Cat Shampoo Poisoning

By Rudolph Furtado (Mumbai, India)

Bolfo Shampoo
Bolfo Shampoo
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

For all cat owners here is the account of my 5 year old tomcat Matata almost succumbing to “Shampoo poisoning“. On Friday (25-7-2014) I gave tomcat Matata an anti-flea shampoo bath using “Bayo Pet Brand Bolfo Shampoo” which recommended for both dogs and cats.

After the bath everything was normal and he dried naturally. Next morning I found cat vomit and initially thought that it was cat Matahari that had vomited as she normally did vomit her hairballs.

In the afternoon I found vomit with traces of blood and realized that it was tomcat Matata who was sick. He had vomited after a bath once before and seems that the shampoo chemical ingredient was ingested into his system by fur licking, a normal practice of any cat.

I was worried as unlike cat Matahari I could never ever take Matata to the veterinarian as he was scared and vicious when caged or handled by strangers, akin to a wild cat. Being akin to a leopard, the only method of examining him was by tranquillising him, bizarre for a pet house cat.

I decided to treat him myself and kept him on a more liquid diet of mince meat/soup avoiding adding of carbohydrates like rice, his normal food. The blood vomiting gradually decreased although the vomiting didn’t subside, it just became less frequent.

In my deepest thoughts I thought that I would lose him to accidental poisoning hoping that he would recover with my feeding methods as cats are very resilient animals.

Finally on Monday (28-7-2014) his vomiting stopped and he became his normal self, eating hearty normal rice/minced meat food and also passing normal stools.

Cat Matata has used one of his 9 lives, the closest he had come to death due to accidental shampoo poisoning. Cat owners please beware of the “Anti Flea/Tick Shampoo” that you use for your pet cat as some shampoo’s can be harmful and even kill your cat as it almost happened to tomcat Matata.

Most anti-Flea/tick shampoos are manufactured for dogs and are not meant for cats as their system is more delicate than dogs, besides, cats can’t be thoroughly wiped dry after a bathe unlike dogs.

At times some of the shampoo solution might remain on the cats fur and later licking of the fur by the cat causes the poisoning in the animal.

Check his biography :-

I have posted a photo of the “Shampoo bottle” that almost killed tomcat Matata. Notice the advertisement of the dog and cat on the bottle!

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

20 thoughts on “Cat Shampoo Poisoning”

  1. Ruth (Monty's Mom)

    I am so glad Matata is ok! How horrible for you and for him!

    Monty’s vet likes to harp on the fact that Monty does not receive any treatment for fleas. He pushes me to treat Monty for fleas despite the fact that neither he nor I has ever found a flea on Monty or any evidence of a flea on Monty.

    Flea treatments carry risks. Those not as lucky as Monty and I have to find ways to deal with flea infestations, because fleas can really harm your pet as well as being annoying. But I continue to maintain that the risks of treating fleas on a cat who has never shown evidence of having even one flea on him are not worth it.

    As much as I would love to bring Monty places with me, where he could play on his leash and explore new territory, I have decided against ever doing this since once outside of our yard he probably would pick up fleas, necessitating putting him through treatment to get rid of the fleas. He will have to be content with sniffing around his own yard only. Luckily, he is very content with that situation.

  2. On behalf of tomcat “Matata” i thank Michael for highlighting this “Poisoning Case” for all readers and writers of “P.O.C”.Debating the subject on pet shampoo’s for cats has given rise to various opinions and suggestions but the ultimate conclusion seems that no particular “Anti Flea Shampoo” is totally safe for cats.”P.O.C” is a day to day encyclopedia on cats thanks to all of us being frank in our opinions and suggestions about our pet cats.Tomcat Matata has totally recovered from his near death experience and is his normal self, more of dog than cat behaviour !

    1. We are pleased Matata got over his poisoning. For me the moral is that flea treatments can be dangerous. I am not sure enough cat owners realise it. Thanks for sharing Rudolph.

  3. hi Dee. Thanks for reposting Michael’s article. Yes I have used Advantage with no adverse affects. It suddenly became unavailable so i now only use Frontline and the Turkish equivalent by Teknovet. So far so good, but I don’t have to use it very often except during Spring when ticks get to my outside toms.
    Being wary of dog flea treatments on cats is not an issue when the ingredients are the same. One should always read the list of ingredients.

  4. Hi Dee. The ingredients are the same for both cats and dogs, Fipronil and (S) Methoprene. The larger pipettes are sold as if only for dogs because it is a one dose treatment for animals up to 60 kgs. They would get annoyed and invent all kinds of objections if they knew people were smart enough to use those big pipettes for up to 10 large cats. That cuts the cost enormously, but now I use a Turkish product with the same ingredients by Teknovet. The big Pharmas don’t have it so easy here and competition is effective.

  5. I have used Frontline-plus for a long time and never had any problems with the cats or kittens. Kittens get 2 drops on the top of the head right onto the skin and adults get 5-7 drops according to size. I use the size for dogs 40-60 kg so that I can treat up to 10 cats from one pipette. Of course the Vet said I should use the cat size pipettes and gave a very unconvincing explanation how my way wouldn’t work. How come it works perfectly and saves a lot of money?

    1. Thanks Harvey. Didn’t know about Frontline.
      I use Advantage XL dog and it treats 5 adult cats in one pipette. Never had a problem.
      But, I never want to divulge a lot of unfo because I don’t want folks to miscalculate dosages and cause harm.

