By Annie Kinnett Nichols

Zen is the best cat on the planet. Zen is an indoor/outdoor cat, and he actually does his “business” outside which, as far as I’m concerned, is a miracle. He protects the neighborhood, loves attention and has a purr to match no other. I could go on. The only complaint I have about Mr. Perfect are the fleas that have decided he’s the best thing on the planet as well.

Since there was zero winter this year, we’ve had to go to war with teeny-tiny black dots. Since August is INtown’s “pet issue,” I decided to turn lemons into lemonade. I researched the heck out of getting rid of fleas and I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned so far.

The only way to get rid of fleas is to not have them in the first place. Old-fashioned boric acid will work if you start before flea season begins in February. If you choose pesticides, spray regularly – each month – so they stay away and don’t cross your threshold.

You don’t have to dip your cat into “poison,” since a good comb with simple soap and water will do the trick. Soapy water kills fleas. Also make sure to vacuum regularly and throw the bags away.

A friend of mine swears by “green” and uses Northwest Exterminating’s green pest control. They spray outside only to make sure the fleas never get inside.

The greenest way I could find was They use nematoids, a microscopic worm that eats flea larve. Within a month or two, the entire yard will be protected. No need for poison or spray because nematoids reproduce on their own.

We ended up going to Do It Yourself Pest Control right off I-85 at the Chamblee Tucker exit. It’s the cheapest way to go as far as I’ve seen, and my husband went out and got the works. The one good side effect is whatever kills fleas also kills mosquitos, so we can now sit on the front porch without bug spray. We’ll try the nematoids in September and I’ll let you know how it turns out.

The only fleas I find now are on Zen from his outdoor romps and those get combed out with soapy water. I would love to hear from readers what solutions you’ve found – especially if they are natural and safe for the environment, the pets and the humans.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.