Here at Micro ID we don’t just specialise in pet supplies, we like to look out for our furry friends too! Permethrin is an ingredient that is found in flea protection which is designed to be used for dogs. However, it is a substance that is very dangerous to cats and there have been an increasing number of cases where it has been administered to cats with potentially fatal consequences.
Leading animal charities and pet healthcare brands believe that the reason why this seems to be happening more frequently is because products that contain permethrin are on general sale in a number of stores. Many shop assistants themselves are probably not aware of the danger that these products pose to cats and therefore cannot warn their customers when they purchase such a product.
Calls for reclassification
There have been calls for these products to be reclassified by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) to ‘restricted sales’, instead of ‘general sales’ which is their current classification. This would mean that products containing permethrin could only be sold by certain qualified people such as pharmacists or vets. These people would then be on hand to provide specialist advice to anyone purchasing a product that has permethrin as an ingredient and to make sure that they fully understand the dangers if this type of flea treatment was administered to a cat. They would also be able to suggest alternative treatments that could protect cats against fleas that would not cause any unwanted side effects.
The difference between cats and dogs
The reason that permethrin is safe for dogs but so dangerous for cats lies in the differences in their digestive systems and diets. The digestive tract of a cat has evolved to allow for the fact that cats are very skilled hunters. This has led to them developing sensitivity to certain chemicals, such as permethrin, that can cause them serious neurological problems. They are not able to break permethrin down in their bodies in the same way that dogs can because cats do not have the enzyme glucuronyltransferase present in their bodies. It only takes a small amount of permethrin to cause these neurological problems, which in many cases are fatal.
Some action has been taken by pet healthcare brands who have withdrawn products that contain permethrin from sale in supermarkets. It is hoped that by doing so the number of people who have not been informed of the danger the product poses if it was administered to a cat will be reduced. It is hoped that other companies that produce flea treatments with permethrin as an ingredient will soon take the same action. If this is the case it will go a long way to lowering the number of cases of cats being treated with products containing permethrin because their owners do not realise how dangerous it is to their feline friends.
Possibly the best course of action, however, is education. So, if you know a cat owner, please share this article with them so that they can be made aware of the dangers that permethrin poses to their pet.