        1. Always very cautious, Michael.
          Every caretaker I know does the same.
          And, be advised that the original Advantage doesn’t carry the risk that AdvantageII does. They are different by one ingredient.

    2. I am pleased we both use Frontline. I have not used it for months though because – touch wood – there are no fleas in my new home or surrounding area. Charlie goes outside and as yet he no fleas; not for months now. I suppose the other cats who use the area are treated and flea-free.

      1. Ruth (Monty's Mom)

        You are lucky, Michael, as are Monty and I. There were HUGE fleas where I used to live, and if not treated our cats would end up covered with them. We did have one cat have an adverse reaction to a flea collar, poor thing. He survived and improved immediately when we realized what the problem was.

  6. Wow! I’m so happy that Matata is OK.

    I think that the last flea bath I ever gave to a cat was around 1975.
    There were none of the products available today.

    Ofcourse, the flea drops are a poison, but there is no other way to go in a climate like this with a multicat household. If not used, I would have a home infested, cats infested, and all with tapeworms to treat. There is no sense in treating tapeworms if the fleas aren’t eliminated.

    That the drops are applied where a cat can’t reach eliminates the problem of paw licking from shampoos and sprays that are applied all over. I get livid when I see a neighbor spraying their precious gardens with insecticides that cats will walk in, lick their paws, and die.

    There is a drop product for dogs that is safe for cats. People usually go this route to save considerable money if they have many cats. But, it has to be dosed properly.

    The bottom line is that caretakers need to READ ingredients on packages and know what are unsafe.

    1. Additionally, I am of the belief that no cat needs to be fully bathed at all unless they have rolled in a dead, flat frog in the road.

  7. -A note of advice: ALL flea and tick products
    contain poisons [ active ingredients listed on the labels of various flea and tick control shampoos, dips, sprays, powders, foggers, etc. the information on those flea and tick control products used on dogs and cats. Note: For completeness, information on ingredients that should not be used in cats but are found in products for dogs (e.g., permethrin and amitraz) A patient with pyrethroid toxicity will salivate, tremor, vomit, and may seizure. If these signs occur, consult your veterinarian immediately.

    Permethrin and most other pyrethroids should NOT be used on kittens or cats. Please research for natural remedies & treat your indoor areas first[ without animals in the house if spraying & or fogging ! for at least four hours. I stopped applying poisons to my cats over 5 years ago because of the horrible side affects. My cats have allergies to other things already__POISON should NOT be used on your pet in my opinion} Also-my cats are part wild and I can’t take them to a vet either.I treat my home & use garlic in their food & sprinkle Baking soda & Borax on the carpet leave in a few hours and vacume.If they need to be washed I bathe them in natural lemon, lemon juice and diluted apple cider vinegar.They take benadryl for skin allergies.One has a heart murmur, One is overweight from a botched Spay procedure, one is terrified of bathes so I comb her with a flea comb & use a natural tincture I make [ spearmint, lemon,witch hazel,cortisone cream & diluted benadryl mixed in the solution. Again-treating the house is very important to keep the fleas away.I do spray poisons on the inside edges of walls and floors[where my cats do not walk] & fan out the room treated before they re-enter. It takes work but their health is my first concern. I Love my cats. Theo Calliope Zoe & CCMeo

    1. Thanks Eva. Useful information. Personally I don’t these products. I don’t like insecticides and I don’t like the fact that the cat is vulnerable to being poisoned by cat owners who don’t really understand the dangers. Some people use dog flea treatments on cats and that’s a no-no. It is a killer. I don’t believe the manufacturers do enough to warn and educate. All they want is sales.

  8. Sorry to hear about Matata’s close brush with death but glad he is OK now.
    The sad thing is that Bayer Bolfo is totally useless for eliminating or controlling fleas.
    A long time ago I tried it on may cats and saw was not working.
    So I conducted an experiment. I caught several fleas still living and thriving on my cats, put them in a bottle, and added a good amount of Bolfo.
    Next day and even a week later they were merrily jumping around inside the bottle full of life and energy.

    How Bayer gets away with selling such rubbish I do not know. It is outright fraud. It is not only useless but also dangerous. Bayer also produce that dangerous antibiotic Baytril. Not a company to trust.

    1. Extraordinary. Turkish fleas are known throughout the cat fancy as being particularly hardy 😉 They must have mutated!

      Seriously though long ago I decided flea treatments are potentially dangerous and avoid them unless I have to use one which is Frontline.

  9. That must have been a very stressful time for yourself and for Matata as well, I’m so glad he has made a full recovery and I’m guessing that will be the last anti-flea bath he gets. He must love you a lot to allow you to bath him when he is so unmanageable with other people to the point of having to be sedated. I think we all tend to forget that anti-flea treatments are insecticides and that we are introducing poison to our cats and trusting the manufacturers have got it right and we will just kill the parasites and not the host cat, I know there are a lot of anti-flea dangerous products out there that are toxic to cats, particularly ones intended for dogs, but also some makes of cat flea treatments for example flea collars for one have been responsible for the unpleasant deaths of cats. We weren’t happy last time we used spot on treatment on the boys and have vowed to find a natural way to keep fleas away or get rid of fleas if necessary, haven’t found it yet but we are determined they won’t be forced to absorb any more chemicals.

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