Guidance for cat owners

What can cat owners do?

As with all veterinary products, some animals may be more sensitive to pyrethrins than others and may develop an adverse reaction following treatment.

Pharmaceutical companies are obliged to record any reported side effects that may have been caused by their products and people can contact the company named on the approved product label to report that an animal has had an adverse reaction to a product.

Companies are also required to report this information to the APVMA on an annual basis so we are aware of any post-registration adverse reactions to products. The possible adverse effects in cats which are listed on pyrethrin product labels were identified during clinical research trials using the product; however, these did not occur frequently enough to cause concern with registering the product.

The APVMA is aware that many pet owners discuss problems with veterinary chemical products on email and through social media websites. In most cases there is insufficient information for the APVMA to identify the specific product involved, or to accurately assess the association between the product and the adverse experience. If pets have a reaction to a product when used as directed, we strongly encourage people to report that adverse experience report to the company or to the APVMA.

What about overseas products?

Many pet owners purchase veterinary chemical products online —including flea and tick treatments. These products are often not registered for use in Australia and may put your pet’s health at risk.

Products not registered for use in Australia have not been through the APVMA’s rigorous safety and efficacy assessment process which increases the risk of inadvertently harming your pet and also means; there is no avenue for reporting any adverse experiences related to the product.

You can search the APVMA product database to find out which products are registered for use in Australia.

Read the label

Always carefully read the instructions on the approved label for any veterinary chemical product before you apply it to your animal.

If you are unsure about what any of the instructions or warnings on the label mean ask your veterinarian.

Products containing high concentrations of permethrins have cat prohibition icons on the labels which are designed to clearly indicate that the product should not be used on cats—including that cats should be kept away from any treated dogs during and immediately following treatment.

Labels for products containing pyrethrins and lower concentrations of permethrins that are registered for use on cats also include clear warnings about the possible adverse effects associated with treatments, as well as warnings about when treatment should not be applied, or should be applied with caution.

All product labels state that if an adverse effect is observed a veterinarian should be consulted immediately.

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