Permethrin poisoning in cats

Cat scratching

Cats, unfortunately, are very vulnerable to the attack of fleas, terribly annoying parasites that multiply incessantly throughout the spring and summer. Their caretakers therefore have the obligation to keep them protected, not only for their good but also to prevent them from reaching the dimension of plague.

Sometimes, pretending to help them, we put products that are very harmful, such as certain insecticides. While it is something that can be easily avoided by simply reading the labels, the reality is that permethrin poisoning in cats is usually quite common, besides serious.

What are permethrins?

Permethrin scheme

Permethrins are pyrethroid insecticides. These are synthetic analogs of pyrethrins, which are substances that are extracted from the flowers of a plant known as a chrysanthemum. Permethrin is a neurotoxin that, together with open sodium channels in nerve cells, blocks them. 

Once we put them to the animals through a pipette, the permethrins are processed in the liver, and from there they pass to the rest of the body. When, for example, a flea bites him, he dies instantly. However, they should never be applied to cats, as they are not able to process them due to a deficiency of the liver enzyme glucuronosyl transferase.

What are the symptoms that they produce in cats?

Sad tabby cat

If a cat has been exposed, either because of an insecticide containing permethrin or because it has touched the ground or a plant that has been treated with it and then licked itself, it may not show any symptoms at first. In fact, these can take from a few hours to three daysSo we have to be very vigilant.

The signs of poisoning are: muscle tremors, salivation, seizures, dilated pupils, loss of orientation, and in severe cases, coma and death.

Can poisoning be treated?

Bathing a kitten

Yes, but you have to know that the prognosis may be uncertain. The treatment will consist of bathing the cat in lukewarm water and mild dish soap right after it has been exposed. This is to remove as much product as possible, preventing it from being absorbed through the skin.

Anyway, the best thing to do is urgently take him to the vet. Once there, you will be treated with muscle relaxants, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates. You will most likely need to spend a few days in the hospital to recover.

Is there any way to prevent it?

Young orange cat

Of course: you should never apply, neither to the cat nor to its environment (not dogs, if they live with cats) permethrin. If we have fleas at home, it will always be better to put a pipette that only eliminates parasites, such as Stronghold, Frontline or Virbac, and clean the home well.

If we have parasites in the garden, we can add boiling water (being careful not to wet the plants), remove herbs and pruning debris, and also use a spray that does not harm the cats, like the one in Frontline. It is more expensive than a conventional insecticide, but, of course, it is better to spend the money on a product that is safe for them than on another that, even when used carefully, can end up killing your best friend.

Really, as annoying as ticks, fleas, and more can be, try to stay calm. You have to use common sense and look for the good of our furry.

From experience I know permethrin are very effective insecticides to eliminate all types of garden pests, but they are not selective; that is, they will remove anything that comes into contact with them, beneficial insects or not, which is a shame. In addition, if we live with domestic animals, and especially if they are cats, we must do everything possible so that they are well, without having to run any danger from insecticides.

I hope this article helps the number of permethrin poisonings in cats to decrease.

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