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Updated 2-28-09

It has been suggested in medical circles for quite some time that a thorough washing of hands with regular soap and water is as effective in removing bacteria as using an antibacterial soap or hand cleaner.

But some say antibacterial soaps and “waterless” hand cleaners containing triclosan or other antimicrobials may be harmful to cats and other animals if ingested. One shelter has discontinued its use upon the advice of a shelter consultant, just to be on the safe side. I've used antibacterial soaps and my cat, Jenny, often tries to lick my hands when I join her in bed at night. It was therefore of great interest when I read about the debate surrounding triclosan.

In my research I learned several pros and cons about triclosan, along with several studies about its potential for danger, if overused. Of course, the jury is still out, as more studies are needed. Triclosan and other antibacterial/antimicrobial products can be of value when used prudently. Learn more about what I discovered about triclosan and my conclusions.
Photo Credit: © iStockPhoto/Christian Pound


February 26, 2009 at 9:07 pm
(1) carl says:

Thank you for bringing up this issue, and especially the (partial) list of products containing triclosan. I never used and never would use any of the prodacts listed- with exception of the paints. I did not know that. I never used Miller paints, but I used California paint, fortunately only for the exterior of the house( and that one does not contain triclosan.It is disturbing that they put triclosan in their zero VOC paints and sell this as ” enviromentaly friendly” It would be a good advise for everyone moving into a new place to repaint the interior with an ecologically sound paint.
There is in the U.S. an obsession with chemicals and poisons of all kind harming both humans and cats. When do they wake up here ?

February 27, 2009 at 2:51 am
(2) Lissa Navarro says:

Dear Ms. Syufy,

Your recent blog that alleges triclosan-containing products are harmful to cats could not be farther from the truth. I am writing to correct this misinformation. In addition, I suggest that you review the facts at http://www.triclosan-info.com where you will find many peer-reviewed and published studies that support triclosan’s use.

Triclosan is, in fact, a proven safe and effective product that reduces or eliminates
bacteria that can lead to skin infections, intestinal illnesses or other commonly
transmitted diseases. It has a long, safe history of use without adverse effects in
antiseptic pet shampoos (i.e. SeboRex by DMV Pharmaceuticals) which are marketed
for use on cats. Triclosan is also used in antibacterial surgical sutures (brand name
Vicryl Plus by Novartis Animal Health) when extra caution is desired from post-operative
infection. In addition, triclosan antibacterial hand washes are used without adverse effects in the homes of millions of pet owners.

An extensive database and history of use for more than 35 years without adverse effects
confirm that triclosan is effective and safe to use. Laboratory and clinical studies have
been performed, addressing practically all relevant toxicological endpoints, and they
showed a very high margin of safety. The results demonstrate that no health concerns
are associated with the recommended uses of triclosan.

I respectfully request that you modify your current and future statements regarding the
use of triclosan since claims that the product may be harmful to the health are
fundamentally wrong; seriously misguide potential users and deny them the choice of
antibacterial protection that triclosan provides. Please contact me if you have any
questions related to triclosan and it use.


Dr. Lisa Navarro, Ph.D., D.A.B.T.
Director, Product Safety & Regulatory Affairs
Business Line Home & Personal Care

February 28, 2009 at 6:32 am
(3) Dorothy Gray says:

On that topic I would like to say that shake and vac type carpet cleaners harm cats too. They can get skin irritation between their claws. I found that out years ago by accidents. They have all these health warnings on things for children but not much in the UK for animal friendly products.

February 28, 2009 at 2:27 pm
(4) E says:

Franny, I hope you don’t change a thing on your blog because some corporate person is feeding your their line. A simple search of “dangers of triclosan” brings up 9,600 hits on Google. And they are not all talking about the idea that it is an urban legend, either.

May 31, 2010 at 2:22 pm
(5) Alisha says:

Dear Franny,
I was looking up info on the pros and cons of antibacterial products for a school project and I came across this. I have a cat and its always going in places it shouldn’t such as the cabinet where I keep all my cleaners and antibacterial products. I found this very useful and I am now going to be more cautious about what my cat goes near.
Also if I use eco friendly products, will those harm my cat?
thanks lots, Alisha

May 31, 2010 at 3:36 pm
(6) Franny Syufy says:

Alisha, eco friendly products may be friendly to the environment, but they’re not necessarily friendly to cats. I’m not a chemist, but for purposes of your project you might suggest putting child-safe locks or handles on cabinets where you store all cleaners, etc.

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