Common things can be poisonous to ‘curious’ cats (column)
Cats are curious creatures. They love to sneak into cupboards, climb on counters and seek out places we never would think could result in toxin exposure. Unfortunately, I have seen far too many unexpected feline toxicities lately, prompting me to warn the “curious cat” owners to beware.
Poisoning in cats can include exposure to human medications, insecticides, plants, rodenticides, household cleaners and ethylene glycol (antifreeze).
Symptoms of potential toxin exposure include excessive salivation (drooling), vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, stumbling and changes in mentation.
Despite the fact that cats can be somewhat choosey about what they elect to get into, we are still seeing a rise in the number of cats that succumb to poisoning.
Some of the more common toxicities we are seeing include:
Plant toxicity, lily exposure
There are many kinds of lilies, including the Easter lily, tiger lily and Asiatic lily.
Curious cats love to chew on these plants, and many owners are not aware that any portion of a lily can result in kidney failure. The quicker the pet is taken to the veterinarian, the better chance of treatment as after three days have passed, irreversible kidney failure sets in.
Signs of lily exposure include excess drooling, vomiting, inappetence, lack of urination, dehydration and unsteady movements.
If you suspect lily toxicity, then get your cat to the vet as soon as possible.
Ethylene Glycol Toxicity
Antifreeze toxicity is associated with pets licking antifreeze off the ground from a leaking automobile, or from the container itself. Because antifreeze has such a sweet taste, an unknowing cat can lick just less than a teaspoon and result in fatal kidney failure.
Signs of antifreeze toxicity include excess drooling, vomiting, stumbling and a drunk behavior. Should you suspect toxicity, time is of the essence.
Aspirin and Tylenol both can be toxic to your cats.
Signs of Aspirin toxicity include immediate lack of appetite, vomiting of blood, coffee ground appearing vomit and feces, dark feces, hyperthermia, increased respirations, lethargy and kidney failure.
Signs of Tylenol toxicity include fast breathing, blue gums, increased heart rate, listlessness and vomiting.
Because cats have differences in liver function, they are able to process far less amounts of Tylenol or Acetaminophen which results not only in liver damage but red blood cell damage.
A cat should never be given Tylenol for any medical reasons.
Aspirin at lower doses can be safe, for example, the safe dose is 10mg/kg every 48 hours. The toxic dose is 80-120 mg/kg for 10-12 days.
If you suspect your cat is in pain, then veterinary advice may be better than self-treatment.
In conclusion, there are many toxins our furry felines can be exposed to, and it’s best to be aware of the common toxicities and try to not have those toxins in a place where your cat is likely to get into them. If you suspect toxicity, then call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
You can also consult the Animal Poison Control at 1-888-426-4435.
Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM, owner of Mountain Mobile Vet and The Animal Hospital Center, submitted this column. You can reach her at 970-328-7085.
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