An important part of basic health care for cats is providing preventive products to avoid infestations of fleas and ticks. Keeping your cat free of infestations not only prevents discomfort, it can also prevent some of the illnesses that can be acquired from these blood sucking parasites. Choosing the proper products and using them in a proper fashion is very important. Here we will discuss ways to keep your cat, yourself, and others safe when using these products.
When deciding which cat products to use, you need to carefully read the labels on all products. It’s very important that you purchase the correct dosage for your cat, and that you use only products that have been approved for your cat’s particular age, weight, and health status. Use special care if your cat is very young, very old, pregnant, nursing, sick or debilitated, or if she has had a previous sensitivity to any of these products.
Cats should never be given products designed for use on dogs (nor should you use your cat products on your dog, if you have one). If you have any concerns, or are unsure about which cat products would be best, ask your veterinarian’s advice, even if you are planning to purchase your flea and tick products from a pet store or online supplier.
Once you’ve read all the directions for proper application, be sure that you use only the amount required for your cat. Do not use more product than indicated and do not use more than one product at one time. One product (spot-on or spray, etc.) should be all that is necessary to kill or repel fleas and/or ticks for the time period indicated on the package.
To prevent accidental contact with flea and tick products during application, you can wear disposable gloves to protect your skin. Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water after application can also reduce exposure to the chemicals. Read instructions for proper disposal of empty product containers after use, and keep children and other pets from touching or playing with the cat after application to allow the flea and tick product time to absorb or dry.
For the several hours following application of a flea and tick preventive product, keep an eye on your cat for any reactions or sensitivity to the product (vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, seizures, severe depression, etc.). This is especially important when using a flea and tick product for the first time. Keep the packaging for the product for at least a day after application so that you have information as to the kind of ingredients used, as well as contact information for the company that manufactured the product.
If you notice any unusual behavior shortly after applying a preventive product, call your veterinarian immediately. Bathe your cat completely in soapy water and rinse its coat with copious amounts of water.
Due to increased incidents of reactions to spot-on products in dogs and cats, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about their use in 2009. The FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are working together to improve safety and reduce adverse effects in pets. In order to do this, the EPA is working to address certain aspects of safety, such as improving labeling and simplifying instructions on packaging. They are monitoring any reports of adverse effects and keeping track of incidence reports.
If you believe your cat has had an adverse reaction to a flea or tick preventive product, call your veterinarian and report the problem right away. Your veterinarian has access to a national reporting center that will inform the EPA. You may also wish to inform the company that manufactured the product. All manufacturers are required to report any incidents to the EPA. Contact information should be clearly indicated on the packaging for the product.