Has My Cat Been Poisoned? How to Tell & What to Do Next
While the curiosity of cats can be endearing, sometimes it means they get into things they definitely shouldn’t. Some items around your house could be poisonous to your pet, so prevention is key. Fortunately, many symptoms of cat poisoning are very noticeable. Here’s what you need to know!
What Is Poisonous to a Cat?
There are many things in the average household that may be safe for humans but are poisonous to cats. Most cat owners know of the dangers of antifreeze, for example, but there are other items inside and outside to keep out of reach of your furry friend. A few of the most common poisons include:
- Insecticides, like dog flea medication and lawn and garden products
- Cleaners and chemicals, like toilet bowl cleaner and bleach (which can cause respiratory issues)
- Plants, like some types of ribbon plants, daffodils (which cause stomach problems or damage to the heart), and lily of the valley
- Human medications, like antidepressants and aspirin
- Some human food, like chocolate, onions and garlic (which can cause extensive damage to red blood cells), and candy
These are only a few examples of what can be dangerous for your cat. Before bringing a new item into your home, adding a plant to your garden if you have an outdoor cat, or giving your pet scraps from the table, always double-check if it’s safe for them. Animals, such as some types of snakes and black widows, can also be dangerous if your cat gets bitten.
Signs of Poisoning in Cats
Although movies may portray “poisoning” as something that happens instantly, in real life it’s usually an effect that displays symptoms before becoming fatal. Time is important, however! The sooner you notice the symptoms of poisoning in your cat, the more likely your pet will not suffer any lasting effects.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to take your cat to the vet immediately:
- Not eating
- Off-colored gums
- Excessive thirst
- Hyper behavior
Cats are experts at hiding their symptoms—or even hiding themselves—from their owners, so keep a keen eye out for changes in your cat’s behavior.
What to Do If Your Cat Is Poisoned
If you notice anything strange or unusual in your cat’s behavior or health, or you witness him eat a poisonous item, it’s best to visit your vet or go to a veterinary ER hospital. Don’t wait for symptoms. Catching a problem early can help prevent it from becoming something bigger.
You may want to consider calling an Animal Poison Control hotline. Describing the item and/or symptoms to an expert can help you determine what to do if your pet was poisoned, even after normal veterinarian hours.
It’s a good idea to bring along a sample to the vet of whatever your furry friend ate, as it can help your vet create a treatment plan—unless your cat was bitten by a venomous animal. Don’t bring the animal in if it’s still alive. Attempting to catch it could put your health or life at risk. If the animal is dead, carefully bring it in with your cat, so your veterinarian can determine the correct antidote.
Put your veterinarian, emergency vet, and even perhaps Animal Poison Control in your contact list in case of an emergency. Keep your pet’s ID, medical records, and microchip info near the front door in case you have to make a quick trip to the vet due to poisoning or another problem.
What Happens When You Get to the Vet with a Poisoned Cat
Your veterinarian will create a treatment plan for your cat, depending on what he ate or came in contact with and the symptoms he is displaying. Your vet may induce vomiting, provide an antidote or other medications, or give your cat fluids. Never induce vomiting on your own nor try any at-home medications on your cat unless specifically advised to do so by a professional. Administering them incorrectly could do more harm.
Your cat’s doctor will most likely want you to come in for follow-up visits to monitor your cat’s progress and health. If, after treatment, the symptoms of poisoning return, bring your cat back to the vet immediately.
How to Prevent Poisoning in Your Cat
Many new parents baby-proof their homes when bringing home a newborn. The best way to prevent poisoning in your cat is to approach his safety the same way. Whether you already have a cat or are welcoming a new kitten, these steps can keep your cat curious, but out of harm’s way:
- Keep all known poisons out of reach or locked away.
- Keep medications in child-proof containers in closets or other safe locations.
- Research any human food before giving it to your cat (or don’t give it to him at all, especially if you don’t know all the ingredients).
- Clean up immediately after eating or cooking.
- Investigate all new plants that you bring into your home or plant in the garden.
- Do not use insecticides in the house.
- Refrain from using garden products if you have an outdoor or indoor-outdoor cat.
- Keep garbage out of reach.
- Carefully follow the instructions on pet medications to avoid overdosing or poisoning from incorrect skin contact.
If your cat is displaying the symptoms of poisoning, or you suspect he ate something poisonous or dangerous, time is of the essence. It’s vital that you get him to a vet or contact a professional as soon as possible. Fast treatment can reduce the chance of lasting effects on your pet’s health.
Do you suspect your cat may be poisoned? Is he displaying the symptoms of poisoning in cats? Visit us at 2519 Cinco Park Place in Katy, Texas, or give us a call at 281-693-7387 for advice or assistance. If we are closed, we’ll refer you to a nearby veterinary emergency center.
The Team @ Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital
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