Potential Problems with Cat Flea Control Products

Cat flea control involves the use of medical solutions formulated to kill ticks, fleas and mites. The most common flea that affects cats is known as Ctenocephalides felis. Pet owners can detect flea infections in pets if they brush their cats with a flea comb. The flea comb will often reveal flea dirt that warns pet owners about flea infections.

Fleas are a big cause for concern as they spread diseases such as flea anemia, tapeworm infections and flea allergy dermatitis. There are various commercial products such as flea shampoos, spot-on medicines, oral tablets and medicated powders that are used to control fleas in cats. However, certain ingredients in flea control products contain insecticides that pose potential problems after use.

Problems of Cat Flea Control Products

Although there are several flea control products that can be safely used on pets, pet owners should read and follow package instructions, as cats in general are sensitive to many insecticides. Pet owners should also refrain from using any dog flea products on cats as they're very toxic to felines. It's also best to avoid using flea products that contain organophosphates as cats are more sensitive to organophosphate insecticides than other pets.


Organophosphates are chemical ingredients that are found in many flea control products. They can be extremely toxic to pets if they are used inappropriately or if used in combination with other medications. Pets that experience organophosphate toxicity exhibit many symptoms of neurological reaction in cats. Pet owners should watch for sudden behavior changes and seek prompt medical help.

Symptoms of Organophosphate Toxicity in Cats:

  • Drooling
  • Depression
  • Difficult breathing
  • Convulsions
  • Weakness

Flea Control Products Containing Permethrin

Commercially available flea control products that contain permethrin can be safely used on dogs. However, products containing permethrin should never be used on cats as even a few drops of concentrated permethrin can be fatal. Flea control products that contain permethrin formulated for use on cats contain very small amounts of permethrin which is generally less than 0.1 percent. Cats exposed to inappropriate amounts of permethrin develop permethrin toxicosis that causes recurring seizures. Emergency medical help is necessary to prevent death.

Risks of Flea Control Products

Pet owners should also exert caution when using flea control products on their pets as cat eyes, ears and genitalia are sensitive and may become irritated. Pets should also be kept in open areas to prevent eye irritation due to fumes. Although many flea control products are labeled natural, they contain harsh ingredients like d-limonene and linalool and pet owners should read product labels before buying them.

Tips for Flea Control

  • Routine pet bathing and grooming, reduces the occurrence of flea infections.
  • Insect growth regulators such as methoprene and lufenuron may be effective when used in combination with other flea control products.
  • Pets should be monitored carefully after treatment to detect any toxicity in time.
  • After using flea control medication, the household should be ventilated to prevent the inhalation of harmful fumes.
  • It's best to follow preventive flea methods to avoid the use of chemical products on cats. Pet owners should also contact the vet if in doubt about product usage.