are Damminix tick tubes really safe for cats?
March 8, 2013 1:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about using Damminix tick tubes around my yard to reduce the population of deer ticks, but I'm concerned about the possibility that any cats who catch and eat mice that have the permethrin on their fur might be poisoned.

This is how the tubes claim to work:

This remarkable solution consists of small tubes filled with cotton balls. The cotton is treated [with] the mild insecticide Permethrin. To use it, simply place Damminix Tick TubesĀ® in areas around your yard where mice frolic. That's it. Mice will do the rest for you by gathering the cotton to build nests in their burrows. Young ticks feeding on the mice are killed by the insecticide before they can spread Lyme Disease to you, your family and your pets.

I know that permethrin is quite toxic to cats. If a cat were to eat a mouse that had the permethrin oil from these tubes on its fur, could that level of permethrin exposure be enough to sicken or kill the cat? How about with repeated exposure, say if the cat were to eat a mouse a week? Would this level of permethrin use present a risk to any other critters in my yard (chipmunks? wild turkeys? other birds?)? There's no surface water nearby, so hazards to fish are not a problem here.

Apparently, the mice are not harmed by nesting in the permethrin-treated cotton. Are cats so hyper-sensitive to permethrin that an exposure that is safe for a mouse could sicken a cat?
posted by Corvid to Pets & Animals (4 answers total)
I am doing my PhD work with ticks (and I'm a vet student, bonus!). Permethrin isn't going to even dent the tick population, especially if you are in the northeast US. Permethrin is really toxic to cats, which is why you can't use Advantix on cats. I wouldn't risk it (or waste the money on the tubes).
posted by bolognius maximus at 10:40 PM on March 8, 2013

Bolognius...where do you get that info AFAIK Permethrin is quite effective. Damminix, or as I call it Dammitol, however is only good if you use enough tubes to cover the normal roaming habits of mice. One tube no more than every 10 yards along the perimeter, typically along fences, up against any wall or significant change in elevation, in flower beds, and any area that is protected, or at least would seem protected from a mouse's POV.
posted by Gungho at 6:34 AM on March 9, 2013

Response by poster: Just as I feared, a "don't do it" balanced by a "no problem." Given cats' sensitivity to permethrin, and my tender feelings for cats, I think I'll skip it unless better assurances about safety come up. I'd rather curse the ticks and stay indoors than lie awake nights worrying about neighborhood cats getting sick.

My yard is small, and has plenty of flower beds, walls and fences where mice (and hence, cats) hang out. If these things could work anywhere, they'd work here, and I'd be willing to give them a try if I felt better about the cat issue.

Are cats so sensitive to permethrin, as compared to mice, that an amount of permethrin that wouldn't hurt a mouse could be dangerous to a cat? There is some amount of permethrin that is considered safe for cats, since some cat products do contain it, just at much smaller doses than products for dogs. What I need to know is how the dose from the cotton in these tubes would compare to an amount that would be considered safe for a cat. Anyone have any leads on how to figure that out?

More opinions would be very welcome -- if anyone has a chance to ask their vet and report back, that would be great!
posted by Corvid at 10:09 AM on March 9, 2013

Just a thought...Damminix has been around since the early -mid 1980's. One would think that if it were a problem it would be plastered all over the Interwebs. OMG Mice are poison!! etc. FWIW If I were you I's just keep an eye on my cats and look for unusual behaviours which are typically the first signs of issues with Permethrin exposure. I say this because Lyme is a silent killer. In some animals the first sign of a problem with Lyme is usually related to kidney problems. By that time it is too late to treat.
posted by Gungho at 2:11 PM on March 9, 2013

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