Common Cat Poisons

Cats are different. Most people know this. You’re either a cat person or a dog person. As the old saying goes, dogs are companions, cats have staff.

While this is true, they are also very different in many other ways.

They handle drugs differently. They like to climb, so they get to lots of places where dogs can’t and putting something where a cat can’t get to it is not an easy task.

They like to hide, and they groom constantly. This means most things that get on their skin, will also end up inside them.

So what are the common things in cats to worry about? Many on this list are actually things you might not expect.

The most common one seen in one review is insecticides used for flea and tick control.

People tend to ignore the warning to use only in dogs, but it’s also common for a cat to curl up with a dog that has been recently treated with a topical drug and simply absorb it themselves.

They’ll also sometimes groom the dog and ingest it that way. Shaking and even seizure may result.

Other topical insecticides used on cats can cause problems too. Some are available that can be used here, but be careful. What you put on the cat will likely be licked off.

You can use this behavior to your advantage. A pill, finely ground up with some butter and smeared on a paw will likely be groomed off. Lots easier than fighting to give the pill to the cat orally.

Remember too that cats are extremely sensitive to certain tastes and acidities. Something that works fine in a dog may cause a severe frothing of the mouth.

Drugs that work in dogs and humans won’t necessarily work well in cats. A bit of sardine juice may stop them from frothing and spraying saliva everywhere.

Glow sticks and glow jewelry are common if you have kids. Actually some adults seem to like glow sticks too, and these can cause problems if the cat bites into them to get to the liquid inside.

Some of these glowing ‘wiggly’ worms are also dangerous. Cats think they’re neat to chew and swallow, but they turn into the consistency of cement when they hit the stomach acids. I actually had to call a store and ask that they stop selling these.

Lilies are known to cause kidney failure. Even the smallest amount needs to be aggressively treated and can be extremely dangerous. Yes, there are some lilies that aren’t poisonous, but unless you’re a botanist, don’t play with it.

It’s very common for people to use a potpourri mixture with candles or small heat source. These oils produce a very nice smell, but they can cause problems with cats. Dogs may sniff, but cats will often try to lick.

While some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be used in dogs, only one is used in cats. It’s prescription-only to vets and has a very narrow range of use.

Motrin, Aleve, and others can be extremely dangerous to cats. They can cause coma and death and should never be used.

Aspirin and Tylenol are dangerous as well. Human children under 15 years of age with a viral infection can develop very serious problems if given Aspirin, so MDs usually use Tylenol (acetaminophen) in children.

Some people think this means it’s very safe and might be tempted to give it to a cat. Please don’t.

Mice and rat poisons have to be on the list. They are often flavoured and cats seem to love them. Putting them high on a shelf means the cat can still probably get to them and they can be very dangerous.

Other problems can occur with legal and illegal drugs. Amphetamines, narcotics, alcohol, etc. are all on the list, although most prescriptive drugs are in pill form or a bottle that cats aren’t usually drawn to.

I had a cat that loved gin and anyone leaving a martini in the open was fair game. She’d drink away until she fell off the table. People thought that it was funny, but it was a real problem for the cat.

I also had a dog the kids were always feeding beer to until it got drunk. It was funny until the dog went into liver failure.

Perhaps the strangest poisoning case I’ve ever had I’ll call the Stanley cat. Every couple of weeks it would come in disoriented and stumbling around. We’d run every test we could think of and never found anything.

The owners were deeply concerned, since this had been a pattern for almost a year. We couldn’t find anything wrong with the cat and nothing we did seemed to make a difference.

This was a very profitable cat, but a very frustrating one for the owner and the clinic.

Finally the teenage son and a friend brought the cat in, and when I asked if he could have gotten into anything, the answer was “maybe some herbs…”

I had to suggest that they do a better job of hiding the herbs or I’d have to have a chat with the parents. We never saw the cat again.

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