Cat poisoned by well-meaning owner

Have your say

AFTER an alarming incident in which a pet cat almost died, Gillian McLeod, BVMS, MRCVS, of the Golf Veterinary Practice, warns readers of the dangers of not having professional advice when treating an animal.

She told the Review: “Following a recent case of a cat which was poisoned by a non-prescription flea treatment I thought it would be useful to highlight the potential dangers.

“The cat’s owner had inadvertently applied a dog flea treatment to the cat with near fatal consequences.

“The owner had become confused when trying to select a product from a supermarket shelf and had picked up the dog product.”

The cat was never keen on having flea products applied and the owner found it easiest to do when the cat was eating. The cat arrived home and began eating so they hurriedly applied the product.

A few hours later, the cat started twitching and moving in an unco-ordinated fashion so they contacted me.

The cat was showing typical signs of poisoning and of course the owner reported that they had used a flea treatment. When we checked what product they had used, it became clear that the cat had been poisoned by the use of a permethrin flea product designed for use in dogs only.

The packaging did clearly state that it was not for cats but, believing that they had the right product and being in a hurry to apply it, the owner did not read the warnings.

The cat’s symptoms included hypothermia, twitching and muscle tremors which progressed to seizures.

There is no antidote to permethrin. She needed 48 hours of intensive care during which she was sedated and supported with intravenous fluids and heat pads to try to maintain a normal body temperature. She improved slowly and took a further three days to be well enough to go home She has now made a full recovery but is very lucky to have survived.

Gillian continued: “I would always advise owners to buy prescription flea products from their own vet. There is quite a range of non-prescription products available so it can be confusing trying to select the right product, and in supermarkets, chemists and large pet shops there may be no-one to give qualified advice.

“Generally speaking, products suitable for dogs are NOT suitable for cats but I have seen some brands that have a product for cats and small dogs which may further confuse the issue and give owners the impression that all products are interchangeable.

“The staff at veterinary practices will be able to give owners appropriate advice on which product to buy and how to use the product.

“This way owners ensure they are giving a safe and effective product to their pet.”