Topical Flea Products Are Killing Our Cats
When you see your cat suffering from a serious case of painful flea bites, you want to ease their discomfort as soon as possible. Running to the nearest store and picking up a topical cat flea treatment seems likes the quickest and easiest solution, but it might just be tossing your cat out of the frying pan and straight into the fire.
The fact of the matter is that the simple, easy-to-buy flea medications lining the shelves of most pet and grocery stores are not as benign as they appear. These pesticides have been linked to thousands of pet deaths and little has been done to make these products safer. The packaging is seemingly harmless. The directions are simple and straightforward. Just squeeze out a few drops onto your cat’s neck and eliminate those pesky fleas. Unfortunately, there’s more to the story.
What the packaging fails to mention is that, in far too many cases, the treatment doesn’t just poison fleas. It could poison your cat, too.
Treating Your Cat With Pesticides is Dangerous
There’s no way around it. When you treat your cat with a topical pesticide, you are exposing them to chemicals formulated to kill. The low doses our cats are exposed to can lead to a variety of complications: damage to the nervous system, skin rashes, sores, and seizures. In 2008, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), received approximately 43,000 reports of pets who were negatively affected by topical flea products. The reports included a number of different brands of products, including various pesticides and ingredients. The same year, it was determined that about 1.4% of those incidents resulted in death.
How Flea Treatments Can Hurt Cats
Reactions to these flea medications vary. Risk factors include allergies, age, pregnancy, and previous drug use. In some cases, the reaction happens when the product is used improperly. In others, the product was used correctly and the reaction occurs anyway. Some cats just experience itching and skin irritation, while a severe reaction could end in death. The symptoms of an adverse reaction vary, but tend to include excess salivation, pupil dilation, muscle tremors, vomiting, shivering, skin irritation, and behavioral changes.
Using Flea Medications Safely
If you’re willing to take the risk and use an over-the-counter flea medication, please take the necessary precautions. Be certain that you are using a flea treatment designed specifically for cats. If you have a multiple cat home, don’t allow the cats around one another for at least a day after being treated. It’s possible that your cats will groom one another. The pesticides in topical flea treatments, if ingested, are very dangerous.
Remember, dosing according to the instructions is not a guarantee that your cat will not have a negative reaction to the poison. Some cats are more sensitive than others, especially kittens and older cats.
Making Cat Flea Treatments Safer
In 2008, the EPA received approximately 43,000 reports of pets who had experienced a negative reaction to a topical flea product. The reports included a number of different brands of products, including various pesticides and ingredients.
There is no single pesticide that you can avoid to ensure your cat’s safety. All pesticides could potentially harm your cat.
The large number of reports caused the EPA to review the state of the topical pet insecticide industry. This evaluation concluded that most reporting their cat’s illness or death caused by spot-on flea treatments were using the products incorrectly – treating their cats with a solution made for dogs. Dog flea treatments contain stronger pesticides that cats simply cannot handle, even in miniscule doses. This prompted some reforms. By 2010, they were urging manufacturers to improve labeling and possibly increase testing before releasing these products to the public.
The state of cat flea medication has improved since then thanks to these investigations and packaging reform.
But they didn’t solve the problem. Reports of cats suffering from the side effects of topical flea treatments are still popping up. These reports aren’t only coming from people who can’t read the packaging. They’re also coming from people who used the chemical flea treatments properly. Even if you use them as directed, these treatments for cats are still not 100% safe.
I Already Used a Spot-On Treatment on my Cat. What Now?
First of all, stay calm! Not all cats react negatively to these medications. In fact, it’s more than likely that your cat will be fine.
Watch your cat closely. If you do notice any effects after the application of a topical flea treatment, immediately wash your cat with a gentle dish soap, like Dawn. Continue to monitor your cat and consider contacting a veterinarian if they start to show symptoms of a serious reaction.
However, if your cat has ingested the flea medication, this will not help. You will need to get your cat to a veterinarian for treatment as soon as possible.
If Chemical Flea Treatments are Bad, What Can I Use Instead?
A perfectly natural, easy to use, and effective flea treatment is food-grade diatomaceous earth. This natural powder is comprised of the fossilized shells of ancient sea creatures. When observed under a microscope, diatomaceous earth particles resemble shards of glass. These sharp edges are the secret to diatomaceous earth’s power. The particles penetrate bug skeletons, then cuts up or dehydrates them to death. It is simple, mechanical, and it really works. Plus, if you use food grade diatomaceous earth, it’s completely safe for your cat.
While some people choose to use it topically, it can dry out your cat’s skin when used that way. We recommend sprinkling it in your cat’s favorite areas. Diatomaceous earth does a great job of getting rid of pests in your home before they can get to your cat.
And best of all: unlike OTC flea and tick medication, there’s no chance that it will leave patches of raw skin or cause damage to their nervous system.