If you're like most pet parents, you want to protect your cat from dangerous flea and tick exposure. Did you know, however, that certain flea and tick medications might actually harm your feline friend?
Known as pyrethroids, these medications are widely used in dog-specific flea and tick control products. Nevertheless, when cats accidentally are exposed to it, they can experience dangerous side effects.
The Danger of Pyrethroids
When used in flea- and tick-control products for dogs, pyrethroids are incredibly concentrated. It is a widely known fact that cats cannot withstand this level of insecticide. As a result, if a cat meets a dog that has just been treated with pyrethroid-based flea- and tick-prevention, or worse, if a pet parent accidentally doses a cat with flea or tick medication meant for dogs, adverse reactions can quickly occur.
The Pet Poison Helpline routinely responds to calls for assistance with accidental pyrethroid poisoning in cats. This is a real threat for cats that live in mixed-species households.
How to Prevent Pyrethroid Poisoning
When a cat is poisoned with pyrethroids, symptoms will develop very quickly and are very serious. Cats will start to have seizures and can even die because of these insecticides. Therefore, the best path is prevention. When considering flea- and tick-prevention for your pets, go straight to a trained veterinarian. Many clerks at pet stores are unfamiliar with the dangers of pyrethroids in cats and may accidentally recommend the incorrect medication or an incorrect dose that will put the cat at danger.
Additionally, don't ever assume that a medication that says it is not formulated for cats will be acceptable for use on felines. These medications, especially when they are formulated for dogs, often contain dangerous levels of pyrethroids and may be toxic for cats.
Finally, it's wise to keep your dog and cat separate for a number of hours or even days after you've applied flea or tick medication to your dog. Although it may seem unlikely, cross-contamination can easily occur if the cat sleeps or nuzzles against the dog, and this may make the kitty very ill.
With this in mind, it is always the wisest and best option to purchase your cat's flea and tick control medications directly from your vet. A qualified veterinarian will be able to give you sound advice as to which medications are best suited to your pet and how they should be applied.
Content reviewed by a veterinarian.