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Cat owners warned over 'accidental' flea treatment poisoning

Scratchy the cat Image copyright PDSA
Image caption Scratchy the cat was accidentally poisoned by the flea treatment after coming into contact with the family dog

Vets are warning pet owners after a series of cat poisonings caused by flea treatments intended for dogs.

The animal welfare charity PDSA said it was seeing about 20 cases of accidental poisonings a month.

The charity said some owners did not realise the treatments should not be given to cats. In other cases cats were being poisoned by contact with dogs.

It has backed a campaign by fellow charity International Cat Care to change the licensing of the products.

'Totally preventable'

PDSA said flea products containing a toxic insecticide called permethrin, could be fatal if given to cats.

Pet owner Debbie Barker, from Stoke-on-Trent, urged people to be careful after her cat, Scratchy, was poisoned.

"I bought some flea treatment for my dog Coco to prevent her getting any infestations. I knew I had to keep her separated from the cat for a while," she said.

"After a couple of days I allowed Scratchy and Coco to play with each other.

"But the following morning, Scratchy became really poorly; he was being sick and was foaming at the mouth. I knew straight away it was poisoning."

Image copyright PDSA
Image caption Charity PDSA said much-loved cats were suffering "terrible reactions" to the flea treatments

Although Scratchy was successfully treated, Ms Barker said: "I would advise other pet owners to be careful about which products they buy, especially if they own a dog and a cat."

PDSA senior vet Sean Wensley said: "Many cats are continuing to fall victim to accidental poisoning by certain flea treatments.

"This oversight is having devastating consequences, with many much-loved cats suffering terrible reactions including respiratory and neurological problems, convulsions and tremors."

International Cat Care is petitioning for it to be a legal requirement for customers buying the products to be given verbal advice before the purchase.

Chief executive Claire Bessant said: "These cat deaths are totally preventable."

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