Around a year ago, he was doing a great deal of grooming but because he is normally a very fastidious cat (of Far Eastern parentage we think, although via Battersea….) I did not initially pay much attention. However, when it continued I thought, rather guiltily, that I had not flea treated any of the cats for ages, indeed years, as I really dislike using chemical flea treatments unless I absolutely have to. So I treated him with some Frontline. Most of it went on the back of his neck as directed, with a few drops falling on the top of his head.
Initially the excessive grooming appeared to diminish but then I noticed that his fur (which is particularly soft and silky) was falling out in the two places in which I had put the FrontLine….. Soon he had two little bald patches – and, the grooming was getting worse accompanied by lots of scratching. Soon he was scratching himself raw with red ulcers appearing all down his back and round his hind quarters….. A visit to the vet showed up nothing very much so, we changed diet and they gave him a Cortisone injection to see if it is would calm it down – which it did, but only for a week. The diet made no difference. I did ask the vet whether the FrontLine treatment could have caused the problems since they seemed to date from the treatment, but was told that the treatment was extremely unlikely to cause more than a very brief, local reactions.
So more Cortisone pills but they only worked as long as he was taking them and long term steroid medication has as many unsavoury side effects for cats as for humans. Faced with allergy tests which could mount up to around up to over £1000 if we did the lot, I tracked down a homeopathic vet and took him there.
The homeopathic treatment was certainly much more successful than the allopathic treatment had been and gradually the itching and hives calmed down and his fur started to regrow – in some areas of his back he had literally licked his fur off completely. However, he was obviously still not feeling at all himself as instead of buzzing around with his nose into everything as normal (another characteristic of oriental cats) he spent most of his time sleeping in as dark a corner as he could find.
It has really taken another four or five months for him to slowly return to his old self, although he still does have small bald patches both on the back of his neck and on the top of his head. I had finally decided that maybe he had actually eaten some lilies (known to be toxic to cats) that I had had in a vase, as he does have a habit of eating flowers, and had poisoned himself – and thought no more of it except to be relieved that he had obviously recovered.
Until our webmaster sent me a link to an article on the Dr Mercola site:
Spot on flea and tick treatment: Never ever apply this to your cats… Can kill within hours!
The article talked mainly about cat fatalities caused by the application of dog flea products but, although figures are now quite old, it quoted 44,000 reported incidents involving pets and flea treatment in 2008 (in the US) of which 600 were fatalities – an increase from 28,00 in the previous year (2007). Goodness knows what they are now! And….. ‘Adverse reactions for both dogs and cats were primarily skin, GI tract and nervous system related. Skin reactions included redness, itching, hair loss, sores and ulcers.’ Exactly what had happened to Mushkin.
In 2010 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a free public webinar on the subject and they called for new labelling including much more stringent warnings about pet size – the majority of pets who had adverse reactions were small dogs and cats. However, very little appears to have changed in the US and, as far as I know, there are no warnings issued here at all. Certainly, when I bought my supplies, no one warned me against anything except not using it regularly!!
Anyhow, for those of you with pets, you might wish to check into the Mercola site where he also gives some helpful suggestions for alternative, non chemical flea and tick treatments including essential oils (but check with an aromatherapist who works with animals to make sure they are appropriate), cedar oil which you can get formulated for pet pest control, diatomaceous earth and garlic….