process over with as quickly as possible!! While it makes for an entertaining story that we laugh about, it was not fun for us or for her, and was only minimally effective. So we quickly abandoned this approach as well.

A few years back, I stumbled upon tubes of essential oils sold by Dr. Mercola, while researching non-toxic bug sprays for my niece who was heading off to Costa Rica to do research. I had little faith that the oils would work, given what we had already tried, but was surprised and delighted when they turned out to be effective!

Recently, I made myself a note to remind me to order more and start applying it to our cat before she starts to get uncomfortable. Sadly, it appears that the tubes of essential oil are no longer an option, except for dogs. There is an herbal collar available that diffuses slowly over four months. Hopefully it will deliver the same protection as the oils applied directly to her skin. And since Roxy would get mopey for a few days after we applied the oils, perhaps this will be a better fit.

I’ll let you know how it works out but want to assure you that there are almost always non-toxic options available to meet all your needs. It’s worth the effort to seek them out and protect yourself, your family, your pets, and the world from the risks of chemicals.