Cat Toxin Ingestion..
I have covered quite a few topics in relation to dogs eating toxic substances and within these posts have commented that, in general, cats do not eat things they should not. Being fastidious cleaners though, often ingest toxic substances when grooming themselves…..even if the substance is foul tasting.
Common intoxications due to grooming:
Ethylene Glycol (anti-freeze).
Nail varnish Remover/Hair Dye/Liquid Beauty Products.
White Spirit/Paint Remover.
The list is not exhaustive…Basically anything that you may spill on the floor could be walked over by a cat and then licked off of their paws. Cats love getting underneath cars and can become covered in anything that is leaking or has leaked from it. Cats may jump and fall into substances if they think a container has a cover on it (we have all seen the YouTube videos of cats aiming and failing). It is impossible to list all the possible ways cats can come into contact with a toxic substance, they are nosy and get themselves into all sorts of trouble.
Usually it is obvious that your cat has come into contact with a substance as you can see it on the fur. If this is the case you need to do the following:
• Prevent the cat from grooming. If you have a buster collar put it on the cat, wrap the cat in a towel or put a t-shirt on him or her. Take care you do not get bitten or scratched.
• Phone your vet for advice.
• Be careful you do not get any of the substance on your skin especially if you do not know what it is.
If you know your cat is covered in oil:
• Phone your vet for advice.
• Your vet may suggest bathing your cat….usually not an easy thing to do.
• If you have an amenable cat and the correct products then you may be advised to do bathe prior to visiting the vet.
• You need to break the oil down using a specific heavy duty cleaner….Your vet can advise you which product to use and how to apply.
• Take care not to get anything into your cats’ eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Usually the cats face is not affected when covered in oil. If it is it is probably better for your vet to treat this area.
• Rinse off the heavy-duty cleaner using warm (not hot or cold) water.
• Work a mild detergent into the cats’ fur, lather up really well and rinse off with warm (not hot or cold) water. The same principal applies for the head area as with the heavy-duty cleaner.
• You may need to repeat this procedure several times before all of the oil is removed or your vet may continue once the initial bathing has taken place.
• It is important for your cat not to get cold so towel dry and keep indoors.
• It is very important to take your cat to the vet as there may have been some ingestion prior to you becoming aware of the problem.
Some substances are caustic (can burn or corrode tissue, known as a thermal burn), when the cat grooms it will burn its tongue and possibly the oesophagus (the tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach). There is also the risk of internal organ damage once the substance enters the blood stream.
Signs your cat may have licked a caustic agent and caused a thermal burn to its tongue and oesophagus:
• Tongue sticking out.
• Reluctant to eat, drink or groom.
• Pawing at the mouth.
This is a very painful condition and your cat must be taken to the vet. You may be asked if you have used any strong detergents to clean the floor or if you have spilt anything that your cat may have walked through.
In order to prevent any of this occurring there are steps you can take:
• Securely store any oil/petrol/agents in lidded containers.
• Check your car for leaks, especially anti-freeze as this is fatal for cats.
• Clean up any spillages of detergents/caustic liquids.
• Unblock drains where waste water from washing machines empty out.
• Use the correct dilutions for any products used.
Veterinary advice must be sought if you think your cat has come into contact with any toxic substance.