You may apply diatomaceous earth (DE) to cats by lightly rubbing it into their coats dusting it in their premises. This is done to help the cat with fleas, lice, ticks and other pests. DE is also an organic dewormer and you can give it to your cat by adding a teaspoonful in their food or water. Always make sure that the DE is the food-grade version safe for humans and animals.
What is diatomaceous earth?
Diatomaceous earth or DE comes from the fossilized remains of diatoms which are tiny, aquatic organisms. The skeletons of diatoms are made of silica, a natural substance, and these skeletons fossilize in the sediment of rivers, oceans, and lakes over the years. The resulting sedimentary deposits are mined to create what is now known as diatomaceous earth.
There are two types of diatomaceous earth:
- Food grade DE – which is labeled GRAS or generally recognized as safe by the US Food and Drug Administration. This version is safe for human and animal consumption and contains 0.5 to 2% crystalline silica. It is used as an insecticide and anti-caking agent in the agricultural and food industries.
- Filter grade DE – inedible but has many industrial uses. It contains 60% crystalline silica. It is toxic to mammals but has many uses like dynamite production and water filtration.
How to apply diatomaceous earth to cats?
Gently rub food-grade DE your cat’s coat or dust it in their premises to treat fleas, ticks, lice, and other external parasites. Always be cautious when applying it to your cat and keep it away from her eyes, mouth, and nose. Make sure not to apply DE on your cat’s open wound or sore. Your cat should be shampooed within 12 hours and once your cat is dry, comb her coat well to get rid of dead bugs and eggs. Do the process for at least 2 weeks for a complete flea treatment.
DE food-grade version may also be used to treat internal parasites like tapeworms, pinworms, hookworms, and roundworms.
Here is the DE dosage for cats according to their weight:
- cats weighing between two and six and a half lbs. = half a teaspoon of food grade DE with every meal
- cats weighing 13 lbs. or less = 1 teaspoon every meal
- cats weighing more than 13 lbs. = 1 and a half teaspoon every meal
If your cat likes dry food, mix and shake the DE until it is evenly coated. Take note of the number of servings and multiply it by how much dosage is needed for your cat’s consumption.
You may also sprinkle DE liberally on beddings, carpet, furniture, and other items that may have fleas. Leave it on for three days and vacuum the areas. Repeat the process weekly for one month to make sure that the adult fleas are destroyed along with the eggs and larvae.
How does diatomaceous earth work?
DE works by perforating an insect’s exoskeleton with its abrasive and sharp edges. It absorbs the oils and fats, thus, drying and killing the insects or pests. According to Dr. Michelle Yassom, a holistic veterinarian, the diatom fossils are attracted to the wet and slippery lipid layer of the parasites, scratches them with their sharp edges and dries them out.
Treatment should be for a minimum of two weeks to make sure that the eggs are eliminated as well. Vets recommend the Natural Chemistry DE Flea carpet powder to treat fleas and external parasites.
Things to remember when using DE for fleas
- Be sure to store DE in a sealed container and keep it in a clean and dry place.
- Use DE with extreme care because the powder form may act as an irritant to the eyes, mouth, skin, or lungs. Consult your vet and follow the instructions on the bag carefully.
Possible side-effects of DE when inhaled in large amounts:
- may irritate the nose and nasal passages
- cough and shortness of breath
- skin irritation and dryness
- eye irritation
- long-term exposure may lead to silicosis, a chronic inflammatory lung disease
What are the other uses of diatomaceous earth?
DE may also be used as an all-natural cat litter. It easily absorbs odor and cats like the silky soft texture. It easily clumps allowing for an easier clean-up of your cat’s poop and pee.
Here are the steps on how to use DE as cat litter:
- Add a new kitty litter after cleaning the litter box.
- Add 3 quarters of a cup of DE for every pound of litter you add to the box and evenly distribute throughout the litter.
- Repeat this process each time you change the litter.
DE is also used as a component of various products. Non-pesticide products that contain DE include toothpaste, beverages, medicines, food, skin care products, water filters, paints, and rubbers. It is used as clarifiers for wine and beer and as anticaking materials in feeds.
Important things to remember about DE
Always use great caution when using DE on your cats. Even if the food-grade version is safe to ingest, always wear a mask when using it. Wear gloves or have some lotion in handy as it may result in dry skin. DE is safe to use on pet beddings and works best when dry. Make sure to consult your veterinarian when using DE both for flea control and as a dewormer so you will be guided on the proper usage.
You may apply diatomaceous earth to your cat either by rubbing it in their coats or by giving it to them during mealtime. DE is effective to control fleas as well as internal parasites in cats. Always opt for the food-grade version which is considered safe for both humans and animals. Use DE with extreme caution and always consult your veterinarian for proper guidance.