Sunday, March 6, 2011

Try to save $3, spent hundreds to save your kitty

Last night, we received a phone call from a concerned owner.  Their cat, Princess, a 2 year old cat, was acting very bizarre; the owners were concerned that she was experiencing seizures.  She was indoor only, lived with two other cats, and had not been sick before.  The technician inquired as to if there was any medications or products that had been given or applied to Princess.  The family remembered that earlier that morning they had applied an over the counter flea product not recommended by their veterinarian.   My technician recommended that the come in immediately and bring the packaging from the applied product with them.

Upon arrival, Princess was experiencing generalized muscle twitching and tremors.  She was not seizing, as she was conscious, but was instead unable to control her muscle activity.  Her eyes blinked uncontrollably, her ears flicked, and her body twitched rhythmically.  I suspected flea product toxicity, and the packaging confirmed my suspicion; a permethin based over-the-counter product.  Permethrin products are an older generation of flea control; they are typically a few dollars cheaper than currently recommended and approved products.  Permethrin can have serious, even deadly, results when applied to cats.  Cats can also experience toxicity if products are applied to dogs in their household (especially if the cats and dogs sleep in the same locations, or spend a lot of time in contact with each other).

We bathed Princess to remove the offending product; we placed an intravenous catheter and started muscle-relaxant medication.  She improved, but the tremors did not resolve completely and she was hospitalized for monitoring.  Over the next 12 hours, her tremors were difficult to control and her owners considered euthanasia.  I asked them for permission to treat her with administration of intravenous lipids; a recent advance in human and veterinary medicine; this treatment has been life-saving in overdosages of certain medications and ingestion of toxins.  The owners reluctantly agreed, as their budget for her care was nearly gone.

I started the intravenous lipids; and within minutes, the results were amazing.  She was able to stand, her tremors nearly resolved, and she began to purr and beg for food.  As the infusion continued, she continued to resolve her symptoms.  Several hours later, she was normal.

Her ecstatic family came and took her home that evening.  She's never looked back!  I'm sure that Princess will enjoy many more years with her people and they'll never apply a cheap product -- this time, trying to save a few dollars actually cost them hundreds, and almost killed their kitty.

This case highlights the importance of talking to your veterinarian before giving ANY medications or applying any sort of product to your pet.  Just because a pet-store employee or your friend tells you a product is okay to use does not mean that they know what they are talking about.  "Natural" does not mean that the product is non-toxic (for example, several types of lilies, an all "natural" flowering plant, are fatal to cats if any portion of the plant is ingested.  There are hundreds of other examples of so-called natural products that are toxic, or even fatal to humans and animals). Veterinary approved flea products have been proven safe in clinical studies, have a track record of effective prevention and treatment of pests, and furthermore, have very, very little risk of adverse reaction.  In my opinion, products which contain permethrins should never be used on cats, or even in households that contain cats.



  1. I am unbelievably stoked to hear that you used lipids to such great success! I've been DYING to try it, but I can't remember the last permethrin, ivermectin, or baclofen dog I've seen. Liposyn is on back order, and we haven't been able to get Intralipid, so we plan on getting it from the human hospital when we need it...but I am dying dying dying to do it!

  2. it was my first personal experience -- we just got it after 8 months of waiting due to the backorder. It was almost too good to be true -- the only problem right now is that it's more expensive than it has been because of the shortage. Still, it works so fast that it's cheaper than the traditional 24-48h in the hospital on robaxin. you'll be so excited when you see the results!