Unlike dogs, cats are very sensitive to chemicals, which is why some topical flea medications can cause potentially deadly reactions. If you’re wondering if flea treatment can hurt your cat, the answer really depends on what you plan on using and how you’ll be applying it.
In this post, we will be exploring some of the most common causes of flea treatments harming cats, hopefully helping you avoid any of these potentially lethal mistakes.
What causes adverse effects of flea treatments in cats?
Topical pesticides (which is what most over the counter flea treatments are) have to be applied in a very specific way. Negative reactions to flea treatments are often caused by human error.
It is of paramount importance that pet owners read the label of flea treatments to make sure they’re using the right product for their pets. Before purchasing an OTC flea treatment, you need to ensure that it is safe to be used on cats. Keeping your cat’s weight in mind when treating them for fleas is also particularly important because the wrong dose can be lethal to a smaller cat if the dose is too high.
The problem with Pyrethrin, Pyrethroid and Permethrin
Pyrethrin, pyrethroid, and permethrin are widely-used insecticides used in tick and flea prevention products. They work by preventing the nervous system of ticks and fleas from functioning properly.
However, because cats do not have the liver enzymes necessary to process pyrethrin, pyrethroid, and permethrin, these compounds can cause significant and severe problems when used on cats.
A lot of flea prevention products like flea collars and shampoos contain Pyrethrin, a botanical insecticide derived from chrysanthemum flowers. Some brands contain the stronger, synthetic version of Pyrethrin, called Pyrethroid. Another type of pyrethroid, Permethrin, can be used to treat fleas on dogs but can be lethal for cats.
Even though pyrethrin and pyrethroid-based products aren’t always toxic and can be used to control fleas on cats, the risks associated with these compounds aren’t worth taking.
Safe cat flea treatments to consider
There are a lot of safer flea treatments for cats (and sometimes also more effective) than pyrethrin and pyrethroid-based treatments. The following products are safer and more cost-effective alternatives to products that contain pyrethroid and pyrethrin:
- Advantage II
- Advantage MULTI
- Bravecto PLUS
- Revolution PLUS
When considering a flea treatment for your cat, it is important that you ONLY use anti-flea treatments that are designed for cats – do not assume that all flea treatments are safe for your cat!
If your cat does have fleas it may well be worth your time talking to your vet who will keep your cat’s lifestyle, age, health history, and breed in mind since there might be some factors that can influence your chosen product’s effectiveness.