Hartz Flea Shampoo Killed my 3 Kittens

This was way back in 1989 but the emotional trauma of what I suffered watching my 3 kittens die is still very much with me. I had a female cat that I rescued from outside my home one winter, she gave birth to three kittens, adorable little tabbies. We fell in-love instantly and named them. There was Cricket, Buddy & Peanut. When they turned 16 weeks old I felt they were old enough to bathe in a flea shampoo to rid them of the fleas momma cat has passed on to them at birth. And according to HARTZ’S FLEA SHAMPOO instructions they only had to be at least 12 weeks old for their product to be safely used. So being that these kittens were 16 weeks old I felt safe in using it. BIG MISTAKE! I applied the shampoo as instructed and within MINUTES, ALL THREE STARTED RUNNING IN CIRCLES AND MEWING URGENTLY WITH A FRIGHTENED LOOK ON THEIR FACES. Soon after Cricket started foaming at her little mouth and gasping for air, Buddy started having foam come out his NOSE and MOUTH, Peanut grew very weak and listless and flopped over like a dead fish and lay gasping for air mewing in silent cries. I rushed them to the sink and re-rinsed them over and over as they grew weaker in my hands. I would rinse one and pass it to my (then 9 years old) daughter to dry off and try to rub them back to life, while I rinsed the other and so on. Finally 10 minutes into the horrific ordeal I panicked and called the emergency number of a local vet who said that it sounded like they had been poisoned and were too far gone to do anything for them because by the time “they start foaming the poison has entered their blood stream and it’s too late to save them” quote, un-quote. The vet also suggested I keep rinsing them with clear water and maybe they might pull out of it but to prepare for the worst. I crying started begging him to come help me, I would pay him holiday pay and after hours pay to just come so these babies wouldn’t suffer as they were literally suffocating in this thick foam oozing from their noses and mouths. He apologized and said there was nothing he could do for them, to call animal control and maybe they could help me. I called animal control and the lady who said there was nothing they could do either still came over quickly because I told her that I wanted a witness to what we were seeing and what the kittens were suffering. She sat with me and we ALL cried as we held these tiny babies in our hands watching them grow more and more listless and cold, all the while making gasping mewing movements with their tiny mouths like fish out of water,silent screams for help and gasping to try to get air in their lungs to breathe. They lived for another 30 minutes. Suffering ungodly pain and torture as they suffocated to death in this poisonous foam. My daughter had nightmares for months afterwards and she and I both still cry at the memories of how these kittens suffered. I called Hartz the very next day-a Monday-and was told that they had never had any complaints before and that they would gladly send me a box to return the actual bottle of shampoo to them for inspection. I stated that without the bottle I would have no proof of what I had used and what if it disappeared or was mysteriously lost in the mail? They assured me this would not happen and they would insure that I was advised of every step that bottle made from arrival to the results of their testing. So I agreed and sent them the bottle. And waited for their call. It never came. I ended up (almost to the point of harassment) calling and calling them for days on end for three months and nothing. Finally almost 4 months later I was able to reach an actual Hartz person because I threatened to sue them, and was firmly told they had NO RECORD of my name, my calling, or ANY complaints from anyone and did I have the bottle to prove it was their product I had used. I hung up in frustration and have vowed to insure no other cats are EVER killed by Hartz products again and voice it to anyone willing to listen. HARTZ PRODUCTS KILL CATS! PERIOD. And Hartz is insensitive and could care less because they are protected by bylaws and wordy powerful attorneys who know how to manipulate the system to insure they are not held accountable. So the next best thing is to boycott their products until they’re removed from consumer markets. DON’T BUY HARTZ PRODUCTS. Please! Save yourselves the heartache my daughter and I still keenly feel to this day….and If you value your sanity and the lives of your cats DO NOT USE HARTZ PRODUCTS ON THEM EVER!!!

