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. 


  1. this product KILLED my cat and if that wasn't enough the vet bill was well over $700 .. My cat didn't scratch at it or go crazy, but a few days later he wasn't himself (he was a very active cat) stopped walking, eating, etc we washed the stuff off of him took him to the vet, his liver and kidneys shut down, it was a heartbreaking experience .. and I thought by getting a natural product I was doing the right thing

  2. I specifically asked for a natural product, thinking it would be better - safer - than the usual stuff. I am horrified to hear your story. I'm so sad and ANGRY that this product is still on the market. My one consolation is that this blog entry gets a lot of attention and in that way the word is spread. Thanks for sharing this.

    ~Dais (author: JEDSpeak)

  3. We used this product on a healthy cat and 3 days later, after experiencing vomiting, diarrhea and seizures, she died. Heartbroken, we searched the internet to see if anyone else had experienced problems with using this "natural" product and found many other heartbroken pet owners who also lost their companions. Cannot advise strongly enough - DO NOT USE THIS PRODUCT ON YOUR CAT.

  4. I don't use any flea/tick products on my cats. They don't need them and I am happy they are chemical free. Writer wrote:
    " 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."
    Here's a solution: Keep your cats indoors. Problem solved. No ticks, no chemicals, no cost.
    Works for me and my cats.

    1. Not true. All ot takes is one flea jumoing on your shoe or pant leg from you going out side. Happened to my indoor cst and we didnt know she had fleas for a while because she didnt scratch a lot (all cats are different). Then i kept noticing black specs like dirt all over her fur and come to find out there was a bunch of flea poop on her (the black specs). Comb your cat bet u find flea poop too.

  5. The primary danger of the essential oils in this product to cats is if they ingest them in concentrated form.

    Many cat owners don't take their cats to see a vet unless required by law or illness, and don't know the actual physical health of their animals.

    This Sentry product is seldom recommended by vets, not because it's ineffective or unsafe. It's because the manufacturer's of prescription products have spent millions of dollars promoting their products. They are far better known, and there's an assumption, valid or not, that prescription products containing ingredients regulated by the FDA have been tested for relative safety and effectiveness when used as recommended by the manufacturers. OTC pet products may contain any combination of ingredients generally recognized as safe (GRAS), without testing.

    A conscientious person will obtain copies of the MSDS for any medication or active ingredient prior to use, whether the medication is for a pet or himself. If you compare the known potential dangers of all the anti-infective products on the market, and you must use one, this is one of the safest topicals.

    That the essential oil ingredients are partially effective against ticks, you've may have already established- one fell off dead. The "weakness" of this product, and most other topical tick/flea products, is that it is not effective against well established ticks.

    The only ways to reliably and quickly remove established ticks are mechanical removal and/or direct poisoning.

    The primary danger to your animal from fleas and ticks is infection, not blood loss. A single mosquito can infect your animal with tapeworms or heart worms with one bite, in a few seconds. It takes up to three days for a tick to become embedded sufficiently to pass on one of the diseases that it carries.

    EVERY antiparasitic product sold in the US has warnings on the packaging about watching for signs of sensitivity, and what to do if they appear, including contacting a vet and a poison control center.

    This product also has warnings about not allowing pets to groom themselves or each other until the product has dried.

    Any experienced pet owner or vet who has had to deal with a tick-infested animal would tell you that:

    1. Itching/skin sensitivity can be caused in some animals by one fleas bite, or exposure to anything new in its environment, including food.
    2. Tick flea protection has to be established and maintained before the time an animal is exposed to ticks and fleas for maximum protection.
    3. No flea/tick product will stop fleas or ticks from landing on an animal, or from biting it. Some products will poison insects, some are unpalatable to insects, some paralyze the mouth muscles of ticks, and one in particular, isopropyl myristate, dissolves the outer shell of ticks within 2-3 days, killing it by dehydration.
    4. Indoor cats are not safe from ticks and fleas. You, your children, other animals, or your neighbors can bring ticks into your nice warm home, there is no tick season. The same is true of fleas.
    5. If your pets are carrying multiple ticks or fleas, it's necessary to treat your home for insect infestation.
    6. If you are considering using this product with your pet, the safest way to approach exposure to the ingredients, is to try the spray-on version first, or try the individual ingredients in dilute form.. The exposure is easier to manage, and if there is any reaction, it can be washed off using mild SOAP and rinsing well with water.

    1. Thnnk you for this reply. All of these products can be problematic. I have used Sentry's natural remedy with no problems. Frontline is toxic and does not work. Advantix, same deal. The big brand names all contain toxic chemicals. That is the simple truth.

    2. Corporate shill, obviously.

  6. i used the product as directed... the problem i encountered in both my cats was that this product is OIL and it takes longer to dry than a cat can possibly resist licking or scratching (not to mention that both scratched like crazy like their skin was burning after a few seconds of having it on). My younger kitten is the only one to have licked it, and he foamed at the mouth terribly. I read other reviews that said their cats foamed and dry-heaved and several lost large amounts of hair... Some even died. I just don't think that it is a safe enough product for ALL CATS. It shouldn't remain on the market.

  7. these also happened to me yesterday my 3 cats from 1 to 3 years got poisoned by these product. they were vomiting and drooling and had a very hard time breathing and moving . they only got better wen i cleaned up the product by bathing theme whit 2diferent soaps i had used some common chemical products for fleas on one of them before and never hard a problem. I made a call to pet smart about the product but they said its not in there hands.

  8. This product needs to be taken off the market. My kitten was perfectly healthy. After applying it she was not herself.. I washed it off but she was still not herself. Wouldnt move or eat for two days. After the 3rd good scub down the second day i saw an improvement and she is now back to her old self. You could see it in her eyes how much pain she was in and wouldbt pur or even perk up for treats or her favorite toy. Something is seriously wrong with this product. Essential oils shouldnt be used on cats. Period. The creators of this product/company should be ashamed of themselves.