Do you currently use Armitage flea products on your cat? If so, STOP. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate (the people responsible for licensing veterinary products and ensuring their safety) has issued a warning saying that batches of this flea product MAY KILL CATS.

It seems that the manufacturer has accidentally taken a batch of their dog flea treatment and mislabelled it as their cat product. This is incredibly serious – the dog flea treatment contains permethrin, a chemical which safely kills fleas in dogs, but is highly dangerous for cats. It can cause fits, coma and even death.

The manufacturers have issued a recall notice, but there’s concern that the bad batch may already have been sold. If you’re in the habit of buying flea treatment from pet shops or supermarkets then please make sure that you don’t have any of this in your cupboard at home.

If you’ve applied the product to your cat then please contact your vet immediately. The liquid will need to be removed by clipping the hair and washing the area. If it’s the bad batch, there are antidotes which can be given to try to control the muscle tremors and fits, but it could be a very serious problem, so don’t ignore it and hope it doesn’t happen to you.

This is a really unfortunate accident, and we all hope it’s been picked up before it causes any harm. It does highlight the danger of using the wrong flea treatment on your pet. Scarily, you can still buy over the counter – without any advice – flea treatments for cats which contain these deadly permethrins. Several dangerous products have only just been taken off the market.

International Cat Care – an organisation of veterinary surgeons and cat experts from several different countries – have commented on the issue in this article http://icatcare.org/permethrin/products

Another thing to remember is that if you have both cats and dogs, you need to be careful that your cats don’t rub up against or groom the dog when it’s been treated with this sort of flea treatment. As permethrins are absorbed through the skin, they can be transferred from cat to dog when the product is wet. However, it’ll be safe enough when the liquid has dried. Dogs are far more resistant to this type of chemical, so it’s not a problem for them.

The best way of preventing these sorts of problems is to get your flea treatments directly from veterinary surgeons, to make sure that the products are safe for your pets. There are many flea treatments for cats that are far safer than these old-fashioned products. Cats can be treated with safe spot-ons or tablets, liquids and injections, some of which act as a wormer as well. If you’re concerned that what you use on your dog might rub off onto your cat, then consider a monthly all-in-one wormer and flea tablet for your dog instead.

If you have rabbits, especially house rabbits, then they should be treated monthly for fleas too, which is easy to do with a veterinary spot on.

In summary, there are lots of safe and effective flea treatments out there for your pet – why would you take a chance using something which might put their health at risk? Talk to your vet, and they can recommend something safe and effective.