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Did Flea Shampoo Kill Boo?

This week I had the sad task of bearing bad news to my 14 year-old friend Coea about his cat, Boo, dying in the night.

boo2Boo was 13 years old and had been with Coea and his Mom since he was a kitten. Coea’s Mom, my good friend, was away for the weekend, so I stayed for two nights to make sure all was well.

All was not well. Four days before, my friend had given Boo a bath with Sentry Flea Shampoo for cats, and Coea reported that he’d been acting strange since then.


Boo wasn’t eating (he’s usually a big fan of food), he was sleeping in funny places, his breathing was more rapid than usual, and he wobbled – both when he walked and when he tried to sit still.

I googled “sentry flea shampoo cats reactions” and the first thing that came up is “Top 291 Complaints and Reviews about Sentry Pet Products.” I highly recommend you visit this site, then share it with everyone you know, whether they have a pet or not.

My jaw dropped as I read one account after another, with pet owners saying things like this:

“Several days later, he had a seizure in the middle of the night that lasted one to two minutes. He was never the same after this. He had loss of balance, vision, tremors, restlessness, trouble sleeping, crying, and labored breathing. His breathing became progressively worse, and had to let him ago less than a week later. My wife and I are so heartbroken.”

Since Boo seemed to be off but somewhat ok, we opted to try some things people on the consumer reports site had tried before taking him to the vet.

Some people had seen positive results from bathing pets with Dawn dish soap and giving them a little Benedryl. The emergency vet also said a bath with Dawn was all they could recommend other than taking him in for tests.

It was my first time bathing a cat, and besides Boo sticking a claw all the way through the skin on Coea’s neck, it went pretty smoothly (Coea may not agree).

The Benedryl wasn’t so smooth. I only gave him about 1/8 of a pill, but he wouldn’t eat the turkey it was wrapped in (which he’d normally gobble up). So we had to do that nasty thing where you hold his mouth open and put the pill on the back of their tongue so they instinctively swallow.

Boo was not a happy cat after that.

boo4He immediately began making a strange noise and licking the back of his mouth and foaming from the mouth.

“OK, that’s it! Get your shoes on and wrap him up, we’re going to the vet!” I said as I jumped up and grabbed my keys.

I’d never given a cat a pill, so it was traumatic for me – was he choking? What was all that foam about?!

I called my friend to tell her what was happening, and she said the pills are very bitter, so it was normal for Boo to be acting strange and foaming at the mouth.

By now we were sitting in the car, but Boo had calmed down and the string of saliva wasn’t getting any longer. He calmed down and his breathing became more normal.

“OK, let’s see how he does,” I said to Coea. We went back inside and watched Boo carefully. He was still walking funny, but we decided to see how things went overnight and take him to the vet in the morning if he was still acting strange.

A few minutes later, we put a bowl of tuna juice in front of him and he lapped it up! He wasn’t wobbling and he seemed more calm. We were ecstatic. Things seemed to be on the up and up. Coea chose to have Boo sleep with him, and I said goodnight with a good feeling.

The good feeling turned into a very bad feeling a few hours later.

When I went to see how Boo was doing as Coea slept, I found Boo laying just outside his bedroom door. He looked all fluffy and cute, as he always does, but my heart skipped a beat as I watched for his breathing. When I saw none, I fell to my knees and stifled a shout. Boo looked like he was resting peacefully, but when I touched him he was stiff as a board.

I picked him up and wrapped him in a blanket, then took him downstairs to lay him by the fire and shed some tears. The rest is too sad to share. Telling a cat’s family that he has left this world is not a thing I care to do again, I’ll just leave it at that.

Did the flea shampoo kill Boo?

My friend used a normal amount and followed instructions on the label. Boo was older, but not in terrible health, so we didn’t consider him elderly. He was fine before the bath, and not fine after the bath.

You can come to your own conclusions, but I’m convinced the shampoo killed Boo. I’m now on a campaign to tell the world about it.

I’ve made little signs that I’ll carry in my purse with a small roll of tape. Every time I go to a store where flea shampoos is sold, I’m going to tape my little sign under it. Sargeant, Hartz and other brands have similar reports.

Here’s my sign – I’m printing it on fluorescent orange paper and will cut it into card-sized sheets.

If you’re so inclined, please print it out and help me in my campaign to get these nasties off the market.

My next post will be about non-toxic flea control…

RIP_Booboo3RIP Sweet Boo. I hope others can learn from your life and death.

Love from Your Friends,

Spring and Cricket the Dog

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