• Using oral or topical flea & tick preparations or collars?
• Dosing your pet with heartworm medication?
• Using ant, roach or other pesticides inside or outside your home?
• Letting your cat roam on chemically treated lawns?
• Using weed-killers or insecticides on your indoor or outdoor plants?
All of these chemicals have potentially toxic side effects. Cats are extremely sensitive; adverse reactions can be deadly.
Even more concerning is the recent focus on topical (spot-on) flea and tick products.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has increased restrictions and label requirements on both prescription and over-the-counter spot-on pesticides for flea and tick control. The EPA received more than 44,000 reports of potential toxic incidents associated with flea and tick products in 2008 alone; the majority involved spot-on products. Reported toxicities ranged from skin irritation to seizures and death. Every single EPA-approved product has been implicated in illness and/or death in pets.
Many reactions are due to misuse, such as giving a dose that is inappropriate for the pet’s size, or applying a product designed for a dog to a cat (the latter being the most common cause of severe or fatal reactions in cats). Products made for dogs are extremely toxic to cats. Toxicity can also occur when cats come into contact with a recently-treated dog, or lick the area while the product is still wet.
There are many safe, natural alternatives to harsh and dangerous chemicals. You can protect your cat (and the environment) without poisons by:
- Feeding a natural, homemade or raw diet instead of processed pet foods
- Strengthening the immune system with antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids
- Using natural alternatives to steroids, antibiotics, and other pharmaceuticals
- Protecting the immune and nervous systems by not over-vaccinating
- Using only natural, non-toxic household cleaners like vinegar, lemon juice, or baking soda; and lavender or aromatherapy hydrosols instead of artificial air fresheners
- Choosing natural, safe insect repellents such as herbal shampoo containing Canadian fleabane (Erigeron spp.) or Neem, and appropriate supplements
- Gardening with organic fertilizers, natural insect repellents, diatomaceous earth, or beneficial predators (such as ladybugs, praying mantis, or nematodes)
- Keep your cat indoors to minimize the risk of disease transmission from ticks, fleas, biting flies, and mosquitoes
NOTE: The very best source of information I’ve found on safe, natural flea control for cats is Liz Eastwood’s ebook, Natural Flea Conrol for Cats Made Simple. For $1.99, this ebook (available at Amazon.com) is a no-brainer if you want to keep your cat healthy and flea-free forever! (You don’t need a Kindle to read this book; Amazon has a free app for PC, Mac, and smartphones.)