9 Replies to “Hartz Flea Shampoo Killed my 3 Kittens”

  1. OMG! I’m so sorry to hear about ur loss! It’s unbelievable what shampoo can do!
    I don’t know how did u wash them, but I always avoid washing head of pats! So shampoo don’t come even close to ears, eyes, nose and mouth!! Especially when cat don’t like water and fight u all the way when u try to wash him! My way of thinking is better live few fleas on than poison cat.
    Max I wash is back of the head and little top of head. And when I wash soap off I gently hold cats face up and close ears with my both thumbs while other person sprays carefully water on top of cats head avoiding face area. This way soap doesn’t go on cats face. Well, this is the case with my cat who don’t mind showers because I regularly clean him when in needed since he was baby. He is mostly white and dirt is more seen on him than on his darker brothers..

    1. Im just reading this and im wishing i had read this earlier. My 10 year old daughter just watched our cat die in front of her and we had no idea what happened. She gave her a bath with hartz cat shampoo and with in 5 min she was seizing! I thought she was hot from water but water was just luke warm! She was a sweet healthy cat. We are so saddened tonight! This company needs to be shut down! We are so sad tonight! Its 1am and my daughter cant stop crying! Damn it anyways!

      1. cats don’t need baths!!!!!! they clean themselves. as for fleas and so on get a vet recommended product. Bathing a cat is animal cruelty.

  2. We only used the flea spray on the comb to get a small patch of fleas off our 7 week old kitten. With in an hour he was vomiting non stop, then started to dry heave, he fell over, developed labored breathing, and his eyes rolled back into his dead. We rushed him to the ER (30 mile drive) just to get there and have them tell me he has suffered cardiac arrest, he is blind, and has neurological damage. The vet said he would probably not make it to sun rise, and she suggested we euthanize him. Instead we brought him home and just rubbed him for about 2 hours sobbing over hie weak body. By the grace of GOD he pulled out of it, and he has recovered some of his eyesight but he has not started playing, and he gets tired very easy. I will never use anything except blue dawn dish soap ever again.

  3. The exact same thing happened to my kitten too. I found her outside, she was a rescue kitty, her white fur looked gray from being covered in dirt, ticks and fleas. I decided to buy Hartz Shampoo to treat her. Big mistake! An hour later the cat was trembling and having seizures. I took her to an animal hospital in santa monica named ASEC. They charged my nearly a grand and then they put her to sleep. It was horrible!

  4. THIS IS TRAGIC AND SO SAD!!! My Princess had the SAME reaction to ANOTHER BRAND of FLEA PRODUCTS (Sergeants maybe??? Or another brand) — OFF THE SHELF AGAIN bought from a pet store of all places — I called the Emergency Vet and they told me to rinse her off NOW!! I did and THANK GOD she was OK. I will NOT BUY HARTZ, SERGEANTS and anything else sold over the counter –NOW…..I get my flea products from the VET and even then (WHILE STILL AT THE VET’S!!) I CHECK my cat(s) FOR A REACTION BEFORE something terrible happens !!!!! PS– NEVER use products meant for dogs, on cats — cats’ livers process chemicals DIFFERENTLY than dogs’ livers do!!!
    DOUBLE PS– TRY PUTTING MILK THISTLE (drops, no alcohol) or open a capsule — in their wet food– I have heard that it HELPS CLEAR POISONS FROM THE LIVER. The Liver filters toxins from the body — Milk Thistle has helpd my elevated Liver values as well as my cat Cee Cee’s elevated Liver values. Look up Milk thistle on WebMD dot Com

  5. This happened to my cat when she was about 3 months old. I had put some on and turned away for a second and when I looked back she was foaming and gasping for air. I just kept rinsing her with fresh water and praying she would live.
    That was 11 years ago, and she is still here- thinking she’s my oldest child. Which she is. But I was just wondering if anyone has any info on the behavior and aftereffects of a survivor. My cat is odd to say the least, but I’m not sure if it’s brain damage or if she was just gonna be a nut anyway.
    I say that tongue in cheek, but I would like to know how the chemicals relate exactly to the damage done and then if any new behaviors and personalities have been observed. And my condolences. That’s just a downright heartbreaking thing to have to witness.

