Daily News Archive
From December 05, 2002

Pesticide Kills Cats, EPA Responds

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has linked flea and tick control pesticides with illness or death suffered by thousands of cats, according to Environmental News Service. The result is a recovery and relabeling of the products found to be at fault: Hartz Advanced Care Brand Once-a-Month Flea and Tick Drops for Cats and Kittens and Hartz Advanced Care Brand Flea and Tick Drops Plus for Cats and Kittens. The former contains active ingredient phenothrin, a synthetic pyrethroid. The latter contains both phenothrin and methoprene, an insect growth regulator. Stocks of these products with the old labels will be sold in stores until the middle of January.

Reports started filtering into EPA from the public in May 2000. Owners of cats were complaining of adverse reactions by their pets, associating them with Hartz flea and tick control products. Complaints of skin irritation, hair loss, nervous system damage, tremors, convulsions and even death were reported. By March 2001, these complaints became too numerous to ignore. EPA began its investigation. They requested incident report documentation from Hartz. Veterinarians and affected pet owners were interviewed.

EPA found the effects of the products dire enough to take action. In addition to the recovery, EPA is requiring new labels for the products that will be more informative to consumers regarding the risks the active ingredients pose. They require directing the consumer to use only single spot application of the drops, thereby decreasing chances that the cat will lick and ingest the chemical. Hartz is required to begin a consumer education program regarding the chemicals, which includes the implementation of a website. Furthermore, Hartz is to submit an animal study to EPA done by an independent laboratory that examines the effects of the chemicals.

To read more about EPA's agreement with Hartz Mountain Corporation, click here.

See Beyond Pesticides' fact sheets for more information about the toxicity of phenothrin and methoprene. We can also tell you about least-toxic alternatives to flea and tick control.