Tetramethrin and Cypermethrin are highly toxic insecticides that present a danger to animals. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) about 20 per cent of calls to the animal poison control centres are related to insecticides. Insecticides are commonly used on our pets for flea control and around our houses to control crawling and flying bugs. The most serious poisonings occur when products not appropriate for use on cats are applied to them.
Tetramethrin and Cypermethrin are known as pyrethroids, synthesised from the natural extract of the African chrysanthemum flower. Cats are more sensitive because they have metabolisms that are slower and cannot digest toxins the way dogs do. Cats also have extensive grooming habits that involve licking their long fur coats, which would have them ingesting large doses of pyrethroids. When cats are exposed to these chemicals, they get itchy hives, congestion, respiratory distress and can suffer from shock.
Reactions can vary, depending on the size of the cat and the amount of exposure. Mild reactions can include excessive salivation, ear twitching, paw flicking, mild depression or irritability, diarrhoea, vomiting and hypothermia. Treatment typically involves a bath in lukewarm water with a non-toxic detergent to wash off all insecticide residue.
Moderate to Severe Reactions
If a cat exposed to these chemicals continues to vomit and experience diarrhoea, hospitalisation is required. Moderate to severe symptoms also include a deeper prolonged depression, muscle tremors and near complete loss of coordination including seizures. Intravenous fluids are usually introduced to maintain hydration. Valium is also utilised to control seizures or tremors. Even with moderate to severe symptoms a cat can recovery in 2-3 days.
Pyrethroid toxicosis leading to death usually occurs when owners misuse dog tick repellent on their cat. Exposure of cats to these products results in as much as 97 per cent of cats needing clinical care with a 10.5 per cent death rate for all cats treated, according to Petside.com.
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- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Animal Poison Control Center: Top 10 Pet Toxins of 2010
- Pet Med: Flea and Tick Medicine Poisoning in Cats
- Toxicpedia: Tetramethrin
- North Seattle Veterinary Clinic: PYRETHRIN AND PYRETHROID TOXICITY
- Cat World: Pyrethrin & Pyrethroid Poisoning in Cats - Causes, Symptoms & Treatment