Let’s take a minute to paws for a while and celebrate the National Animal Poison Prevention Week, which is observed every third week of March. This week focuses on raising awareness to fur parents on how to protect their cats from being poisoned, to be aware of the signs and symptoms of poisoning, and to ensure that their home is safe for their fur babies.
Cat poisonings are relatively rare, but they do happen. Because cats are compact in size, small amounts of poisonous substance can make them feel ill. Cats are known to be clean and meticulous in nature, and the most common cause of poisoning in cats is ingestion by licking a toxin off the fur.
So, the question is, how do we avoid and protect our cats from being poisoned?
Know the Signs and Symptoms of Poisoning in Cats
If you think your cat has been poisoned, we recommend that you call your veterinarian or a Pet Helpline immediately. However, it is also important that you are aware of the signs and symptoms so you can seek help right away.
According to VCA Animal Hospitals (https://vcahospitals.com), the following are clinical signs that your cat may have been poisoned:
- Gastrointestinal signs such as drooling, lack of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Neurological signs including hiding, excitability, incoordination, tremors, seizures, lethargy, or coma
- Respiratory signs such as coughing, sneezing, or difficulty breathing
- Skin signs including redness, inflammation, and swelling
- Liver failure that causes lack of appetite, vomiting, dehydration, jaundice, diarrhea, and weight loss
- Kidney failure that may show as lack of appetite, vomiting, halitosis (bad breath), increased drinking and urination, decreased drinking and urination, and weight loss..
Understand What Causes Poisoning in Cats
Cats can be poisoned in many ways. It occurs when they eat something toxic, inhale chemicals or if they absorb it through their skin. It is not common for cats to consume poisonous food unless it is accidentally mixed in their food.Here are common household items that every cat parents should keep out of reach from their fur babies:
As much as we love to spoil our cats with delicious food, there are some ingredients and condiments like Onions and Garlic that can cause serious health problems such as blood-related diseases. Chocolates, on the other hand, are dangerous not only for cats but for other animals, too.
Other food and drinks that are considered poisonous to cats are the following: Alcoholic Beverages, Bones, Caffeinated Beverages, Dog Food, Fat Trimmings, Grape and Raisins, Milk and Dairy Products and Raw Eggs, Fish and Meats.
Having plants at home doesn't just look good—they can make us feel good, too! However, you must know that some plants such as Lilies, Daffodils and Tulips are toxic and dangerous for your cats. A petal of lily is enough to cause serious damage, while a small amount of pollen or an accidental consumption of water from the vase may result in potentially acute kidney failure.
Other specific plants to avoid are the following: Autumn Crocus, Azaleas and Rhododendrons, Cyclamen, Dieffenbachia, Kalanchoe, Oleander and Sago Palm.
Chemicals and Household Products
While we want to keep our house clean and free from dirt and viruses, we also need to make sure that they are kept in a safe and secured place. These chemicals and household products can cause burns, profuse drooling, vomiting, difficulty in breathing or worse, death.
The most common products to avoid are Antifreeze or ethylene glycol, Bleach, Carpet Fresheners and Shampoo, Detergents, Disinfectants, Essential Oils, Fertilizers, Lead-based Paints, Fabric Softeners and Toilet-cleaning Products.
Most of the drugs that are safe for humans such as Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) can be deadly to cats even in small amounts. You should never give your cats any medications unless it is prescribed by your Vet.
Furthermore, if you have applied ointments or creams, make-ups, and cosmetics, you should avoid physical contact with your cats as these items are poisonous to them.
According to Pet Poison Helpline (https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com), the Top 10 Human Medications that are Poisonous to Pets are the following:
- NSAIDs -non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
- Acetaminophen - pain medications
- ADD/ADHD medications
- Benzodiazepines and sleep aids
- Birth control pills
- ACE Inhibitors (used to treat high blood pressure)
- Beta-blockers (also used to treat high blood pressure)
- Thyroid hormones
- Cholesterol lowering agents (often called statins)
What To Do If Your Cat Has Been Poisoned?
Always remember that when you suspect that your cat is being poisoned, every minute counts and you should contact your vet or call a pet helpline, immediately. If you are unsure what is causing your cat to feel ill, it is still best to bring them to your veterinarian.
Bring a sample specimen (urine, stool, or vomit) if available so you can help your vet to diagnose and determine the cause and source of poisoning. They can run tests to come up with a diagnosis and a treatment plan for your cat’s speedy recovery.
"An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure”
They say prevention is always better than cure, however, unfortunately, accidents like poisonings may happen and you should always be prepared. Make sure to create a Pet Poison First Aid Kit and have an Emergency Plan that is suited for your cats’ needs.
Overall, if you are in doubt and don’t know what to do in these kinds of situations, always ask and seek expert’s advice.