• 24 APR 14
    • 0
    Poisoning and your Cat

    Poisoning and your Cat

    We all know cats are special. But so is their physiology. Your cat is not a little dog, nor is it a little person, although we often think they are! Their body functions and systems operate uniquely and therefore handle common substances differently, making some everyday human and dog products very dangerous to your cat.

    Paracetamol and most other common human painkillers are deadly to your cat. One tablet can have fatal consequences, yet it is still one of the most common toxicities we see in veterinary practice. NEVER give ANY paracetamol to your cat. The drug causes destruction of the blood cells, swelling of the face, jaundice and ultimately liver failure. If treated early and aggressively, it may be successful, but often, fatal liver failure may still follow. Your veterinarian may sometimes prescribe small doses of aspirin as a painkiller or for heart conditions. This is safe IF used at the correct dose, follow instructions carefully.

    Natural does not automatically mean safe and non-toxic. Some of the most toxic substances known to man are natural. Therefore, just because a product is labelled “natural”, it does not mean it is safe to give to your cat. We have seen serious toxicities with human protein supplements, a “natural herbal” human shampoo, and even baby food. Onions, garlic and cabbage are poisonous if taken in excessive amounts, and toxicities in cats are not uncommon. These foodstuffs should be avoided in cats, or fed only in very small amounts, as they result in destruction of the red blood cells.

    Dips, shampoo, flea and tick products designed for use on dogs should never be used on cats. These products can be extremely poisonous to cats, while quite safe in dogs. Even some antiparasitic eardrops are to be used in dogs only. ALWAYS read the label and follow the instructions carefully. If you are uncertain, rather do not use the product and seek veterinary advice.

    Rat poison ingestion results in a bleeding tendency. This may not be obvious, and haemorrhage can only occur internally in the lungs and chest resulting in shortness of breath. If you suspect your cat may have eaten rat poison, always alert your vet. Early treatment can be very successful, but once the patient is in a crisis it may be too late.

    Our human drugs and medication should never be left out where they can be accidentally ingested by animals or children. Luckily, cats are fussier and will not eat everything they come across. Dogs on the other hand, will eat and drink almost anything they can find, including prescription drugs, oral contraceptives, painkillers, and even toxic household products like polish, paint thinners, cleaners and paraffin. Even chocolates are poisonous if ingested in excess!

    Food should always be carefully examined for freshness. If it is not fit for human consumption, it is probably not fit for your cat. Food that smells off or rancid should be discarded. Any food with mould should definitely be discarded as the toxins from these fungi can be extremely dangerous and result in liver failure, other organ failure or brain damage. Animals are as susceptible to common food poisoning as we are, and may develop severe vomiting and diarrhoea. Your veterinarian may refer to this form of gastro-enteritis as “garbage disease”.

    In general, do not give any medication to your cat that was not prescribed by your veterinarian. Do not administer or use any product on the skin that was not specifically prescribed, unless the label clearly states that it is to be used on cats. Always read the label, the instructions for use and the warnings and follow these closely. Do not guess or take a chance, it may have serious consequences. Store medication, poisons and household products securely. If you suspect contact with any poison or dangerous product, contact your veterinarian even if you do not see any abnormal symptoms. Early treatment may prevent serious illness. Always play it safe!

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