It is sometimes said that because cats are fussy eaters they are less easily poisoned than dogs. However, because of their curious nature and the fact that they will groom any substance off their coats and ingest it, intoxication is not that uncommon.
Other factors predispose cats to becoming ill once they have been exposed to a poisonous substance; these include their small body size, their ability to hide so that exposure is not immediately evident, and because cats, being specialist carnivores, lack certain liver enzymes, they are unable to breakdown certain chemicals. It is because of this that when cats become poisoned they are perhaps less likely to recover than dogs.
How can a cat become poisoned?Cats can be poisoned in a number of ways:
It is important to remember that while most cases of intoxication will cause acute problems, chronic intoxication can also arise, and often proves even more difficult to recognise and treat.
What should I do if I think my cat has been poisoned?
The cat's collar should be removed as it may also have been contaminated. Also, some flea collars contain chemicals which may be harmful to sick cats. To remove chemicals from the coat it is best to clip off contaminated hair and then wash the cat in warm soapy water. It is important to remove as much of the contamination as possible before washing because the process of washing can increase the absorption of some chemicals. The cat must then be dried fully to prevent it from chilling. Oily material can be removed by rubbing it with clean, warm cooking oil, then wiping it off thoroughly, (ie, remove oil with oil).
If you feel the cat may have ingested any toxin it should be taken to the vet. Even if the contamination is confined to the coat, it is important that the cat should be encouraged to drink as this will help to wash out any absorbed toxins.
After any exposure to possible poisons it is advisable to keep the cat under observation in a warm, quiet room for 24 hours.
Common poisonsIn many cases of poisoning in cats, the poison in unknown. However, there are many substances within the home which are potentially poisonous to cats.
Never give cats products intended for people (unless instructed otherwise by your vet)
To avoid accidental poisonings: