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Cat shaking after flea treatment.

Species: Cat
Breed: Tabby
Age: Less than 3 mon
I accidentally treated my kitten with a store bought flea treatment meant for dogs and she began have serious muscle tremors. I immediately washed her with Dawn dish soap and rushed her to our vet. He was incredibly useless and offered little information.
As the night progressed, Abby's shaking subsided and she went from listless to alert within an hour of washing the medicine off. Today, 24 hours later, I notice Abby is still suffering from muscle spasms. We spent much of the night awake as she wanted to eat, drink and use the litter box, but seems to have difficulty with said tasks.
I had to hold her and pet her while she used her box and she has been able to drink, but seems to have difficulty eating as much as she would like, no more than a few pieces at a time. Abby seems to be having this bizarre twitches, I'm assuming neurological effects from the mistreatment. If we are petting her, she doesn't seem to get these triggers. When we aren't petting her, or if we stop, she has a twitch every 15-30 seconds. She will twitch her leg, lick herself, bite herself, etc. Each twitch lasts for about 10 seconds max. I am wondering if these symptoms will subside as the toxic chemicals clear out of her system, or will she have permanent neurological damage?
I don't want her to suffer, but I don't want to rush to have her put to sleep because she presently seems uncomfortable. She is still alert, able to purr, move about, etc.
I apologize this is so lengthy, but please, please, please help!!

Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh I am so sorry to hear that this happened. I get very very frustrated that they are allowed to sell these types of flea products. Many over the counter flea products made for dogs are extremely toxic to cats as you have found out. Also, they do not work very well at all, even on dogs.

I've recommended some good products in this article on fleas.

The good news is that once a cat gets to this stage that you are seeing, she will eventually just keep improving. If a cat is actively seizuring repeatedly then this can be fatal. But at this point when you are just seeing the occasional tremor and twitch. The bad news is that there is not a whole lot you can do to stop the seizures and tremors. A vet can administer an IV medication called methocarbomol to help with pyrethrin toxicity. However most vets don't have this on hand. You may find that an emergency clinic near you has the product. You can ask your vet whether administering methocarbomol is a good idea.

These small twitches and tremors can last up to a week unfortunately. There is likely to be no long term damage as long as she is not seizuring.

I'm assuming you have already bathed her as well? I usually recommend a bath with diluted dawn dishsoap. This will help to remove any residue from the pyrethrins on her.

I hope things improve soon!

Dr. Marie.

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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Yes, I bathed Abby, immediately upon noticing her convulsions, in baby soap and then followed that up with Dawn soap.
She is doing soooo much better now! I just came home from work and she's almost completely back to normal. I really appreciate you responding to my question so promptly. It gave me great peace of mind while I waited for improvement.
Thank you again!

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.