Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal agent present in some consumer products such as: toothpaste, soap, detergent, toys, and surgical cleaning treatments. It is used in products for humans. This article was first published in 2012. It has been checked and updated. The information remains relevant more than 10 years later.
But Triclosan is harmful to cats on my research. So, what exactly is it and where does it come from? Well, it is probably manufactured by a number of companies throughout the world but a search indicated that a high percentage are based in China. One company is from Tianjin Bailing Disinfectant Co.,Ltd. Another is from Jiangsu Equalchem Co.Ltd.
There are many others both inside and outside China. China is not known to be highly ethical in respect of their products. See for example Melamine in Cat Food. And on a different subject, Cat Meat Name and Shame.
Triclosan is an ingredient in soap for human use
Triclosan is a “potent wide spectrum antibacterial and antifungal agent”. It is an ingredient of antibacterial soap. The idea is that its presence in soap has an added benefit over ordinary soap in that some of this chemical stays on the hands after rinsing, which then kills bacteria. All well and good but the trouble is that this chemical (5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy) phenol) has been linked to health issues in humans and as a consequence Triclosan may be harmful to cats as well.
Triclosan can be converted to dioxins (a known cancer producing chemical) on contact with free chlorine in tap water via an intermediary chemical called 2,4-dichlorophenol, as one example.
An early study from 1996 found it to be okay, “triclosan is neither an acute oral toxicant nor that it acts as a carcinogen, mutagen, or teratogen”. A study dated 2018 titled: “Biomonitoring of bisphenol A, triclosan and perfluorooctanoic acid in hair samples of children and adults”, concluded: “Bisphenol A (BPA), triclosan (TCS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are endocrine disruptors linked with negative health effects such as developmental, reproductive and cardiovascular toxicity.”
Other studies have found that the chemical is passed in cat’s urine which indicates that it being ingested and has a high absorption potential. More tests were needed to establish how toxic it is over time when building up.
Studies have also concluded that Triclosan can act as an endocrine disruptor in the North American bullfrog. In other words, it can disrupt the production of hormones. Also, it is felt that its presence can contribute to creating drug-resistant bacteria. Apparently in humans this chemical has been linked to human health issues such as:
- endocrine system abnormalities (mentioned above)
- weakened immune system
- birth defects
- weight loss that is abnormal and
- cell growth that is abnormal (src: http://www.drbenkim.com)
Transfer from human to cat
The major point is this; it is argued that ordinary soap does just as good a job in getting rid of bacteria. So, the inevitable conclusion is that Triclosan is, indeed, harmful to cats because cats will invariably lick our hands and other parts of us. If the chemical is still on us when we are licked then it will then be ingested and cause harm to our cat. I would stick to ordinary soap. Where health is concerned, we must “play safe”.
Benedette Cuffari, M.Sc. has reported the following: “United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned the incorporation of triclosan and 18 other antimicrobial chemicals from household soap products”. This currently stands as at 2023. But I suspect it is used in other countries and in other products which makes this page useful.
Note: there are many hidden chemical dangers to cats in the home in standard household products for human use. It is the chemicals industry. They have a poor reputation for using chemicals which are effective in achieving a stated goal but harmful to pets.
Triclosan is Harmful to Cats — Sources: