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Is Neosporin Safe for Cats? Vet-Approved Signs & Dangers

Melissa Gunter

By Melissa Gunter

cat playing the ointment tube

Vet approved

Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats are fun, entertaining, and even demanding members of the family. For many people, cats are like children and can be as special to them as any other pet. While most cats like to stay out of danger, things do happen from time to time where issues may arise. Perhaps you have more than one kitty in the house and a little fight occurs. Then again, your cat may have an allergy to flea bites. Whatever the cause could be, cats have scabs or injuries now and then that make you want to treat them. This may lead to you asking, is Neosporin safe for cats? Unfortunately, the answer to that question is no, Neosporin is not safe for use on cats. It can even be fatal in some cases.

What Is Neosporin?

Before we dive deeper into why Neosporin isn’t safe for use on cats, let’s learn exactly what it is. Neosporin is a trademarked cream created by Johnson & Johnson. It is considered a triple antibiotic cream due to it being made from neomycin, bacitracin, and polymyxin B. You’ll even find an added ingredient in some forms of Neosporin or generic triple antibiotic creams that are used for pain relief. This ingredient is pramoxine hydrogen chloride, a topical analgesic. These ingredients are great for use in humans, as these antibiotics can keep the wound free of unwanted bacteria.

Neosporin is easily one of the most popular topical treatments on the market. Most homes have a tube simply waiting to be used. With the number of cuts, scrapes, and other small wounds families experience, a tube of Neosporin or generic triple antibiotic cream is a great resource to have inside your first aid kit.

Neosporin (Image Credit: Mrbeastmodeallday, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 4.0 International)

The Dangers of Neosporin to Cats

There are several reasons why you shouldn’t use Neosporin for cats. For starters, Neosporin is intended for use on humans. It isn’t sold for use on animals. It isn’t safe for animals to use human medications unless directed by a veterinarian. This includes topical creams like Neosporin. Unfortunately, there are even bigger dangers involved when it comes to Neosporin and cats, which is the reaction some cats can have to the ingredients inside the medication.

Neomycin and Polymyxin have been shown to cause severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis in cats. A study was conducted between 1993 and 2010 of cats that suffered anaphylaxis due to the use of Neosporin. This study included 61 cats, of different breeds and ages, who went into anaphylactic shock within only 4 hours of being given Neosporin. Unfortunately, out of these 61 cats, 18% died from the reaction. Most of the worst reactions throughout the study occurred within 10 minutes of the ointment being given. It is believed that Polymyxin was the most likely cause of the reaction, however, it couldn’t be proven in the study.

What Is Anaphylactic Shock?

Anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, in cats is a medical emergency where an extreme allergic reaction takes place. When this happens, a cat’s life can quickly be endangered. When an allergen is introduced to a cat’s body and is perceived as threatening, cells are released to fight this unwanted invader. Unfortunately, in certain cases, the entire body may react, or just certain systems, which results in anaphylactic shock. Among the systems that can be affected are the respiratory system, cutaneous system or skin, cardiovascular system, and gastrointestinal system.

vet examining a cat's eye with a device
Image Credit: santypan, Shutterstock

What Are the Signs of Anaphylaxis in Cats?

If you own a cat, it’s crucial to know the signs of anaphylaxis. Neosporin isn’t the only substance cats can have an allergic reaction to. Here are the signs of anaphylaxis in cats so you will know what is happening to your pet if it takes place. If you find your cat suffering from these signs, this is a medical emergency and they should be taken to the veterinarian immediately.

  • Difficulty breathing or inability to breathe
  • Facial swelling
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Incoordination
  • Seizures
  • Pale gums
  • Coma

What Can I Use Instead of Neosporin?

If your kitty has a scab or injury where you think Neosporin or that type of topical is necessary, reach out to your veterinarian. Instead of using treatments that are recommended for humans, your cat’s veterinarian can prescribe topical creams, antibiotics, and other treatments that are safer for your kitty. They’ll ensure the ingredients are kitty safe and even give you proper administration instructions to get your cat feeling better quickly.

Final Thoughts

While Neosporin is a great treatment for humans, it isn’t recommended for your cat. Unfortunately, Neosporin shouldn’t be used as a treatment for your cat due to the antibiotics used in the creation of this medication. If your cat accidentally ingests or comes into contact with Neosporin, anaphylaxis is a possibility. If you see signs of this, take them to the veterinarian immediately.

Featured Image Credit: naturals, Shutterstock

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