Ashton: I’m really glad we don’t have a dog. You know what I just learned? It’s a song that goes like this, “My dog has fleas.”
Ashton: I don’t want fleas!
Pierre: You don’t just get fleas from dogs, Ashton. Cats who go outside get fleas all on their own, especially in warmer weather.
Ashton: No way!
Pierre: What’s worse is the things that used to work to get rid of them aren’t working very well any more. When you arrived as a kitten and gave us all fleas, we all were dosed with Frontline. But now it isn’t working very well because fleas are becoming resistant to its active ingredient.
Ashton: Sorry. I didn’t mean to bring you fleas.
Pierre: The scary thing is that people who are looking for something effective against fleas sometimes want to try the spot-on treatments for dogs on their cats, too. That can be dangerous, because a lot of them contain pyrethrin.
Ashton: What do you know about this pyrethrin stuff?
Pierre: I know that even though she doesn’t like to talk about it, the head peep’s childhood cat died of pyrethrin toxicity from repeated flea dips.
Ashton: Is that dip like with chips? I like chips and dip.
Pierre: No, it’s a bath. In water.
Ashton: In WATER?!
Pierre: I was in the vet waiting room a few years ago when a cat was rushed in who was treated with a full dog’s dose of a pyrethrin-filled spot-on treatment. It was bad. I don’t ever want that stuff on me. And people should know to keep it off of their cats, too.
Ashton: It sounds really bad. What does it do?
Pierre: It interferes with normal nerve conduction, and it causes full-body tremors, like seizures, elevated body temperature, and muscle damage. Cats suffering from pyrethrin toxicity can suffer permanent nervous system damage and even die.
Ashton: That’s awful. If we don’t have pyrethrin on us, how do we get rid of the fleas?
Pierre: We are indoor cats and don’t have to worry about fleas. We haven’t since you arrived with your fleas.
Ashton: I said I was sorry. Don’t rub it in.
Pierre: If humans need to find something to get rid of fleas, they should look for the feline versions of flea treatments to be sure that none of the ingredients are things that cats can’t handle. And remember that only a small fraction of fleas are on a cat at any time, so consider using food-grade diatomaceous earth to control fleas around your home instead of pyrethrin-laden sprays or foggers. The main thing to know is that you can’t just split a large dog dose of flea killer among several cats and know it’s safe. It could very well not be.
Ashton: I would rather not have fleas at all.
Pierre: We all would! Let’s hope that this is another flea-free year.
Ashton: Hey, TAKE THAT BACK!
Miami Herald, PetVet: Fleas become resistnt to typical Treatments
PetMD, Flea and Tick Medicine Poisoning in Cats