2015 November: Redcliffe (Qld) Toxic Flea Powder. Pesticide: Pyrethrin

ANGRY pet owners have called on Coles and Woolworths to stop stocking a brand of flea spray which is potentially lethal to cats.

Exelpet Fleaban, a flea spray for cats and dogs, contains pyrethrins, an insecticidal substance produced from the Chrysanthemum cineraiaefolium flower that is toxic to cats at high concentrations.

Chris Chambel says his 10-month-old cat Sasha started “foaming at the mouth” just seconds after he applied Exelpet. He only found out from his vet afterwards that pyrethrins can be highly toxic to cats in high doses.

“It was almost immediate,” he said. “We noticed drooling at first but then it turned into an excessive amount of frothing. He was restless, shaking, refusing to eat or drink for a 30-hour period.”

The 21-year-old from Redcliffe in Queensland was angry there were no warnings on the bottle. “It’s generally only bad for cats in excessive amounts, but the bottle doesn’t say how much you’re supposed to put on,” he said.

“The vet didn’t seem too surprised, he said it was not that uncommon. If he had started seizuring, as some cats do, it could have caused brain injuries. He said the best thing to do was bathe him and try to get as much off as possible.”

According to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, there are nearly 200 products containing pyrethrins registered for use in Australia, of which around 50 are registered for use on cats.

Flea treatment products registered for use in dogs generally contain high concentrations of permethrin at 400-650 g/L, and so are considered highly toxic to cats. Exelpet Fleaban contains 1.8 g/L of pyrethrins.

“The pyrethrin-containing products formulated as sprays or powders contain a much lower concentration of active constituent (1.8 g/L for spray products and between 1.0 and 2.5 g/kg for powder products) which means the potential for exposure to toxic amounts of pyrethrins is very low,” the APVMA says on its website.