Monday, March 16, 2015

10 Poison Prevention Week Tips for your Cat

March 15-21 is National Poison Prevention Week. While cats are more likely to eat non-toxic items, such as ribbons and ear plugs (that are still a medical problem), there are still some cats that will eat other items that can be a problem due to a toxicity. To help prevent a poisoning incident, consider the following tips:

  • If your cat takes medication regularly, keep the bottles hidden in a cupboard rather than out
    Pills are fun to catch, "kill" and eat.
    where the medication is accessible. If you need to have the medication out where you can see it to help remind you to give it, use a small weekly pill container, so that only a few pills are out and accessible, and make sure that the weekly pill holder is in an area that the cat cannot access. Keep the rest of the prescription behind closed doors.
  • Be especially careful to keep chewable medications and vitamins out of reach (for humans or pets).
  • Store human medications in a separate location from human medications to avoid confusing who gets which pill. Human prescription medications are the number one reason people call the Animal Poison Control Center, and over the counter human medications are the third most common reason. We have had phone calls from clients who have accidentally taken their pets' medication and calls from people who have accidentally given their own medication to their cat! If you drop a human medication on the floor, make sure to pick it up, immediately. Better yet, take your human medications over a counter or plate so that the medication never falls on the floor. We have had a few patients who have swooped in and stolen a toxic pill from the floor as their owner was reaching down to pick it up.
  • Keep your purse, backpack or laptop bag out of reach of your cat. Many people carry
    Cats LOVE to get into bags, which can get them into trouble.
    medications, coins, batteries, various snacks, etc. in bags they carry around with them daily. If a pet can get into the bag, they have access to a wide array of things they should not eat! Additionally, we have had people who take their bags with them into homes with fleas bring fleas home to their own house and pets afterwards!
  • Don't leave people food out where cats  can eat it! Many human foods are safe, but a number of foods that we can eat can be toxic to your cat. Chocolate is a toxin many people know of,
    Cats sometimes have strange ideas about what foods they want to eat
    however foods from the onion family, such as garlic, leeks, and scallions are also a concern for cat. Just like people can have adverse effects from drinking too much alcohol, cats can also suffer from intoxication and even coma and death from an alcoholic overdose.
  • Keep flower arrangements and indoor plants out of reach of your cat. Some flowers are more toxic than others, and the beautiful members of the lily family are the most toxic of all. Even a small amount of pollen that a cat grooms off of its coat may be enough to cause kidney failure.
  • If your cat goes outside, be sure to check with your neighbors to see if they use rodenticides. Additionally, find out if they use any insecticide sprays on their lawn, and on what schedule, so that you can make sure to keep your cat confined after a treatment has been applied. Also make sure to keep dog and cat parasite preventives separate - a number of products that are safe for dogs are toxic to cats. Only 11% of the 180,000 calls per year to the ASPCA Poison Control Center involve insecticides (that's about 20,000 cases of insecticide poisoning), but more than half of those cases involve cats. Many fertilizers may contain blood or bone meal or poultry manure, which can all be a cause for concern for your pets, as well.
  • Keep your pet emergency phone numbers handy! Even better, take a minute right now and program the phone number of Exclusively Cats (248-666-5287), the ASPCA Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) and your favorite animal emergency hospital into your phone for easy access, if they are not there, already.
  • Download the ASPCA Animal Poison Control's free app.
Want to know if the rumor you heard about a poisonous substance for pets is true? Check out the Animal Poison Control Center's "Okay or No Way!" list.

Here is some further information about poison prevention in cats:
Summer safety tips
Gardening with Cats
Lily Toxicity
Christmas Safety Tips