Toxicity in Cats from Dog Flea Control Products

Clappison Animal Hospital’s Dr. Chris Hamilton recently saw a case involving Permethrin toxicity in a young cat. Permethrin is used in a lot of products to control fleas and ticks on your dogs. Permethrin is extremely toxic for cats and can have devastating results. This young cat was friends with the family dog and contact the Permethrin by climbing on his friend and licking it off. It does not take much for the Permethrin to get into our felines’ systems. Permethrin poisoning to cats can be caused by directly ingesting it by eating it or swallowing contaminated fur – for example if they climb onto a dog who has recently been given it’s flea control, and then the cat decides to groom itself but happens to have some Permethrin on it’s fur now as well. It’s also possible to absorb some toxins through the skin (particularly the paws) and simply inhaling the Permethrin.

The signs that your cat may have been poisoned vary and will depend on level of toxicity. Most toxins result in vomiting and diarrhoea but Permethrin has a history of causing neurological damage resulting in signs like tremors, incoordination, seizures, excitability, depression, or even a coma. The poor kitty that came into our clinic was exhibiting signs of tremors but luckily his family got him into the clinic quickly and we were able to begin treatment. He spent 2 days in our Waterdown clinic and went home in good health to his family after this.

If you are ever in a situation where you suspect your cat has experienced Permethrin poisoning or any poisoning, you should immediately remove your cat from the environment that may contain this poison. If you fear the Permethrin may be on your cat’s coat or paws we suggest that you prevent he or she from grooming themselves any further and you will need to contact your vet right away. Please do not try to induce vomiting unless you have been told by your veterinarian to do so.

This is a great example why we instruct our clients to keep cats away from dogs who have had their Permethrin product applied. If you are not sure whether or not your dog’s flea/tick control product contains Permethrin please contact our clinic and ask to speak with a technician or doctor who will be able to answer this question for you.