The Pet Poison Helpline makes it clear that topical spot-on insecticides for dogs is one of the most common ways to poison a cat. The dog spot-on treatments contain an insecticide which is highly toxic to cats: pyrethrins or pyrethroids. The poisoning is life-threatening. Cats can suffer severe drooling tremors and seizures.
Many cat owners are aware that insecticides against ticks and fleas for dogs are poisonous to cats. However, clearly many people are unaware. Also it must be fair to say that some people are careless about treating their cat for ticks and fleas. They may believe that a dog treatment will be okay for their cat. They want to save some money. Let’s not forget that these treatments are expensive.
A dog and cat owner who poisons her cats with a dog spot-on flea treatment has either been (a) careless or (b) unaware that the treatment is poisonous to their cat.
The packaging on spot-on flea treatments in my opinion is neither clear nor plain enough. Yes, there are pictures of dogs and cats respectively on the different types of treatments so you would have thought that people would notice the difference but there are no warnings on the dog treatments. It should be spelt out in no uncertain terms that treatments for dogs can only be used on dogs (see mock up above).
In this way, the manufacturers not only help prevent the poisoning of cats by their product, they also educate the public. This is doing a public service. It is good public relations. It would be good for business. So why aren’t they doing it?
The picture on this page is a mockup by me. It is not that good because I’m not a graphic designer but the intention is to put across the message loud and clear that the packaging needs to be changed to highlight the dangers to cat owners of this inherently toxic product.