Why Is My Cat Drooling After I Put Flea Medication on Her?

Take quick action to make sure that your cat is not poisoned.
Image Credit: Kseniya Ovchinnikova/Moment/GettyImages

Proper application of flea medication is crucial to prevent flea control product toxicity. Should your cat inadvertently ingest even a small amount of the product, you might notice her beginning to drool excessively. Take quick action — poisoning with some types of flea products can result in rapid death of your pet.

Check the type of medication

Cat and dog flea medications aren't interchangeable, as cats are particularly sensitive to pesticides and should only use flea treatments designed specifically for their use.

Cats are not small dogs — they lack enzymes in their livers that break down potentially toxic ingredients that are safe for dogs, such as permethrin. Ingesting even a small amount of the substance can cause your cat to drool, go into trembling fits, and experience other severe and unpleasant symptoms that require immediate veterinary care.

Don't be confused by cat-based products that list permethrin on their ingredients. According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, these products typically contain less than 0.1 percent of permethrin. Permethrin products for dogs contain 45 to 60 percent.

If your cat is drooling after Advantage flea treatment — or any other flea pesticide designed specifically for felines, chances are your pet will be fine. Selemectin, for example, the main ingredient used in Revolution, produces salivation and vomiting in cats but is generally safe. However, a call to your veterinarian can set your mind at ease. Have the box available so you can go over the list of ingredients and determine whether a trip into the office is advisable.

Apply it beyond his reach

It's important to apply topical flea treatments only where your cat can't accidentally ingest it. Applying the medication between the shoulder blades near the base of the neck is usually the safest place. Some cats can turn their heads and lick near the bottom of their shoulder blades, so be careful that you are not placing it too low on her back.

Don't allow your cat to roll on its back or rub itself against furniture until the flea treatment is thoroughly dried. Should some of the medication rub off, your cat could end up with it in its mouth from the transfer.

Beware of the dog

If you've carefully applied the correct type of pesticide and were careful to apply it out of your cat's reach on the back of their neck and between the shoulders, your other pets might be the source of the problem, according to Pet Poison Helpline.

A cat could groom or play with another feline in your household, transferring the carefully-applied pesticide from that animal into his mouth or onto his fur. The next time he grooms himself, the transferred pesticide comes in contact with his mouth and the drooling begins.

If you have a dog in your home, he may transfer the pesticide from his fur to the carpet, couch or shared bedding, where your cat could come in contact with it. If you have both cats and dogs in your home, avoid using permethrin on your dog to prevent accidentally poisoning your cat through secondhand contact. Keep your dog away from your cat after applying any kind of flea treatment for 72 hours, advises International Cat Care.

Know first aid

If your cat licked flea medication, wash her with a mild detergent such as Dawn dishwashing soap, according to MedVet, to prevent further contamination, then call your veterinarian. Use lukewarm water — hot water can increase the absorption of the toxic pesticide and cold water can cause hypothermia, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Besides drooling, your cat may tremble or become very anxious, according to the ASPCA. Wear leather gloves and long sleeves when handling your cat to avoid getting bitten if your cat is panicking. Cats can easily overheat from tremors, so get him to your vet as quickly as possible.

Get to a vet

Your veterinarian will monitor your cat's internal temperature and administer intravenous fluids to keep it from overheating and dehydrated — cats usually refuse to drink water when they're experiencing symptoms and the muscle activity from tremors makes them lose greater amounts of body fluids.

Your veterinarian will also give your cat medications such as methocarbamol, benzodiazepines, propofol, and sometimes gas anesthesia to stop the trembling. It's likely your cat will stay in the animal hospital for 12 hours or more. Talk to your vet about proper nutritional support when you take your cat home, as they may be too sedated or queasy to return to their regular diet right away.

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