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Dangers of Tick Repellents to Cats

Tick repellents protect cats from tick bites and the diseases that ticks transmit. These repellents work by either killing ticks on contact or by making the cat’s skin less attractive to ticks, thus reducing the risk of tick bites. While tick repellents can be effective in preventing tick infestation, they also pose serious side effects to cats.

Some of the common side effects of tick repellents include:

· Skin irritation or allergic reactions to the tick repellent, which can cause itching, redness, and swelling.

· Ingesting tick repellents or licking treated areas can cause gastrointestinal problems in cats such as vomiting and diarrhea.

· Tick repellents can have neurological effects on cats, causing tremors, seizures, ataxia, and other neurological symptoms.

· Inhaling certain tick repellents can cause respiratory problems in cats, such as coughing and wheezing.

· Some cats may exhibit behavioral changes after being treated with tick repellents, such as lethargy, depression, and loss of appetite.

A key ingredient in tick repellents called isoxazoline is linked to neurological side effects in cats and dogs. The FDA’s website has specific warning for tick repellents. Due to the serious nature of some of these side effects, New England Cat Care does not promote or prescribe their use. While the risk of tick-borne illness is a concern, the side effects of preventative medications outweigh the benefits. To avoid the risk of tick related problems, we strongly recommend that your cat be kept indoors. If your cat must venture outside, try to avoid permitting them access during certain times of the year when tick populations are high.

Cat tick repellent products that contain isoxazoline that are approved by the FDA:

  • Bravecto (fluralaner) topical solution for cats and dogs

  • Bravecto Plus (fluralaner and moxidectin) topical solution for cats

  • Credelio (lotilaner) tablets for dogs and cats

  • Revolution Plus (selamectin and sarolaner) topical solution for cats

If you are concerned that your cat has had a reaction to a medication containing tick repellents, please call our office immediately at 203-387-6369 or any pet emergency room.

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