Flea and Tick Medicine Poisoning in Cats

Flea and Tick Medicine Poisoning in Cats

Numerous pet flea and tick remedies, including on-spot sprays, washes, and specialty shampoos, feature components such as pyrethrin and pyrethroid. These compounds are also prevalent in insecticides for household and farming use.

Pyrethrin originates from the Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium flowers, commonly known as "mum." When applied in the right quantities, pyrethrins are generally considered safe for felines. On the other hand, pyrethroids are man-made alternatives to pyrethrins crafted for improved efficacy and stability. Unlike pyrethrins, pyrethroids aren't advised for feline use. A widely recognized pyrethroid is permethrin, often included in non-prescription topical solutions for canines. This compound undergoes metabolism in the liver.

The feline liver struggles to effectively process permethrin, resulting in an accumulation that can lead to toxicity.

If not promptly addressed, such toxic reactions can escalate to convulsions and, in severe cases, be fatal within hours. Though permethrin toxicity can manifest in canines, it's infrequent and usually only at highly elevated levels.

Symptoms Of Flea and Tick Medicine Poisoning

After being exposed to or treated with flea and tick medications, felines often start showing adverse reactions within minutes to hours. However, in some cases, these signs might take up to 72 hours to manifest. Usually, these symptoms persist for about two to three days.

Felines exposed to these medications typically exhibit the following vital signs:

  • Ear twitching  
  • Lethargy  
  • Hiding  
  • Vomiting/diarrhea 
  • Seizures and death if symptoms are untreated 
  • Tremors/muscle twitching/trembling 
  • Ear twitching  
  • Loss of balance or stumbling (ataxia)  
  • Agitation  
  • Drooling (hypersalivation)  
  • Itchiness  

Causes Of Flea and Tick Medicine Poisoning

Reasons for Toxicity from Flea and Tick Treatments in Felines:

  • Mistakenly or purposefully using canine flea and tick treatments on felines.
  • Feline contact with a canine that was recently treated with a spot-on solution. These treatments might remain wet for as long as 24 hours.
  • Adverse reactions even when flea and tick treatments are correctly administered or dosed.
  • Administering an excessive amount.

It's crucial to note that flea and tick treatments intended for dogs should never be used on cats. Remember, cats aren't simply smaller dogs!

Always refer to the product label and select the dose based on the weight specifications provided.

Diagnoses Of Flea and Tick Medicine Poisoning in Cats

When consulting with your veterinarian, they will request a comprehensive record of shampoos, topical treatments, dips, or spot-on products used on your cat or other pets. It would be helpful if you could bring the product and packaging for the veterinarian's review.

A meticulous physical check-up will be your vet's initial step, focusing on evaluating your cat's neurological health. Common diagnostic measures include a complete blood profile, serum chemistry, and a urine test to establish a foundational assessment.

Regrettably, no dedicated toxicology test exists to confirm exposure to pyrethrin or pyrethroid in your feline. As such, any knowledge of contact with these substances becomes crucial for the veterinarian's assessment.

Prompt recognition and intervention are essential for your cat's optimal recovery.

Treatment Of Flea and Tick Medicine Poisoning

Should your cat exhibit signs of toxic reactions, immediate intervention is paramount.

If you inadvertently used a canine treatment on your feline, or if your cat manifests adverse symptoms following the recent use of a spot-on solution either on them or on other animals in your home, reach out to your veterinarian at once for guidance.

Based on the intensity of your cat's reactions, your veterinarian might advise bathing your cat in a watered-down dish soap solution (like Dawn) to minimize further product absorption and then promptly heading to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic.

At the emergency facility, professionals will evaluate your cat's temperature and neurological well-being. Hospitalization might be necessary for up to three days for focused care.

Since there isn't a specific remedy for permethrin toxicity in felines, primary treatment revolves around providing supportive care to address the previously mentioned neurological symptoms. Such care could include:

  • Intravenous muscle relaxants
  • Hydration through IV drips
  • Medication to combat nausea

Additionally, your veterinarian might suggest a contemporary approach known as intralipid therapy. This method aids in expediting the removal of permethrin from the feline's body, alleviating symptoms more swiftly.

Recovery of Flea and Tick Medicine Poisoning

Even after attempting to cleanse your cat with a diluted dish soap solution, the symptoms might persist for up to three days. It's advised to hospitalize your feline until any spasms or involuntary movements cease and they return to their usual behavior.

When treated promptly and thoroughly, the outlook for recovery is highly favorable. Nevertheless, if your cat's pronounced neurological symptoms go unchecked or are addressed too late, permethrin poisoning can be lethal in hours.

Fortunately, cats that make a recovery usually lead regular lives without any lingering effects.

Avoiding Flea and Tick Treatment Toxicity in Felines: To prevent the dire situation of flea and tick treatment toxicity, particularly permethrin poisoning, in your feline, consider the following precautions:

  1. Refrain from using canine flea and tick remedies on felines.
  2. Strictly adhere to dosage guidelines provided on the product label.
  3. Consult your veterinarian for suitable flea and tick preventive solutions for your pet.
  4. Keep your feline isolated from dogs for a day after they've been treated with a topical solution.
  5. If your household has cats and dogs, seek a canine flea and tick treatment from your vet that is free from permethrin.
  6. Store all flea and tick treatments securely, out of reach of your pets.


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