The curiosity and hunting behavior of cats are already familiar to pet owners. They keep on exploring the dark corners of homes and gardens in search of food. In fact, rearing cats is proceeded as a control measure for rodents in infested homes. Also, with an aim to get rid of rats, baits loaded with rodenticide are laid to lure them. Rats after ingesting poisoned baits stagger around for some time. When cats feed on them or the baits, mild to severe symptoms of rat poisoning in cats are exhibited.
Rat Poison and Cats
Since rats, mice and rodents are favorite treats for cats, rodenticide products formulated for killing these nasty pests may indirectly end up poisoning the pet cats. Over here, it is not the rats that poisoned the cats. But, it is more about cats preying on rats that have been poisoned (secondary poisoning). Such a case is referred to as rat poisoning in cats. Symptoms of rat poisoning may appear instantly, or many days after ingestion. The severity of this complication depends upon the type of poison, amount ingested and time of diagnosis. In serious cases of rat poisoning, many pets succumb to death before reaching the vet's clinic.
How to Identify Rat Poisoning Symptoms in Cats?
The manifested symptoms of rat poison ingestion and feeding on poisoned rats are the same. This is obvious, as the toxic substances make their way to the cat's body in both cases. However, the actual symptoms will vary, based on the active compounds present in the particular brand of rat poison. Say for instance, feeding on rats that had been poisoned with D3-cholecalciferol results in elevated calcium levels in the bloodstream. This rat poison side effect in turn causes damage to the heart and kidney. The probable signs and symptoms of cats poisoned with rodenticides include the following.
- High fever
- Loss of appetite (anorexia)
- Reduced intake of water
- Nerve problems
- Unsteady gait (ataxia)
- Constant muscle twitching
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Internal and external bleeding
- Loss of consciousness
- Organ failure
How to Treat Rat Poisoning in Cats?
As with any case of toxicity, ingestion of rat poison (directly or indirectly) by cats is a medical emergency. The prognosis of this condition depends entirely on how soon the poisoned cat is treated. And the earlier the treatment is proceeded with, the better will be the outcome. In case, poisoning in cats is caused due to contact poisons, feeding activated charcoal and milk of magnesia are effectual first aid steps. By any chance, if the pet exhibits signs of hemorrhage (bleeding from nose and mouth, bloody urine and stool), then it indicates a life-threatening condition.
The best approach is to induce the cat to throw up the stomach contents as much as possible, and visit the vet immediately. Feeding dilute hydrogen peroxide solution (strictly 3%, and about 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds body weight) is effectual for inducing vomiting (emesis) in pet cats. This helps in minimizing absorption of poison by the stomach and other body parts. Upon reaching the veterinary facility, the vet may conduct urinalysis, blood tests and imaging tests for ruling out other health problems.
Therapeutic intervention for cats poisoned with rodenticides may involve blood transfusion, delivering vitamin K1 intravenously, and advocating oral medications. The bottom line is, ingestion of a poisoned rat or rat poison by pet cats is not an unusual case. It is the responsibility of cat owners to exercise first aid tips for poisoning, and save their beloved pets from experiencing severe complications. Coming to the prevention part, keep the rodenticides and pesticides in a safe place. Also, do not allow cats to loiter in the garden, where they can find poisoned rodents.