It’s a frightening experience when you discover your cat may have ingested a poisonous substance. The list of substances that can poison a cat is quite long including antifreeze, household chemicals, petroleum products, human medications, certain plants, rat poisons, and more. Animals, by nature, are quite inquisitive and can get into a toxic substance before you know it. If you believe your cat is a victim of poisoning, what should you do?
If you know what substance your cat has ingested, you’re one step ahead of the game. You’ll want to have the substance or plant in hand and quickly call your veterinarian or animal poison control center. This number should be conveniently posted on your refrigerator or bulletin board for quick reference in case of an emergency. You should also be well versed in performing CPR in the event of a cat poisoning or other life threatening event.
The poison control center should be able to tell you based on the substance ingested whether or not it’s safe to induce vomiting to eliminate the poison. Vomiting can be induced by giving your cat a tablespoon of either syrup of ipecac or hydrogen peroxide. Vomiting should never be induced if your cat is unconscious, not breathing, or manifests an irregular heart rate. To do so, may cause your cat to aspirate the ipecac into his lungs which can result in pneumonia or other respiratory problems. If your cat is not breathing and you can’t detect a pulse rate, you need to start CPR immediately.
Your cat should be transported immediately to a veterinary emergency center as soon as he is stable. Bring along a sample of his vomit if vomiting was induced to allow identification of the poison.
If your cat has ingested a known petroleum product or corrosives such as acid or alkali that are found in certain cleaning products, you should avoid inducing vomiting. Instead, clean out your cat’s mouth with water and give an ounce of water per six pounds of body weight followed by a one time dose of two teaspoons of vegetable oil. This helps to coat the stomach to prevent absorption. Be prepared to perform CPR for a cat poisoning if necessary. Seek medical attention immediately.
The best way to avoid potential cat poisoning is to make sure toxic substances are tightly sealed and kept out of reach of your cat. This includes any prescription and nonprescription medications you and your family use. Be aware of which plants are poisonous to cats and make an effort to eradicate these from your house and yard. Even common foods such as onions can have adverse effects on your cat and should be kept out of reach. It’s also important to have a cat first aid kit handy with supplies as well as important contact information for your animal emergency center and poison control center. By taking precautions and being prepared in the event of an emergency, you can give your cat the emergency first aid that could save his life in the event of a poisoning.