Flea Product Reactions in Cats
The following scenario happens more often during fleas season around spring through summer: a well intentioned cat owner purchases an over the counter flea product and shortly thereafter, they find their poor cat itching and scratching to the point of creating bleeding sores. Something apparently is not right, so concerned, the cat owners call their veterinarian or the number posted on the label of the box.
It is not unheard of cats getting poisoned by flea products. The flea product causing problems may be under the form of dips, sprays, shampoos, spot-on topicals, and collars. Many times cat owners may mistakenly purchase a product for dogs that is toxic to cats. For instance, most spot on flea products for dogs contain highly concentrated permethrin products( 45% or 65% permethrin in spot on products) which in cats can cause toxic reactions while many dogs may tolerate them quite well.
Some cats have been known to develop toxicosis even if the flea products intended for dogs were not applied on them directly. Cats living in the same quarters of dogs treated with flea products have been known of absorbing the products by grooming the dogs or getting in close contact with them. A typical example is Advantix used in dogs. Its labeling clearly states ''If the household has cats or other animals, separate from the treated dog for about an hour until the product is thoroughly dry''
However, in many other scenarios the cat just simply reacts to the over the counter flea poroduct. These are cheap products found at retialers like Walmart or your average grocery store.There are hundreds and hundreds of these types of reaction in cats and dogs reported at HartzVictims.org. BioSpotVictims.Org
While itching and scratching in itself is not a life threatening event, there have been instances where cats had developed more severe reactions, sometimes even fatal. Symptoms generally arise within minutes or hours of application. In some delayed reactions cats may exhibit symptoms even after 24-72 hours. Following are some symptoms suggesting topical flea poisoning.
Symptoms of Topical Flea Poisoning in Cats
-Loss of Appetite
Treatment of Topical Flea Poisoning in Cats
Treatment of cats itching and scratching only, mainly consists of removing the product as much as possible. This is accomplished by removing flea collars if worn and in bathing the cat if a topical spot on product, dip or shampoo was used. The cat must be bathed in lukewarm water with a mild dish detergent such as Dawn dish detergent and then dried with a towel. Hot or cool water may actuallt intensify the reaction. Dish detergents are recommended because it effectively cuts through the grease and works well in removing the product. Dawn dish detergents is what is often used to remove pertoleum from birds found in maritime areas where there where recent oil spills.
In some cases, a second or third bath may be needed if the cat appears still in discomfort.
Cats exhibiting more serious signs require immediate veterinary intervention. In this case, seizures must be controlled by Methocarbomal medications sometimes in conjunction with other anti-seizure meds. Once the cat is conscious and the seizures are under control, the cat may be bathed to remove residual traces of the topical, fluids may be given intravenously and general supportive care is administered.
Prognosis depends on the amount of exposure, the siwftness with which veterinary treatment is seeked and the over all general condition of the cat. Most cats will recover within 24-72 hours of treatment.
Why Over the Counter Flea Products are not Recommended
Over the counter flea productions can be less expensive but unfortunately many have been associated with adverse and even severe, fatal reactions.They should be avoided althogther. The safest flea products are those prescribed by your veterinarian such as Frontline, Advantage and Revolution. Always read labels carefully. Never use on cats products labeled for dogs. Read instructions and dosages very carefully.
Disclaimer: this article is intended for educational purposes only. If you suspect your cat is having a reaction consult with your vet immediately or contact the National Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435
For Further Reading: