I'm on a journey to find health and happiness through a more holistic and green lifestyle.

I find the world to be abrasive. =) That is to say, I feel the need to armor myself, physically and emotionally, in order to face life. Don't we all? Maybe. For whatever reason, it has become a priority in my life to rid my immediate environment of irritating things. And I'm sensitive! So there is much work to be done. But. I have thought for a long time that the things I come in contact with every day, and the stuff used to clean and maintain these things, need to be gentle and non-toxic. I have had eczema my entire life. For a long time I just dealt with it, and accepted that sometimes it's bad, and sometimes it's not, and that it will fluctuate a lot. Gradually over time I have come to find that certain things, fabrics, cleansers, materials, are more irritating to my skin than others. Stress can exacerbate it. In more recent times, I have realized that every aspect of my life improves when I improve conditions for my skin. Hah! What a concept! Thus my (long time) interest in going green, and my more recent desire to live a more holistic lifestyle. (I think I've felt a desire for a long time to live in a harmonious way with myself, my surroundings, and nature, but didn't have a name for it.) Anyhow, this blog is a journal of my trials and errors, and basic crooked path to find a balanced and peaceful existence for myself and my family. Thanks for your interest! I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

*Warning!* Sentry Natural Defense Flea and Tick Treatment is Dangerous For Cats!

On Friday, May 6th, I went to Benson's Pet Center with the sole purpose of purchasing some flea and tick repellent for our two cats. I went to the check-out counter and asked an employee to help me find some natural repellent. I prefer to avoid toxic chemicals whenever possible, for us, and for the cats. She took me right to a display that is in full view of the counter, at the front of a very full store. She pointed out this product: Sentry Natural Defense Natural Flea & Tick Squeeze-On for Cats & Kittens. "That was easy!" I said to the employee, and bought the stuff, for $13.50.

That afternoon, my daughter and I applied the stuff to both cats. I had read every word on the box, and was a little surprised at the recommendation of wearing both gloves and eye protective gear while applying this product, which claimed to be "Safe for USe Around Children and Pets." Hm. Very shortly after applying the stuff, our male cat started to scratch at the application site. Now cats do not like anything applied to their fur or skin, so I noted the reaction, and kept an eye. Now the reason for applying the stuff in the first place was that our daughter had found a fully engorged tick in the house, under a chair where our male cat likes to sleep. Over the next couple of days, the cat continued to scratch at his neck. And on Sunday, we realized he had a tick there. Ok, so I figured the scratching was due to that. The cat went out for a few minutes, then came in, and I went to remove the tick. It had fallen off on its own, outside, thank goodness. (YUK) Monday morning, my daughter held the cat on her lap, and noticed that he was trembling. I looked, and yes, he had developed a tremor in his head. I called the vet, and brought him in, along with the flea/tick treatment I had applied. A short while later, one of the doctors called me to say that she had done some online research on the essential oils in the product, and found that one, in particular, clove oil, had strong suggestions against use on cats. (The product is 7.0% clove oil) She said also that peppermint is not well tolerated by cats. (The product is 10.0% peppermint oil) She told me that these ingredients can cause liver and kidney damage, and recommended blood work to test. I agreed, of course, and thank goodness, the tests came back normal. She told me the cat had been bathed, to remove the product, and that he would be bathed again before I picked him up. She then informed me that she had called the company that makes this "natural" product, Sentry, and filed a claim with them! She said she'd give me the information to do the same, once the cat is healthy again. (Why I had to wait for that I'm not sure) To add insult to injury, the cat had THREE more ticks removed while at the vet. So not only is the stuff toxic, but un-effective! Add to that the vet bill of $151.50. Gads!!

The cat has been home for two days now, and seems to be doing well. I have noticed no more tremors, and he is no longer scratching at the area we applied the product. We have washed the area of the other cat as well as we can, and she seems ok, though she did vomit this morning (Wednesday.) Related? I don't know.

The vet informed me that no flea and tick remedies are 100% effective, but she did recommend Front Line, which is applied in the same way that the Sentry stuff is apparently. She said that you weigh the pros and cons when using anything like this. I have yet to use anything else on the cats, and have yet to see another tick.... sighs.... but the cats are now only allowed to occupy one room in the house, which is closed off to the rest of the house. And they can go out.

I have to say that I am so disappointed in this company. I use essential oils in my home and on myself and my family, and like any medication, they must be tested and used with caution. It is so very irresponsible of this company to misuse them in this way. It's dangerous for the cats, makes all-natural products seem unsafe and dangerous, and in that way, promotes the use of toxic chemicals. When used appropriately (with lots of thorough research) natural products are far safer than the chemicals we assume are safe because they are widely marketed.

Additional Information:

The ingredients listed for the Sentry Natural Defense flea and tick product:

Active Ingredients:
peppermint oil 10.00%
clove oil 7.00%
lemon grass oil 3.0%

Other Ingredients:
canola oil, vanillin, citric acid 80.00%

A couple of websites with information about essential oils and cats:

essential oil safety and cats

essential oil and cats: a potentially toxic mix - the website includes a list of some essential oils that are known to be toxic to cats. The first on the list is peppermint oil.

do essential oils kill cats? - this website claims that it is not the essential oils that are harmful to cats, but the additives. It claims that therapeutic grade e.o.s can be used. Hm... not sure if I agree with this! It is well documented that several e.o.s are dangerous for cats - in any form! Here's a quote from this site: "Like their other senses, cats have an acute sense of smell. They are usually not too keen on being treated with essential oils – so it can take some ingenuity to sneak up on them and apply any oils." What?! Why would anyone do that? It devastates me that this kind of suggestion is out there. Cats have far better instincts in general as to what is good for them and what is not than humans do. We might do well to pay more attention to what they do! 

There is lots and lots of information on the internet about all this. Do a quick search online on clove oil and cats. It's pretty clear. While clove oil is great as an insecticide, it is also pretty good way to get rid of your cats! The cats cannot metabolize the oils, they become toxic, and the cats suffer from liver failure. Essential oils and cats DO NOT MIX! Lesson learned.