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C2008-10

Dear Christopher Cat

I have cats and dogs – and fleas. Some topical dog flea products carry warnings against using them on cats. Is it safe to apply these products to my dogs, who play with my cats?

Christopher Responds

You’re referring to topical products that contain permethrin, a synthetic product similar to the pyrethrin insecticides derived from chrysanthemums.

We cats are so sensitive to permethrin that we can be poisoned by tiny amounts on the coats of dogs with whom we live.

In cats, permethrin causes seizures, muscle twitching, tremors, drooling and loss of coordination.

Signs of toxicity usually begin within a few hours of exposure and last for 62 hours, on average. Ten percent of poisoned cats die.

Most manufacturers say that cats can safely interact with permethrin-treated dogs, as long as the product dries before they get together.

However, my feline siblings and I snuggle with our dogs and even groom them, and we don’t want to take chances.

To protect us, Mom uses a non-permethrin flea product, such as Frontline or Advantage. K9 Advantix contains permethrin, so Mom doesn’t buy it.

This week is National Poison Prevention Week, a good time to familiarize yourself with the products you use on your pets.Also, check your home for less obvious animal toxins, such as Tylenol and other drugs stored where pets can reach them, antifreeze leaking from the car’s radiator, and even Easter lilies and chocolate candy.

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