Tag Archives: poisoning

Summer safety

Now that summer is here (hopefully) there are a few things that can be done to keep your cat safe, healthy and comfortable.

White and pale cats are vulnerable to sunburn, particularly on ears and noses, where hair is sparse. Just like with humans this can lead to skin cancer which may require surgery. It’s best to try and keep cats indoors when the sun is strongest particularly for cats that like sunbathing! Also use sunblock on vulnerable areas you can buy special animal products of use a non toxic human sunblock.

It is important for your cat to be hydrated so make sure there is access to a fresh bowl at all times, it’s also a good idea to keep one outside.

Cats can get warm quite quickly and you might find them seeking out cooler places to lie such as the hearth or tiled floor. Some cats also like to lie in front of a fan. Please look out for signs of overheating such as lethargy and panting, encourage your cat to go somewhere cooler and have a drink. If you think they are suffering from heatstroke -collapse, lethargy and dribbling you can also help them to cool by damping their fur with cool not cold water and seek veterinary advice. Outside provide areas cats can find shade such as under large leafy plants, bushes or man made structures.

If you like to have your windows open then a curious cat may find this irresistible and you may need to use window restrainers or a screen to prevent an indoor cat escaping or falls from heights.

It is easy for a cat go wander into a shed, garage or greenhouse and get accidently shut in, if your cat goes missing check these first (and your neighbours) as it can have dire consequences.

Please remember alot of plants, especially lilies are toxic to cats.  Signs of plant poisoning are difficulty breathing, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive drinking, staggering and possibly changes to heart rate. Urgent veterinary care will be needed.

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Slug Pellet Warning

Our latest blog has been written by Joanna Woodnutt, who takes time out from her veterinary student life to help with fostering and administration of the group. She has an interest in feline medicine.

 

As the weather is getting warmer, many of us are starting to head out into our gardens. Winter rubbish is cleared away, fences are painted, and seeds are sown. Inevitably, the slugs will come out of hibernation just as your seeds are beginning to grow, and it’s easy to be tempted to resort to slug pellets, but beware!

Slug pellets containing metaldehyde are extremely toxic to cats. Most of the common ‘blue pellets’ that you see on the shelves in the shop contain metaldehyde- a quick look on the back of the pack should let you know! Unfortunately these pellets are mostly made of something a little like cat biscuits to attract the slugs, but this can also tempt hungry cats to eat them.

Photo by Amelia Hunt

Photo by Amelia Hunt

If you suspect your cat has eaten metaldehydes, please take them straight to the vets and tell them what you’re worried about.

Ways to prevent your cat becoming ill:

The best way to stop your cat becoming ill is to not use metaldehyde slug bait. Try copper tapes or picking them off by hand. ‘Nemaslug’ is a fantastic product that contains slug parasites- these attack and kill slugs and snails but not other animals, so are completely safe.

If you absolutely must use metaldehydes, or you suspect your neighbours are, other options to help to prevent them getting ill are:

  • Try to keep your cat indoors during late spring
  • Don’t let your cat out whilst hungry
  • Give your neighbours some cat-repellant granules to use to try to keep your cat out
  • Give your neighbours some ‘Nemaslug’, and ask them not to use metaldehydes

Nemaslug

Signs to look out for:

Please note your cat may not exhibit all or any of these, but these are the most common signs.

  • Incoordination- unable to walk properly
  • Fast breathing
  • Vomiting and Diarrhoea
  • Noisy mewling and other signs of anxiety
  • Over-reaction to loud noises or touch
  • Twitching or jerky movements
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Tremors
  • ‘Fitting’ or convulsions

Remember: If you suspect your cat has eaten slug pellets, take them to the vet’s immediately– do NOT wait for these symptoms to appear as the sooner the vet can see the animal the better.

What your vet will do:

There is no antidote to metaldehydes, but your vet will do their very best to get the metaldehyde out of your cat’s system. They will have to give many different drugs and will usually admit the animal to be put onto fluids. Providing it is caught quickly enough, it would be unusual for an otherwise healthy cat to die from metaldehyde poisoning.

Antifreeze Poisoning- What to Do

This is not a subsitute for proper veterinary care. If you suspect your cat has antifreeze poisoning, please don’t sit around googling and reading this- go to your vets NOW, as this is very commonly fatal. 90% of cats die after drinking antifreeze.

Antifreeze is the most common poison during the winter months, and can kill dogs, cats, and even humans, as well as a multitude of other creatures. A lot of people assume that these poisonings are purposeful, but that is not always the case- antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste, which attracts cats more than normal water. Some people use it to stop their water features freezing over, or it might spill whilst they’re filling the windscreen washer in their car- there are many places an inquisitive and thirsty pet can find antifreeze!

To make things worse, a 4kg cat only needs to drink about 5ml of antifreeze for it to be toxic- that’s about a teaspoonful! They can get this simply by licking their paws after walking through it, so it’s very hard to say how a cat got poisoned!

The Science

Antifreeze is usually made of a substance called Ethylene Glycol, which in itself isn’t actually all that poisonous- it’s actually a type of alcohol! Unfortunately, your body tries to metabolise it- like it does with anything else- using an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase. The product that is formed when it does this is extremely poisonous and causes fatal kidney damage.

 

The Signs to Watch Out For

The first signs, which occur 30mins to 3 hours after drinking antifreeze, are caused by the Ethylene Glycol itself. These are signs that you would associate with being drunk, for instance:

  • Vomiting
  • Seeming depressed/sleepy
  • Appearing uncoordinated
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination

These will steadily get worse, although a brief recovery has been reported in some dogs. Signs of damage to the nervous system usually occur next, such as:

  • Stumbling
  • Weakness
  • Slow responses
  • Stopping drinking and urination

Then, as the body starts to metabolise the drug, the signs turn more serious. 12 to 24 hours after drinking, the cat may show:

  • Oral ulcers
  • Salivation
  • Seizures
  • Coma

First Aid:

There is no question about what to do in any poisoning case- take your pet straight to the vet, every minute can count. Call them as you leave the house, explaining the emergency- this will give them a chance to get things ready. They may also give you first aid advice over the phone.

On your way out the door, grab a bottle of vodka or gin if you have it to hand- no, it’s not for you! The vet may be able to use it to help your cat, and having an extra bottle to hand can help.

What Your Vet Will Do:

What your vet does depends on the stage your pet is at. If you’ve only just caught them drinking it, they may encourage the cat to vomit or provide something to try to bind the antifreeze and stop it being absorbed.

If your cat is showing signs of having drunk antifreeze a little while ago, the vet will try other things, which may include getting your cat drunk- and this is where that bottle of Vodka comes in! Ethanol is metabolised by the same enzymes in the liver as Ethylene Glycol, but it takes priority so it out-competes the Ethylene Glycol for the receptors. If the vet can keep your cat drunk on a drip for long enough, the Ethylene Glycol will be lost from the body before it can be metabolised into dangerous chemicals. The vet may also place your cat on a fluid drip to protect your cat’s kidneys by keeping them well hydrated.