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Ask the Veterinarian/cats and insecticides


I have a question about pesticides and cats.
I was planning to spray the outside perimeter of my houses specifically for carpenter ants.  (I live in Massachusetts).
I use a liquid spray.
My cats stay inside all of the time (and of course, when I spray, I close the windows until it dries).

My question is, I have heard that pyrethrin is very, very toxic to cats.
It appears that most of the commercially available sprays contain a derivative of pyrethrin.
Can you give me any advice about what to use (specifically for carpenter ants)?
Or a web site that gives specific information about cats and spraying insecticide?
I have searched some of the web but they do not address this issue.
Or at least I have not been able to find the information.

Hi Deena,
From what I have been reading, since Pyrethrins are used in flea products (mostly for dogs, but some for cats) the toxic levels are usually reached when owners put too much flea product on their cats, OR more commonly, use DOG products on the cats to cut costs.

Using them around the outside of the house shouldn't be an issue if you keep them in; wait a few days to open the windows, and change your clothes before you come in the house after spraying.
Here is an article about this issue:

What I would do is call a PEST control place and ask them about the sprays etc.

They have a lot of knowledge about these sprays.  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 42 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love. I also Teach Veterinary Technology to working technicians who are studying to take their California Tests to become Licensed Technicians. They have to take both the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam) and the California boards.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.


Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 1500 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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