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Is your Flea Medication Killing Your Cat?

Permethrin catsDid you know that cats are more sensitive to flea medication than dogs?  And kittens are more sensitive than their older parents. Yes, their sensitivity is more than just an attitude!  It is common for people to think that one flea treatment is as good as another and if you can use it on Odie then why can’t you use it on Garfield? Permethrin is why.  Permethrin is a synthetic chemical which is frequently used as an insecticide and it is also a neurotoxin. It can cause seizures, coma and even death.

Permethrin is in Dog flea medication but not cat flea powder. Despite the fact that most flea powder has a picture of a dog or a cat to let you know which animal to use it on, if you have multiple animals in your house it can be easy to grab the wrong box. The boxes also have text that says “DO NOT USE ON CATS”, but it is not big enough and can be easily missed.  Because in many stores the dog and cat flea medication is all on one shelf together it can be easy to grab the wrong box.

Signs of Permethrin Poisoning

  • Tremors
  • Seizure
  • Coma
  • Salvation
  • Incoordination – maybe they are walking funny
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fever

Symptoms will generally start within a few hours but can sometimes take a few days to appear.

To reduce the likelihood of permethrin poisoning you should buy your flea medication from your vet or from a pet supply store, instead of a big box. Products at a specialty store will be more clearly displayed to reduce confusion.

If you notice any of these signs call you vet immediately! There is no direct treatment, only the symptoms can be treated. So a vet will treat the symptoms, like a seizure, and will try to decontaminate their system. Getting your cat to the vet as soon as you notice symptoms will increase the likelihood of survival.