Permethrin poisoning in cats

Cats, unfortunately, are very vulnerable to attack by fleas, terribly annoying parasites that multiply incessantly throughout the spring and summer. Its caregivers 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 , as well as serious.

What are permethrins?


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 the sodium channels that are open in nerve cells, blocks them. 

Once we put them on 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 unable to process them due to a deficiency of the liver enzyme glucuronosyl transferase.

What are the symptoms that they produce in cats?


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 anywhere from a few hours to three days , so we have to be very vigilant.

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

Can poisoning be treated?


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

In any case, the most advisable thing is to  take it urgently 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?


Of course: you should never apply permethrin to the cat or its environment (not dogs, if they live with cats) . 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 (be careful not to wet the plants), remove the herbs and pruning debris, and also use a spray that does not harm the felines , such as 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 so on can be, try to stay calm. You have to use common sense and look for the good of our furry .

From experience I know that permethrin are very effective insecticides to eliminate all kinds of pests from the garden, 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 be in any danger from insecticides.


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