Anger, guilt, frustration and outrage

I share with many of you a sense of anger, guilt, frustration, and outrage, as I mourn for the loss of our beloved cat, Stickley. We began using drops to control our flea problem about 6 years ago. The Advantage brand from the vet worked well, but with 5 cats the cost was prohibitive. I found some over the counter drops which seemed similar, and had used them on and off for several years, with no ill effect. This fall, as the fleas got out of hand, I went to my local Petco and found the Hartz Advanced Flea and Tick Care drops on sale. I bought 2 packs to treat my five cats.

While I want to share this story, and try to prevent Hartz from selling this awful poison, I really hate to relive this experience. Okay – so Stickley had lots of fleas – we’d been flea-combing her, and finally gave her the drops one afternoon. I had always stretched them out, just applying a couple of drops rather than the whole tube, and usually that seemed to be sufficient, and minimized exposure for the cats. Applied the Hartz drops to 4 of our 5 cats. After a few days, Stickley still had lots of fleas so I decided to apply a little more, what I thought might be a “full” dose for her – I somehow had the perception that this was a fairly mild medication – I guess the cheery white and green package, with a healthy-looking orange kitty on it, combined with the fact that it didn’t seem to have done anything. Within a few days, Stickley was in bad shape. I wish I’d visited this website then – I might have been able to save her. She lost her sense of balance – would try to jump up on things and fall – and got an unfocused, confused look. She lost interest in eating. We thought perhaps her time had come – she was an older cat, and had been slowing down for some time. But within a week she seemed to have declined from “slow” to “near death”.

I kept saying I thought maybe it was the drops, and everyone said I was crazy. Finally, I had time to go on line and research the subject – what a horrible shock! I washed her, and she seemed to perk up a little, and made an appointment for the vet that afternoon. By the time we got her there, she was pretty unresponsive – purred a little, would look at us in a semi-conscious way, but very quiet. The vet showed us that her gums and inside of her ears were tinted yellow, and said that indicated liver failure. He seemed disinclined to believe that the drops had been an important factor in her illness. He gave her some steroids, an “antidote” for poisoning, and several syringes of saline solution. We brought her home.

Later that night, Stickley died. My ten year old son and I sat and cried. While others might doubt, I’m convinced that if I hadn’t used the Hartz drops she’d be alive today. We buried her in our yard.

I don’t think Hartz would consider me to have a case – Stickley was one of those “aged” cats they advise against using it in the fine print on the back. I foolishly assumed that because she’d used products that looked similar, this one would be okay, too. I should have been tipped off by the way it smelled, very toxic and nasty, and the way it slimed in a greasy way across the fur. Advantage is a mild-smelling drop that seems to just absorb into the skin, and it supposed to be completely safe for mammals. This phenothrin-based Hartz Advanced Care is dangerous – it should not be marketed as safe for cats.

If there is a current lawsuit forming, I would be interested in participating.

My condolences to all of you who have lost your pets.

Barbara Morris

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