Because cats are natural explorers, they often unknowingly find themselves in the presence of substances that can be quite harmful to them. For this reason, a common problem with cats and other pets is accidental poisoning and the ingestion of toxic substances.
When a cat has been poisoned, the extent of the injury will be directly related to what was ingested, how much was consumed and how long it was after ingestion before treatment was initiated. Generally, the more quickly treatment is received, the lesser the impact of the event. This isnt an absolute rule, however in some cases, the speed of treatment cant affect the outcome of the poisoning.
If your cat ingests a toxic or poisonous substance, get proper care for her right away even if she doesnt appear to be sick. Some poisonous substances have delayed effects. Again, the more quickly you get treatment for your pet, the less likely it is that permanent harm will come to her.
Signs of poisoning vary depending on the substance, but there are some common symptoms that can alert you that something serious is happening. These include a lack of appetite, vomiting, lethargy, difficulty breathing, a sudden lack of coordination, stumbling or a seizure.
When you visit the veterinarian after a suspected poisoning, bring samples of recent urination and bowel movements, along with the vomitus, if your cat threw up. These can be analyzed to determine the type of poison that was ingested and, unless you saw what your pet ingested, may provide the only clues to proper diagnosis. There are diagnostic tests for some types of poisoning antifreeze ingestion, for example but not for many others.
In these other cases, a physical examination can provide clues as to the type of poisoning, while other routine tests of the blood and urine can provide important clues. When theres a strong suspicion that a particular poison was involved, the veterinarian may elect to administer the antidote before confirming what was ingested. This will not only be therapeutic, but diagnostic as well.
When you suspect poisoning, theres some care you can provide for your pet at home, but its minimal. For example, if your cat was exposed to something on her skin, you can wash her with mild soap and warm water to prevent any further toxins from being absorbed. However, you should never attempt to induce vomiting unless youre specifically instructed to do so by a trained veterinary provider. Your veterinary provider may also recommend that you give your pet activated charcoal to absorb toxins again, wait for direct instructions before you do this.
However, the best way to protect your pet is to eliminate potential hazards in the first place. This means taking a good look at the plants inside and outside of your house, along with the different chemical in your house from cleaners to medications to anything else your cat can access. Taking the same care in pet-proofing your home that you would when child-proofing your home will ensure that none of the dreadful situations above come to pass.