Feline toxicities – protect against permethrin poisoning

Editor's note: This article was contributed by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP).

The topical application to cats of flea control products marketed for dogs containing permethrins constitutes a major portion of feline toxicities reported to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. These incidents generally occur as either deliberate application of the product to a cat by an owner unaware of the dangers, or by the indirect exposure of cats to those products via such things as grooming of dogs on whom these products have recently been applied.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has recently endorsed the International Society of Feline Medicine’s (ISFM) Protect Against Permethrin Poisoning Campaign.

We need to encourage and educate pet owners to be extremely careful when applying any permethrin-containing products either on pets, or within the pet’s environment. Be sure to relay to only use treatments that are licensed for cats, as they do not contain a toxic level of permethrin as some canine spot-on treatments may contain.

During canine veterinary visits, be sure to take a full pet history for the entire household. Ask the owner if they have cats in the household. For households with dogs and cats, educate owners to either use spot-on products that do not contain permethrin to avoid accidental exposure, or keep the pets apart until the dog’s treatment has dried.

Since exposure to even small quantities of concentrated permethrin can cause severe and fatal poisoning in cats, pet owners who suspect their cat may have been exposed should seek veterinary attention immediately.  

“Veterinary practices should be aware of the clinical signs of permethrin poisoning. It must be included in the differential for any cats presented for hypersalivation, anxiousness, muscle tremors, or seizures. Prompt treatment of such cases is necessary for the cat's survival,” says Gerry Beekman, DVM, AAFP Feline Welfare Committee.

The AAFP has additional information including details on the Permethrin Poisoning Campaign as well as signs and symptoms.

You can also educate pet owners by sharing or linking to the AAFP Permethrin Poisoning and Cats page.

About the American Association of Feline Practitioners 

The American Association of Feline Practitioners improves the health and welfare of cats by supporting high standards of practice, continuing education and scientific investigation. The AAFP has a long-standing reputation and track record in the veterinary community for facilitating high standards of practice and publishes guidelines for practice excellence which are available to veterinarians at the AAFP website. Over the years, the AAFP has encouraged veterinarians to continuously re-evaluate preconceived notions of practice strategies in an effort to advance the quality of feline medicine practiced. The Cat Friendly Practice program is the newest effort created to improve the treatment, handling and overall healthcare provided to cats. Its purpose is to equip veterinary practices with the tools, resources and information to elevate the standard of care provided to cats. Find more information at www.catvets.com.