They buzzed down the back. “You have a Bob Martins on the way” These inspiring words mean that yet another person:
1) Has not read the warning on the dog flea treatment box.
2) Tried to treat their cat on the cheap with supermarket/pet shop products
3) This will now cost them either several hundred pounds and/or the cats life or both.
Bob Martins produce 2 types of flea treatment one for cats for use on cats, the other for use on dogs. The dog’s one contains Permethrin. There is a warning on the packet but for some reason people do not “see” it.
I should say that it is not just BM that use it but the name has become the byword for the problem.
Premethrin is a neurotoxin that works by damaging the nervous system. When used on cats it causes anything from tremors, staggering to severe seizures and for many death is the outcome. It is very slow to be metabolized from a cats body so it is a case of supportive treatment.
The cat when it came down was having seizures, his pupils were dilated (large) and black orbs. He was lashing out with blindly then going into violent spasms; actually it was hard to separate the two actions.
He was very scared about what was happening to him and his temperature was up from the seizures.
The auxiliary managed to pin the cat and hold the front leg out for me to place the iv catheter without us both getting badly scratched. A good auxiliary is worth their weight in gold and all too often they are overlooked.
The vet sorted out initial treatment and the cat was given a bolus of Diazemuls to sedate it, this stopped the seizures.
Finally we clipped the oily patch on its back where the owner had applied the spot on, and gave it a quick wash, to help remove residue.
During washing round 2 began and he started to spasm again, l gave him his next bolus to sedate him again, then placed the patient into a kennel in ICU.
The vet had gone off to speak to the owner and l stood by for round 3. Sure enough after a couple of minutes the twitches began again and l gave the next bolus, this stopped the twitching for a couple of minutes but not long enough by any stretch.
By now the vet was back and had a different drug. The owner was filling in consent for treatment and then going home. He decided that he did not want to see his cat, it was to upsetting for him to know what he had caused.
The new treatment lasted for about 10min, then it was overwhelmed by the toxin, and back to “bouncy cat”, it was going to be a stinker of a BM to treat this one.
The vet decided that as the owner had used a large dog spot on, and the cat was so ill he would have to call in the big guns. A 100ml bag of saline was hooked up to the infusion pump and a measured dose of Propofol (used to induce anaesthesia for operations) was placed in the bag. The cat was given a bolus of Propofol directly into the iv catheter to cause an anaesthetic effect. The saline/propofol drip was started to keep the cat sedated for several days. To put it bluntly the cat was placed into a coma to control the seizures.
Oxygen was placed to help his breathing, and he was turned every 2 hours, to prevent lung congestion from being in one position for too long.
24hours later the vets decided to try and lighten the patient and see what would happen. As the patient came lighter, the twitching re-started, a bit longer to see if it would settle, it got worse. The drip was turned up and the patient was deepened down again.
This lightening and deepening was repeated over 3 days.
Eventually the twitches stayed steady and did not progress. It took a further 48 hours for the cat to be allowed totally awake and sedation to wear off.
The effects of the Premethrin took a couple of days more for the body to overcome.
The patient was in for 8 days in total and the cost was over £600 for treatment.
The story above is a typical BM tox. case. It vary's from mild twitching and ataxia (wobbly/falling over) and the cat home in a couple of days, to extreme enough to die. Very often they are like the story above.