Hartz = A tough week for my cat

On the weekend of Aug. 7-8, my 6-year-old male tabby, Norman, was biting at his fur and actually pulling out chunks of fur with his teeth. I was concerned about this behavior and thought he might have picked up a flea somewhere. He’s an indoor cat, but you never know.

So I picked up Hartz 3-in-1 Flea & Tick drops at the local grocery store. My expectation here, was that the product would most likely be ineffective and I’d take Norman to the vet that week some time. I wish.

I put this poison on my cat Monday evening, Aug. 9. He seemed a little annoyed at it, but otherwise okay into Monday night and Tuesday morning. On Tuesday, I went out with some friends after work, and got home relatively late Tuesday night to find Norman in extreme, obvious discomfort.

He was running around my apartment, yowling, rubbing on the walls and, when I came in, he tried to get out the door, as though his brain was telling his there was something in the apartment hurting him so he wanted to get out. He would lie down, shift around, stand back up, lie back down, his claws were extending and retracting and he was breathing quite heavily.

The only thing to suspect was the Hartz, so I got a gob of paper towels, dampened them in the sink, and tried to sponge the stuff off him. Normally, if I tried something like that with Norman, he’d have me for lunch. But he stood there, arching his back toward the paper towels, as though it were soothing him somewhat. It helped, but he was still in very apparent distress.

So I drove him a half hour to the 24-hour emergency animal hospital, and told them the story. The people (vets and assistants) at the hospital all nodded knowingly as I related the events, and immediatetly began referring to Norman, among themselves, as a “Hartzcat.” One word, like a common jargon-type thing. They’d seen this before.

Their biggest concern was that his temperature was elevated to 105 degrees (101 is normal kitty temp). So they gave him a bath and an I.V. and kept him overnight. The next morning, he was much better, but his temperature was still a little high, so Norman had to spend a day at the regular vet to be monitored.

It was Thursday before he was home and “out of the woods” after giving him the Hartz poison on Monday. Along the way, the emergency vets and my regular vet told they see these types of things all the time from Hartz products and they NEVER recommend them under any cir*****stances. The emergency vets said Norman’s reaction, while bad, could have been much worse. They described seeing cats suffering from horrible convulsions, often resulting in death.

I’ve done a lot of reading since that time, at this site and others, and learned a lot about how Hartz products work and how they operate as a company.

I’m furious with them for continuing to market this product and with myself for not doing my homework earlier.

The good news is that, after vet bills of more than $400 and an awful, traumatic week for mym cat, he is now fine and is putting the whole experience behind him.

I, on the other hand, am not walking away so quickly. Taking on Hartz seems like a losing battle, so I’m taking the “clean your own back yard” approach and will be working to see about removing Hartz products from store shelves in my area, starting with the store from which I made the purchase.

As a former newspaper reporter, I also have local media contacts which I may utilize as well.

I will endeavor to keep hartzvictims.org updated on any progress, or lack thereof.

In the meantime, I did stop one woman from purchasing the product just last night. I was at the store buying kitty litter and, down the aisle, I saw a lady perusing the “medication” section. I started to grab my purchase and go to the checkout, but I simply could not. I approached her, told her the above story, and suggested she see her vet. She said, “Wow, I was just just going to give him something for tonight and take him to the vet tomorrow.” But she agreed that one night of mild discomfort, and a morning vet visit would be far preferable to the alternative potential nightmare.

One kitty cat at a time, I guess.

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