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Household Dangers - Common Household Poisons and Cats.

Cats are usually very sensible creatures when it comes to eating things which are not good for them. So why do vets have to deal with cats which have ingested something harmful?

A large part of the answer lies in the fact that cats like to keep themselves clean and will groom off anything on their coats or paws which shouldn't be there. This puts them at an increased risk of swallowing things which they ahve walked through or brushed against.

Cats naturally enjoy nibbling at grass outside. If they do not have access to this due to indoor living or simply because they are young and inquistive, they may chew indoor plants or cut flowers such as lilies.

There are a number of highly dangerous poisons which cat owners should be aware of:

Paracetamol

  • Often given to cats in a caring but misguided attempt to relieve pain.

  • Highly dangerous for cats - just one tablet is enough to cause severe illness or death.

  • Signs of poisoning include depression, vomiting, swelling of the face and paws and a bluish discolouration of the skin.

  • An effective antidote is available, but must be used very soon after the cat has taken the tablet.

  • NEVER GIVE CATS PRODUCTS INTENDED FOR PEOPLE (unless instructed otherwise by your vet.)  

Lilies

  • Cats are very sensitive to plants of Lilium species, including Easter, Stargazer, Tiger and Asiatic lilies.

  • All parts of the lily are toxic, even the flowers and pollen (which can be groomed off its coat if the cat brushes past the flowers). Less than one leaf ingested by a cat can cause kidney failure.

  • Signs to look for are prolonged vomiting, not eating and depression.

  • Urgent vetetrinary treatment is required.

  • CHECK FLOWER LABELS FOR WARNINGS OF TOXICITY TO ANIMALS.

Antifreeze used in cars

  • Often contains ethylene glycol or methanol, which are toxic to cats. These chemicals can also be found in car screenwashes and de-icers.
  • They can cause weakness, hypothermia, breating difficulties, convulsions and kidney damage.
  • Treatment can be difficult and is rarely successful.
  • CLEAN UP ANY SPILLAGES CAREFULLY AND KEEP CATS AWAY.

Permethrin

  • Permethrin is found in many spot-on preparations for dogs used for the control of fleas, biting flies and lice. (It is also an active ingredient in some ant powders.)
  • Poisoing can occur when cats are accidentally treated with such dog flea products or where they groom themselves or other animals treated with the product.
  • Cats may have increased salivation, be thirsty, have a high temperature and tremors or convulsions.
  • Urgent veterinary advice is essential.
  • NEVER USE DOG PRODUCTS ON CATS (unless instructed otherwise by your vet.)

Decorating materials

  • Petroleum distillates found in solvents for paints, glass cleaners, varnishes, wood preservatives and brush cleaners can all cause problems.
  • They are irritants to the skin and footpads causing inflammation, blisters and burning. If the cat then grooms the product off the skin there may be severe irritation to its mouth.
  • Fumes from the products may also cause breathing difficulties.
  • CLEAN UP ANY SPILLAGES CAREFULLY AND KEEP CATS AWAY.

Slug Baits

  • Metaldehyde is an ingredient in some slug baits and any amount can be toxic for a cat.
  • Cats may become unsteady on their legs, salivate and twitch and can suffer convulsions.
  • Signs of poisoning develop quickly so urgent treatment is needed.
  • AVOID PRODUCTS CONTAINING METALDEHYDE IF YOU HAVE PETS.

Information for this article was gained through the Feline Advisory Bureau. More information regarding poisons or for a full list of poisonous plants can be found at www.fabcats.org

Jo Bond RVN

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