  6. To all who have pets they love,

    I lost a full grown adult cat to Hartz Flea shampoo circa 1994. I thought in applying it, the fleas would die. The first application left my cat feeling weak, so much so that I thought I should stop and I would not re-use the product for a while especially given that the fleas just kind of sat it out and didn’t fall off in the water like one would expect. I misjudged her weakness for the effect the fleas were having on her in response to the product. I remember the fleas at her nose moving about somewhat frantically, but on in that hard to wash area. The rest of the fleas on her body, were inactive.
    A few days later, Super Bowl Sunday, I finally couldn’t stand my cat’s constant self-scratching to alleviate herself from the flea bites she was succumbing to. I washed her thoroughly with the Hartz Flea Shampoo and made sure to rinse it completely off. I am not sure if I had a conditioner to go along with the shampoo, but I definitely remembered her look eye to eye with me. It symbolized all the trust in the world and with our close bond and long trusting relationship, and I wondered if I was doing the the right thing. I trusted that I was. I followed the instructions and made sure to try and pick each individual flea I could get from under fur.
    Alas, I couldn’t get them all, I couldn’t pluck most of them. they were simply evasive. I knew she didn’t feel good and I wanted her to get out of the sink as much as she displayed. When I placed her on the ground, she mewled and bayed somewhat. She lost her legs. She tried to crawl up in a corner to lick herself dry I assumed. I decided to leave her in peace. I went upstairs to watch the game. I think I remember hearing her weakly cry out once or twice as soon as I left the room. But I do remember an unnatural silence. It prompted me to return in addition to me wondering about how she fared. When I returned, Miss Kitty was dead, stiff as driftwood. I remember feeling so guilty. I remember mourning for her. I remember feeling like I betrayed her in my consciousness. I remember burying her in the woods under the east side of the foot of a tree in the rain in the darkness of that Sunday night, the darkness so penetratingly opaque, the single property light so starkly out of place. I recall wishing I had never washed her and sought other means to relieving her of her pain. I was in an unbelievable amount of pain sorrow. I remember crying in the rain alone with the burden of having to carry her to final resting place.
    Now I know it was the product Hartz made. It was all that we could afford. I knew she didnt have a chance to go to a veterinarian. Knowing what I know now, I would have sold everything I had to keep her alive. I feel so betrayed by simply being ignorant enough to believe what a product says at face value. If it wasn’t for a chance conversation with another pet lover today, I would have never connected the dots so completely.
    I threw out the Hartz Bath wash I had purchased a few months ago for my latest cat, Kaely. I never used it mainly because of my current cat’s need to adjust to getting water rinse offs in the first place, and in part because I think she needed to adjust and trust her new family, especially me while giving her said baths. I came close the last time to using the product, but I can’t explain what stopped me from doing so. In the end I didn’t use it. And I haven’t given my pet another since. I am grateful for giving the pause and listening. You simply never know why some of things you don’t follow through on completely stop you mid-course. In this case, maybe I had learned something as I did reminisce decades back to when I had given baths to my former feline friend. I simply never knew. For some reason, I think Miss Kitty knew I didn’t know it was going to harm her to that effect.

    Goodbye Miss Kitty. I still love you. Please, forgive me. Please. I am not sure if I deserve it.

    P.S. I have tried to use a Hartz flea collar in the past. It was a joke. Did nothing but irritate another cat we had at the time, Alcuin. I went with Frontline eventually deciding that coast should not be a factor, and it did what Hartz and several Flea Bombs could not do in a day or two, disrupting the flea life cycle and killing the adults flat-out by its medicine it delivers through the skin and bloodstream.

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