Tiny Timmy is a kitty who has neurological damage from exposure to toxic over-the-counter flea and tick products. Timmy came into our lives in September of 2009, and we were not prepared for what came next.  We rescued him, having been told he had a “muscle condition”. The truth was far more horrific.

Timmy’s coat felt dry and flaky to us. When we asked if he had fleas (we have other cats and had the flea issue under control) we were handed a bottle of Sergeant’s Flea and Tick Spray for Cats. “Only two bucks at WalMart” they bragged. Timmy could hardly keep his head up, let alone walk. They laughed, calling him a “drunken kitty” as they tried get him to run, pushing him on the concrete like a broken  Tonka Truck.

We brought him home and tried to tend to him. It became apparent that more was going on than just a “muscle disorder”. We flea combed and bathed him, and despite having been treated by the toxic Sergeant’s product, we still pulled over 350 fleas off Timmy’s tiny body.

After bathing him, we rushed him to the vet. He was so weak, so disoriented and could not stand on his own. He felt warm all over. We brought the bottle of flea spray, just in case it was needed. The vet took one look at Timmy and asked about flea treatment. We handed over the bottle and she reviewed the ingredients – pyrethrin, and after a long chemical string of gobbly gook, permethrin. She said he showed classic symptoms of severe toxicosis from these ingredients.

She stated we could take him to the emergency vet, who would be able to watch him over the weekend, but she did not expect him to make it past 48 hours. She didn’t believe treating his tremors would really help him, and might cause more damage at this point. We asked, if we were to take him home, what we should watch for. He was having small focal seizures, tremors, could not stand without falling over and was generally simply miserable.

The vet told us to watch for major seizures and told us what those looked like as well as to keep him well hydrated. We looked at Timmy, his poor broken body, and we decided that considering what an abusive place we rescued him from, we could not bear the thought of him being dumped at an emergency vet, in a kennel and to die without knowing that not all humans were bad.

Slowly he started to improve as my partner and I kept vigil over him day and night for a week. He became more interested in the world around him. He was a very clean kitty and prided himself on that. The first day I saw him try to poo, it broke my heart. His whole body went stiff and the toppled over backwards. The grief of what had been done to Timmy was too great.

We ran to Home Depot and bought some insulation tubing for plumbing pipes. We put it around the hard edge of his litter box, converting it to a Bumper Box, so he wouldn’t hurt himself.

You never know what will send you on an Odyssey. For us, it was Timmy coming into our lives. It is now almost one year later. Timmy not only survived, but he thrives. He is happy, playful, well loved and now knows that not all cats are terrible (he lives with several) and that not all dogs will hurt him. Most of all, he knows that somehow, he is safe and never will be harmed again.

Timmy has accomplished so many things no one thought he would accomplish: He survived, the loves to climb his tall scratching post, he can run with control and turn on a dime, he can play and keep up with the other cats, his small muscle control is getting better. He even won his week, Week 8, in the Bissell Most Valuable Pet Contest. We entered him to gain awareness about his story, but he won because of his wonderful friends and supporters from Facebook.

Timmy is on a Healing Journey and shares his ups and downs, his triumphs and frustrations with his friends.

Currently, other than napping, eating and playing, Timmy spends his time as a Spokeskitty against these over-the-counter products, educates pet parents and advocates alternatives. Tiny Timmy is not so “Tiny” anymore.

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  • i don’t know who is more amazing……Tiny Timmy or his peeps. 🙂 with love from Reno 🙂

  • Myron Wood<span class="comment-author-location"> from Nowra, New South Wales, Australia</span>

    Timmy you are amazing and inspirational and teach people world wide the importance of love, commitment and the horrors of the nasty flea products. Thank you Timmy and thanks so much to your wonderful family for the love they show to you and all of us xx

    Myron <3

  • goldy<span class="comment-author-location"> from Seattle, WA, United States</span>

    What a heart wrencing story! I am thankful Timmy has good people like you who are caring for him and glad too that he is alive. I won’t use any sergeant’s flea products on any of my animals because of stories like yours.I am also very careful after using a vet recommended flea product just in case. Keep on truckin Timmy and his loving, kind peeps

  • Catzowey TT! Youza da spokespurrrson fur saving da abundacat lives of meowsters and pooches. I salut youza:)

  • Pigeon<span class="comment-author-location"> from Wakefield, MA, United States</span>

    So Glad to hear there is a happy ending to such a sad story! Thank you for sharing this important information about the toxic over-the-counter flea and tick products! Keep up the good work helping others, Timmy! Love ya. ♥

  • Karen Galmiche<span class="comment-author-location"> from Navarre, FL, United States</span>

    Tiny Timmy is certainly an inspiration! I never knew about the many toxic products on the market. Thanks to Timmy I am trying to educate my friends and those I don’t even know about these products. Thank you Timmy and thank you to Timmy’s family. You’re the best! 🙂

  • Mousie Kitteh<span class="comment-author-location"> from Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand</span>

    I luvz u Timmy! U is so brwave and strong! And I luvz yor peeps too; for their brwavery and strength! <3

  • David Truitt<span class="comment-author-location"> from Baltimore, MD, United States</span>

    Love ya,Timmy!!!!

  • Bob The Tomato<span class="comment-author-location"> from Columbia, SC, United States</span>

    I wubs ewe, TT!!! <3

  • Colleen<span class="comment-author-location"> from Ottawa, ON, Canada</span>

    Loves you Timmy from Me, my Bella and my Rusty, furbabies xx God Bless you !

  • this story made me cry i’m so glad it had a happy ending xx

  • Paigr Lovelace<span class="comment-author-location"> from Shelby, OH, United States</span>

    I am so glad to know you. You are a hero! Met you on Facebook and now I tell everyone who has cats about you so they don’t make the mistake of using OTC flea and tick spray.

  • Kristine<span class="comment-author-location"> from Albany, NY, United States</span>

    Hey Tiny T,
    I am glad that you are not in that bad place anymore!
    I am glad that you are in a safer place where you are loved.
    I have to say your story brought tears to my eyes!
    I have voted twice today, I didn’t realize that you can vote more than once per day!
    Hugs to ya Tiny T!

  • Sherrie<span class="comment-author-location"> from United States</span>

    Even without stories like yours, common sense told me poison means POISON! So, from the time I got my first kitty 25 years ago, I’ve looked for natural, more gentle ways to treat fleas. BTW, just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe – poison Ivy is natural too! And I want something that is poison to fleas, obviously. But, with a little research and using my head, I can come up with prevention and remedies and find products like your Sudz!

  • Lesa Cox<span class="comment-author-location"> from Tullahoma, TN, United States</span>

    what about the asshats you got him from.. what was done to them or about them.. that is soooo awful. I just wanted to weep when i heard what was done to him like he was a play truck to be pushed. Poor baby, I am so glad someone like you is watching and loving him.
    thanks to you life in the world is better.

    • Lesa – We reported them to the Humane Society, which investigates all animal cruelty and abuse reports here. They went out and sadly, the people were able to hide a new “muscle disorder” cat like Timmy at the time. However, they stop by from time to time to keep an eye on things. The original place he came from we are still trying to find. We have it down to a name and city area, but the guy lives primarily under the radar. We have support of the Humane Society and of the EPA on this, if only we could find him.

  • Susan Dumas<span class="comment-author-location"> from Glasgow, Glasgow City, United Kingdom</span>

    SO glad little Timmy recovered. Surely that product should be banned?

    • Hi Susan – Timmy is still on his Healing Journey. He still wobbles when he walks, has small seizures and some other issues to overcome, but he is incredibly happy and getting better!

      The answer to whether “that product” or others like it should be banned is a complex one. It’s part of the danger with these types of products. We assume, as pet parents, that because they are on the market they should have some measure of safety. That’s simply not the case.

      The EPA (who regulates these) by law has to weigh the profit loss to manufacturers (called “stake holders” or “registrants”). They hardly ban anything since they lost the asbestos lawsuit. Asbestos manufacturers went out of business because of lawsuits filed against them on behalf of victims. Another reason to NOT support torte reform!

      I am working a page with “Why” on it. As I said it’s complex. I will boil it down to a few points:

      1) Chemical companies spend a lot of money on lobbying, skewing “science” and sneaky marketing.
      2) Chemical companies (and distributors, etc.) can sue the EPA if they want to re-classify a pet product to a higher carcinogen rating or higher toxicology rating for “loss of profits”.
      3) The same is true to “banning” bad products.
      4) Chemical companies pay experts to debunk studies that show their products are dangerous.
      5) A tiny amount of manufacturers control 98% of all pesticides in the market today.
      6) The EPA relies of manufacturers to truthfully submit adverse reaction data and this has been an issue in the past. They often under-report/mis-report.
      7) The laws currently protect profits over human and pet health. The EPA, despite perhaps wanting to do more, has their hands somewhat tied.
      8) Chemical companies buy university scientists and other scientists to carry out skewed and inaccurate studies for toxicology. The EPA only considers these studies for registration decisions. These studies do not need to be peer-reviewed or released publicly.

      Anyway, that they tiny short version!

  • LadyDarya

    The picture above of the toilet full of fleas reminds me of a rescue I got from a co-worker. I worked community mental health at the time and a fellow case manager called and told me about this real sick kitten some of their clients had and that all of his litter mates had already died. I told her to bring him to me and I would see what I could do. I have never seen so many fleas on one animal before in my entire life. I had advantage for small cats in the house so I used a small amount on him and just sat with him for most of the night until he could get to the vet. At some point he let out a cry and I came in to find a million dead fleas on the floor. I swept up hundreds of dead bodies and took the flea comb to him again and got off more dead bodies. That image will stay with forever. After a trip to the vet and some TLC he showed me his name was Ambush and he was later transfered to another rescue volunteer (I had 13 at the time – one of the rescues had kittens and I was swamped to say the least). I am so glad that Timmy was found and given the chance he so needed. From experience special needs kitties (I have 2) make life that much more special.

    • Anonymous

      Lady Darya – Thank you for sharing your experience and working so hard for rescues. I will never forget how many fleas Timmy had, despite having been treated. We used diatomaceous earth on the carpet in his room, vacuumed, washed his bedding and flea combed him chronically. He had several baths those first two weeks. Timmy is a light and a joy. He makes us smile almost daily.

  • Whistlewind

    Thanks for sharing your story. Timmy is beautiful little boy!!!!

  • Breana

    Thank you for sharing this information. I eat up any information concerning pet health, but this was the first time I had ever heard of this issue. I will definitely be taking a closer look at what my furkid is exposed to.

  • Danats

    So glad to hear about Timmy and his story. I have been reading more and more on this subject and I have some products at home (although rarely used) I will be trying to find a way to safely dispose of and never use them on any of my animals again.

  • Pooters Mom

    You know, I’ve always given my cat Hartz Plus – she is 8 years old now and it never seemed to work very well and she hated it-was always lethargic for a few days after I applied it-recently the vet told me how bad it really is-now I have about 6 cats I am taking care of – I can’t afford the expensive stuff and after reading about Timmy and realizing my cat could have had the same reaction – I am hoping this might be the safe alternative I need to take care of my beautiful kitties.  I absolutely LOVE Tiny Timmys story- how horrible what he went through-what a trooper- 

  • Elisa Taylor

    Thank you for telling me what flea products are good. I have a houseful of cat I live with (since they outnumber me 22 to 2). I also have 4 dogs. Twenty of my cats came off the euthanasia list where they were on cat death row. Several are declawed and one is even toothless and declawed. Now I know what to stay away from in getting rid of the fleas. Thank you for telling your story. You’re a beautiful kitty and I know your human critters will always take care of you.

    • you have 20 cats?  Isn’t that considered animal hoarding?  My God!  Nobody can take care of that many animals that is insane!  Glad Timmy is ok that is heartbreaking but people like you are on animal hoarders and I am sorry that is some kind of mental illness when people do this and you KNOW IT!!  Animals cannot be cared for well in this great number!  WOW….. I can’t stop shaking my head…. That really really upsets me!

      • Jolene Darrah<span class="comment-author-location"> from Kitchener, ON, Canada</span>

        Grace, Do you know what hording is?
        myself I do not count numbers of Cats as Hoarding as I myself, I have seen hoarders with only 4 cats in their care who were in awful shape with no medical, living in a disgusting situation.
        To me what defines an if someone is or is not a Cat hoarder is the care, or lack of care given to a Cat, not the amount of Cats.

  • Pizonapodis2

    Just kinda stumbled onto this site as I was doing research on the Assurity stuff.  So good to see other people that will take the time and effort to make sure our furry family members are well taken care of.  I have 7 cats and one dog, and I love them so I am glad I found this site.  Kudos and karma to you for taking Tiny Tim into your family and loving him back to health!!

    • Anonymous

      Timmy is a joy. The word about these products spreads one person at a time, fur parent to fur parent. It’s tough since so many products get re-labeled and re-named after public issues, but we all keep plodding on!

  • Blaw66

    Thank you Timmy for being a SpokesCat about these horrible products. Sadly I was misinformed a few years ago and lost my beloved Squirrel and Harley (kitties) to otc flea treatments. They both succombed to toxic poisoning. It absolutely broke my heart!

    • Anonymous

      Hi Blaw – I am so sorry to hear about your loss. It is so something that can be avoided, or at least minimized, with only a few changes. *sigh* Would you be willing to leave your story for others to read under the Your Stories tab? I think it helps other people a lot.

  • Ada Lonsdale

    aww  so glad to hear a that timmy is doing well, in  which could have been very different Timmy is very lucky to have such loving owners like yr self,  people who make the product needs to be looked into by the government, and taken off the market   love to timmy xxx

  • Josie

    You’ve been on my facebook page for awhile now and I thought this was a cute kitty but after reading about his history and your efforts on his behalf I think you deserve a Special Award!  You are the kind of people we need more of!  Thank You.

    • Anonymous

      🙂 Timmy gives his *headbonks*

      • SLFC<span class="comment-author-location"> from Ironton, OH, United States</span>

        I wish I could have found this website before. My entire life got screwed up and ruined because I thought I could trust my mother to follow a simple request.

  • Britawells10

    that is so sad :/

    • Anonymous

      Yet hopefully inspirational toos! *headbonks*

  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much Anna!!! This is a wonderful show of support! Are we Facebook friends yet? If so, what’s your facebook name so I can thank you publicly.

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  • Christian Meland

    How is Tiny Timmy today ?   Please tell me.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Christian – Timmy still wobbles when he walks and has mild tremors & focal seizures, but since he has been on a protocol of various supplements and medicine, as well as having acupuncture, he is SO MUCH BETTER. If you go to the Timmy TV tab and scroll down you can see his newest videos that have mostly newer footage of him. (There are some older clips in there too.)

  • Linda Little


  • Lisabet Ellis

    I just recently got involved in the Timmy Stones project, and I wonder what are the alternative products that should be used instead?  “Frontline” and “Advantage,” both formerly sold only by vets are now available (locked up) at most pet stores.  Are they on the safe list, or not?  Since our kitties are indoor-only, we’ve never had a flea problem, and don’t need those treatments.  That’s why I don’t know what’s in them.
    Thank you.

    • Rita Inez Zell Lusk<span class="comment-author-location"> from Knoxville, TN, United States</span>

      Yes I’d like to know about Advantage… we used that on my kitty Nikki and now we’re getting another (Nik was left at home with my parents when I moved to grad school then passed away a few months later) and I want to know if Advantage is safe!

      • TinyTimmy<span class="comment-author-location"> from Portland, OR, United States</span>

        Hi Rita – Please check our alternatives page at http://www.tinytimmy.org/alternatives Advantage is a pesticide, which is designed to kill, so in essence, none of them are “safe” nor can they make those claims. You can also check the Green Paws website, where toxicity is rated for different products.

  • Shann

    My Kitty has liver failure after using Frontline products.. I’m so happy to see that some animals are able to overcome the horrible things they put in our animals medicines.

  • Molly

    I love your story about Timmy.  He is such a brave little kitty for all he has gone through. And, you saved him from those horrible people. You are his angels. He is so lucky to have you as his parents. God bless you.

  • judi

    i am glad you saved  Timmy as a groomer i have seen several animals suffering from fleas and assorted sprays that are suppose to kill fleas. I have found that Dawn dish soap mixed with water before applied to animal thats what I use on my own pet.

    • Dgraider1

      Hi Judi,  Just discovered this web site.  Do you wash the cat with Dawn soap or do you spray this mixture and leave it on?

  • Francene Alexander (Mattucci)

    I have been an animal rescue person for my entire life and spent thousands over the years saving lives.  I have also been a professional pet sitter for 18 years.  I will be spreading your information to all my clients and friends.  I simply was going online today to “checkout” Assurity before using it on my rescued sweethearts.  Thank God for your website.  I too cried reading Timmy’s story and am so grateful that you were in charge of him instead of others who might not value this wee angel as you did.  Thank you so much for spreading this information around the world.  May God bless you, Timmy and everything you try to accomplish in this world!  Francene Alexander Mattucci “Nanny Fran”, Clearwater, Florida, Franandamy@gmail.com

  • Housemousetwo

    Thank you for all the great advice. 

  • hugs purrs, and headbonks, Timmy!

    • TinyTimmy<span class="comment-author-location"> from Portland, OR, United States</span>

      *headbonks* Mr. Michael!!!

  • Kjk6442<span class="comment-author-location"> from Chicago, IL, United States</span>

    Thanks for sharing and keeping all of us aware of these problems.  I guess anyhting goes when you can make a buck.  This demonstrates that we have to regulate companies or suffer the consequences.

    • TinyTimmy<span class="comment-author-location"> from Portland, OR, United States</span>

      Agreed. Sadly the governmental regulatory cogs at the EPA move slowly and favor companies. Enforcement and some chops would go a long way.

  • I thank you for this I have used the exact flea stuff mention in your story of tiny timmy and I can tell you it was watered down and did nothing and I was tired of putting stuff on their skin I would not put on my own .,we went to a animal feed store they gave us some brown powder it is safe for animals of all kinds and safe on us too I accidently got some on me when we were treating the flea outbreak it worked wonders and in time we were flea free but I have been reading more and more deaths are happening because of cheap flea treaters so I am starting to wonder should we just stop using them all together? or should we working poor here spend the extra cash and buy frontline? anyways I want to say thank you for this story I know now that brand is on my boycott forever list .thank god timmy you found timmy and he is healthy as he can be .

    • TinyTimmy<span class="comment-author-location"> from Portland, OR, United States</span>

      Thanks Laurie for your post and sharing your story. You might want to do a search on this site for fipronil, which is Frontline (Pet Armor and others are generics and there many problems with them). Also, check the links for OTC resources on the side bar and check Green Paws. They rate almost all products on a scale of one to three paws for toxicity. You might also want to check the Alternatives on the page as well.

  • sandy3549<span class="comment-author-location"> from Palm Desert, CA, United States</span>

    As I was reading your story, I started crying, I just couldn’t help it.  For people to treat a poor little animal like that is horrible!  I know what I’d like to do to people like that, but I’d probably end up in jail.  I’m so glad that his gardian angel was watching over him and brought him to you.  Because you are angels!  He is a wonderful loving little cat and I’m so glad he is with you.  I’ve had many wonderful loving cats in my life and they have brought me much joy, love and friendship.  I also have dogs.  I love them all ( several of them were abused too.).  As to that flea spray, I really think that there should be warnings on the bottle, in the literature and on the TV and radio commercials.  Several years my good friend lost her cat after using flea a product.  I wonder how many other people have lost their friends to the flea products?  I would be honored to have the opportunity to help you spread the word about Timmy   I will be getting my Timmy Stones and I hope I will be able to help you with other things also.  You are great people, Sandy

    • TinyTimmy<span class="comment-author-location"> from Portland, OR, United States</span>

      Thank you for being a part of The Wave!

  • Melissa<span class="comment-author-location"> from Airdrie, AB, Canada</span>

    This is such an amazing story. I am so happy there are people like you in this world.

    • TinyTimmy<span class="comment-author-location"> from Portland, OR, United States</span>

      Thank you Melissa, but honestly, I am the lucky one. Not one day goes by that Timmy doesn’t make me smile and heals my heart.

  • Erik MacNeil<span class="comment-author-location"> from Cincinnati, OH, United States</span>

    U r 1 tuff kitty

    • TinyTimmy<span class="comment-author-location"> from Portland, OR, United States</span>

      Thank you so very much! Timmy is tough, but also very happy!

  • Autumn Jodi<span class="comment-author-location"> from Eureka, CA, United States</span>

    Thanks for sharing this post to educate others. Pyrethrin products are a neurotoxin. I never use them. It is safer to bathe and comb cats. Daily cat combing, washing bedding, and regular vacuuming should eliminate flea infestation.
    Glad to hear that your kitty,Timmy is doing better.
    Autumn Jodi

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  • paulgj<span class="comment-author-location"> from Issaquah, WA, United States</span>

    What a wonderful heart wrenching story – thank you for taking care of Timmy and spreading the word about cheap flea meds. We need more good people like yourselves in the world.

  • Jolene Darrah<span class="comment-author-location"> from Kitchener, ON, Canada</span>

    Awwe, Thank You for sharing Timmy’s Story. I am glad everything turned out alright <3

  • Ron<span class="comment-author-location"> from Ithaca, NY, United States</span>

    Wow …