Each year as flea season approaches, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) receives thousands of calls from pet owners who have accidentally misused flea control products on their cats. There are almost 20 brands of products containing permethrin currently available that are labeled “for dogs only.” Because when used on cats—even in small amounts—these products can spell big trouble.
“The misuse of flea and tick products can be extremely harmful and even deadly to our companion animals,” says Dr. Steven Hansen, APCC Senior Vice President. Signs commonly seen with permethrin toxicity in cats include tremors, muscle fasciculation and seizures. These symptoms can develop within hours, or may be delayed up to 48 hours. Most cats have a good chance of recovery with prompt and aggressive veterinary treatment, which may include medication, IV fluids, bathing and other supportive care.
APCC experts urge you to consult with your veterinarian before purchasing products to control fleas on your pet or in your home—and always read the product instructions completely before using any product on your pet. Adds Hansen, “By simply taking the time to read a product label carefully, a pet owner could save his or her animal’s life.”
If you have used a flea control product and notice that your cat is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center's emergency hotline at (888) 426-4435 for round-the-clock telephone assistance. For more pet poison prevention tips, please visit APCC online.