Ain’t no fleas on me: irrational chemical fears

And through the crowds, comin’ a guy, “LET ME THROUGH, I’M AN AROMATHERAPIST!”
~Billy Connolly

Why, yes, in fact, when I can afford it, I do use topical anti-flea products. Yes, I am well aware of the fact that I’m putting a pesticide on my cats. Jiji has, in the past, licked Advantage which promptly caused him to make a very disgusted face and then he vomited all over my bathroom. But like hell I’m dealing with another flea infestation in my apartment. Topical anti-fleas, when chosen and applied wisely, are safe for most animals. Yes, some animals have a sensitivity to certain brands or dosages. Yes, some animals have sickened and died from them. But overall, they provide a great benefit…the quick and effective prevention of flea infestations in the home. Otherwise, in order to control fleas and ticks, other routes would have to be taken. Regular baths are ineffective and will dry out skin. Yard treatments are only effective for the area treated and are much more harmful to the environment than the topicals. Or you can just believe the hogwash that a “healthy animal does not harbor a lot of fleas.” I’ll come back in the summer when they’re overrunning your house. Or if you leave the animal outside year-round, you’re probably just ignoring the misery you’re putting your pet through. I’ve seen bath water run red from flea infestations.

Quite frankly, this whole scare about topical anti-flea products is bullshit. I’m willing to bet that most cases of sickness and death from topicals are a result of misuse. And for the record, the two major brands I’m most familiar with, Advantage/K-9 Advantix and Frontline Plus, have labeled their products consistently and well. It’s not their fault if people don’t fucking pay attention to the warning labels on a pesticide.

I don’t advocate chemical solutions to all problems, but I certainly don’t approve of the anti-chemical stance, either. There is a time and a place for chemicals, antibiotics, and other “artificial” substances, and they are not never and nowhere. Believe me, you want my mother to use antibacterial handwash. Really. She’s an RN. I certainly hope she uses antibacterial products. I hope that if I have surgery that I will be prescribed antibiotics. I hope that my cats will be treated with topical anti-fleas that are both safe and effective.

Eschewing chemicals, antibiotics, and antibacterials altogether in favor of “natural” cures is hogwash of the aromatheraputic, homeopathic, and “feng shui” variety. Sure, cedar oil does act as an insect deterrent. And garlic tabs work for dogs. In the North, maybe. In Texas and other warm states, flea season tends to be year-round. It was once bad enough that the indoor-only cat I had (along with the apartment I lived in and the apartment I moved into a month later) became infested. It took two months of Advantage, three bombs, a bottle of flea spray and a couple of cups of diatomaceous earth to finally rid my apartment of the little buggers. Cedar oil and garlic that.

Fuck, a lot of the chemicals we use are based in nature, and a lot of potentially deadly toxins come straight off a fucking plant, so please define “natural” to me and explain how it is good again? No, I’m not for the wanton application or excessive use of these things, but nor am I going to avoid them entirely based upon a load of superstitious yuppie nonsense.

5 Responses to “Ain’t no fleas on me: irrational chemical fears”

  1. I definitely agree that one should not go for a “no human-manufactured chemicals” stance. I mean, hellooooo polio! Anyway, on the rare occasion our indoor kitties have gotten a flea from some dimensional rift, on goes the Advantage. I still refuse to use Hartz flea collars, but that would be annoying for the kitties anyway.

  2. Did I ever mention how much I greatly enjoy your blog?

  3. maloyo Says:

    Ah, you brought back memories if a dear friend who died a few years ago. He had a doctorate in biology, and one of his favorite rants was this very issue. Natural is not always better, and artificial not always bad. A lot of folks spend some big bucks for so called “green and natural” products that can contain ingredients that can be very irritating. Not all essential oils are good for the skin, contrary to what some may say.

    And his cat got topical flea treatments—they work. So called natural options, not so much.

    Really like your blog—always happy to see a new post up!

  4. Latex is natural. Latex also contains an allergen that some people have rather violent reactions to. Polyisoprene is effectively artificially created latex. This makes condoms that do not cause rashes.

    My apartment has good pest control, though, so we’ll see if it becomes necessary.

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