What is Permethrin?
Permethrin belongs to a pyrethroid family of chemicals commonly used to control insects. It can be used on food and feed crops, on ornamental lawns, and on livestock and pets. While permethrin is a frequently used insecticide that is safe around many animals, it is highly toxic to cats.
One of the most commonly reported poisoning in cats is permethrin. These products are NOT safe to use on cats. Permethrin is found in:
- Some dog flea treatments
- Some dog shampoos
- Fly sprays
- Ant powder
Proceed with Great Caution
- If you have a cat in your home, you must be extremely careful when applying any permethrin containing products on other household pets and within your cat’s environment.
- 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.
- For households with dogs and cats, 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. This prevents mutual grooming or even the pets sleeping next to each other, which could result in poisoning if your cat became exposed.
- Exposure to even small quantities of concentrated permethrin can cause severe and fatal poisoning in cats.
Signs of Permethrin Poisoning
- Following exposure to the concentrated permethrin spot-on products, cats can start to exhibit signs of toxicity.
- Signs of permethrin poisoning usually develop within a few hours, but sometimes can be delayed by up to 72 hours. The most obvious signs include:
- Muscle tremors
- Dilated pupils
- If your cat shows any of these symptoms, visit a veterinarian immediately. It is critical that your cat is taken immediately to the veterinarian if you suspect they have been poisoned. Urgent treatment is imperative.
- From recorded cases, anywhere between 10% and 40% of poisoned cats may die or need to be euthanized because of the severity of the poisoning.
For more information, visit the AAFP-endorsed ISFM Protect Against Permethrin Poisoning Campaign.