Whether a cat accidentally chews into a pill bottle or a well-intentioned pet owner accidently switches medications (giving their pet a human medication), pet poisonings due to human medications are common and can be very serious. Pets metabolise medications very differently from people. Even seemingly benign over-the-counter or herbal medications may cause serious poisoning in pets.
Never give your a cat human medication. Even in tiny doses it can be extremely harmful.
Human medicines that are potentially poisonous to cats include:
Pet medication is designed to taste delicious so that animals will eat it. Even the fussiest cat might be tempted. The physical damage of accidental ingestion of medication can be very serious – particularly if the dose is for an animal three or four times bigger in size.
While flea and tick treatments work well for dogs, the Pyrethrin in dog powder can be highly toxic and potentially fatal for cats. Poisoning can arise when cats are accidentally treated with such dog flea products or if they groom themselves or other animals treated with the product.
Cats may salivate a great deal, be thirsty and have a high temperature and tremors or convulsions – urgent veterinary advice is essential.
Always read treatment labels carefully, as those that contain Pyrethrins or Pyrethroids (a derivative of the Chrysanthemum flower), should be avoided at all costs.
The clinical signs are very variable and will depending on the particular poison concerned.
Some of the most common signs include:
Some poisons act on more than one body system, and so can produce any combination of the above signs.
Paracetamol is often given to cats in a caring but misguided attempt to relieve pain. It is highly dangerous to cats and just one tablet is enough to cause severe illness or death.
Signs of paracetamol poisoning include:
An effective antidote is available but must be used very soon after the cat has taken the tablet.
In the USA, the most common medication reported to the *Pet Poison Helpline is antidepressant medication. When ingested, they can cause animals to become:
Even one or two pills can cause serious harm to a pet. Cats may develop:
The sooner veterinary treatment is received, the better your cat’s chances of survival.
Always keep medications safely out of reach and never administer a medication to a pet without first consulting your veterinarian.
Never leave loose pills in a plastic ziplock bag – the bags are too easy to chew into. Make sure visiting house guests do the same, keeping their medications in a drawer or cupboard out of reach.