March is Pet Poison Prevention Month
Hopefully your cat stays indoors as this decreases the likelihood that an unknown item will be consumed but even so, it is a good time to have a look around the house, in your purse or even in your pocket to see what they might contain that could prove toxic to a feline. When it comes to eating things they are not supposed to our pets can be VERY determined and resourceful. Cats can quickly pounce on a dropped pill, knock something down from a shelf or spot that plant that you thought was hidden out of sight.
Cats are naturally curious characters so anything new in their environment needs to be explored and if it smells and tastes good … they will eat it. Cats are known to be excellent hunters but they are also very adept at scavenging, getting into garbage or anything else that is accessible. Almost all cat poisonings are caused by something they have eaten as opposed to something that they came into contact with.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU CAT HAS BEEN POISONED
The most important thing is to call your vet and then get your cat to an animal hospital as soon as possible.
Take along any a sample, container or at least the label of anything that you think your cat may have consumed.
DO NOT induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by your vet.
There are several Pet Poison hotlines. I could not find one that did not charge for their services (if you know of a free pet poison control hotline please email me so I can share the information firstname.lastname@example.org). There are also several apps that can be downloaded at no charge which answer poison control questions but these are a precautionary and educational measure – forewarned is forearmed!
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF POISONING
Obviously the surest way to determine that your cat has ingested poison is if you saw the cat eating or drinking the item. If you only suspect that poison has been ingested it is still wise to take a trip to your vet to have blood and urine tests performed.
Some poisons act quickly after they have been consumed while others may take a day or two to produce noticeable symptoms. These symptoms often mimic other illnesses in cats so if you notice any of the following it is important to get your cat to the vet whether you suspect poison or not.
Is your cat … Do you notice …
Drooling? Pale or yellow gums
Vomiting? Excessive drinking and/or urination
Not eating? Lethargy, weakness or depression
Experiencing Diarrhea? Muscle tremors, seizures or coma
COMMON ITEMS POISONOUS TO YOUR CAT
Anything that you consider poisonous to yourself or your children should also be considered poisonous to your cat. Some items that you may consider innocent can be very toxic to your furry family members. Some are obvious and some are no so likely suspects. A very comprehensive list can be found on the VetMD website here.
Common culprits include: Common Food Items:
Household cleaners Xylitol
Pesticides & fertilizers Bread dough
Acetaminophen Onions, Garlic
Batteries Leeks, Chives
Fabric softener sheets Macadamia Nuts
Flea & tick products (ingested) Tobacco, Nicotine patches
Kerosene, Anti-freeze Grapes, Raisins, Currants
Windshield wiper fluid Grape juice
All prescription and non-prescription medications:
These are often unpalatable even to humans so they are coated in sweet or flavored coatings that pets find tasty. A 350-mg. Tablet of Tylenol or Advil can be fatal to a 10-pound cat.
Medication specifically prescribed for your pet can be poisonous in the wrong doses. As difficult as it is to get your cat to take medication, sometimes the most effective method of pilling is to drop it on the floor so make sure to cap medication before attempting to administer the dose.
Every cat owner knows that you can have plants or you can have cats – not both. Cats will use large potted plants as alternative litter locations, the soil can be so tempting and it’s definitely not good for the plant (I know from personal experience) and many plants are toxic if kitty chews on them. Always assume if one part of the plant is poisonous the whole plant is poisonous!
Jimsonweed Sago Palms
If you are an avid gardener grow some cat grass or catnip indoors for your cat to enjoy.
So, how can you prevent your pet from being accidentally poisoned?
Learn about potential poisons!
Poison proof your home!
Keep cleaning products and toxins behind locked cupboard doors. Resist feeding your pet from the table. Take your own medications in another room behind a locked door. Keep medications in locked cabinets where they cannot be “accidentally” knocked off counters and shelves. Familiarize yourself about plants toxic to cats.
Keep the furry family members safe and keep them around much longer!
The information in this article has been compiled from various reliable websites including VetMD and the National Pet Poison Control Hotline.