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Get Rid of Fleas—Without Terrible Toxins!

Question. Our yard is a highway for stray cats; whenever we let our dogs out, they come back in the house with fleas. What can we do to get rid of fleas in our yard? Thanks!

    ----Marita and Michael; South Kensington, Philadelphia

Mike: My daughter's family just moved into a new house they built in Oklahoma, and fleas have turned up. They need organic ways to rid the house of these pests that will not be harmful to her children. Thanks for any help you can give.  

    ---Concerned grandmother Karla

Mike: Our cat recently brought fleas in with him and we are now infested with the little buggers. Is there any way we can execute them safely? Please help!

    ---Scratching Steve; Atco, NJ

Answer. Well, I assure you that I know what to do here, because I recently had to evict these unwelcome visitors from my own home! So did our musical director, Kenn Kweder. And a weakened kitty may have been the cause in both cases.

The McGrath home is Stray Cat Central; our current brood includes one rescued as an almost-dead kitten from a farm (Tigger, aka "Fat Boy"), one that was dropped on our vet's doorstep at the age of one day and raised by us since Day Two (that's Squeeky, "the bad girl"), and a once-feral cat rescued during a Virginia vacation with the help of Alley Cat Allies, specialists in wild cat rescue and rehab ( That's "the baby", whose proper name is Houdini, but who we always call Dini; she vanished this summer and then reappeared after two weeks, hungry, frazzled and talking up a storm. A few days later, my son Max is asking what all these little black bugs were on his ankles.

The exact same thing happened to Kenny a week or so later. His rescued stray disappears, reappears a week later, ill and all shaken up, and before you know it, Kenny's ankles are also a blood donation center.

Last time I had fleas (way back in college, when dinosaurs roamed the earth), I bombed the house with foggers and now shuddered at the thought. Then I found a brand with very acceptable ingredients—a natural, botanical insecticide and an insect growth regulator. So we vacuumed, left while the foggers did their job, and aired the place out for a couple of hours before we went back in, pleased that there was no residual smell whatsoever.


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