What is Poisoning Due to Ingesting Rat Poison?
Directly ingesting rat poison is not the only way cats can be affected. Cats that hunt in and around the home can be poisoned by eating rodents that have ingested rat poison. Thus, it is important to refrain from using rat poison in or around any site that is home to children and pets, even in areas that are not considered accessible.
Numerous types of rat poison and rodenticides exist, and all use active ingredients that can be extremely harmful to cats. Some poisons prevent blood clotting, while others cause damage and failure in specific organs or systems, such as the brain or kidneys.
Symptoms of Poisoning Due to Ingesting Rat Poison in Cats
Symptoms of poisoning may vary with the type of poison ingested by a cat Signs may demonstrate neurological, kidney, or stomach distress, or a deficiency in blood clotting.
- Excessive bleeding from wounds
- Blood in urine or feces
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive thirst or drinking
- Lack of appetite
- Abdominal bloating
- Violent behavior
- Unsteady gait
- Poor balance and coordination
- Kidney failure
Causes of Poisoning Due to Ingesting Rat Poison in Cats
Rodenticide poisoning is generally the result of ingestion. A cat may eat rat poison (direct ingestion), or consume a rodent that has ingested the poison (secondary poisoning).
Cats may eat poison out of hunger or curiosity, or unwittingly if it becomes mixed with its food. Cats who hunt rodents may catch and eat an animal that has ingested poison placed nearby.
Diagnosis of Poisoning Due to Ingesting Rat Poison in Cats
If it's possible your cat may have been poisoned, collect vomit and fecal samples if possible and bring them with you to the vet as soon as possible. If the cat begins exhibiting signs of toxicity at night or on a weekend, find out if your regular veterinary clinic has emergency hours or take the cat to an emergency clinic. Waiting too long to seek care can put your cat’s life at risk.
Your veterinarian will run tests on the vomit and fecal samples you collect and may conduct blood and urine tests. These tests can rule out other conditions and illnesses to help determine if your cat has been poisoned and with what, as well as the nature and extent of damage it has caused.
Treatment of Poisoning Due to Ingesting Rat Poison in Cats
Depending on the nature and severity of poisoning, a veterinarian may induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal to remove toxins from the cat’s body. Artificial respiration, blood transfusions, or vitamin K1 supplementation may be administered, and accumulated fluid and blood drained. The veterinarian may also administer fluids and medications that will promote hydration and urination and help flush toxins from the system. The cat may be boarded in a quiet, dark area to reduce potential seizure triggers, to promote rest, and to prevent injury while vulnerable to bleeding.
Recovery of Poisoning Due to Ingesting Rat Poison in Cats
Your cat's prognosis mainly depends on how quickly it has been been diagnosed and treated post-poisoning. If your cat has had the poison removed from its system quickly, there is a good chance of a full recovery. However, if the poison is in the cat’s system for an extended period of time, permanent damage to respiratory system, GI tract, liver, and kidneys and nervous system can occur.
Once your cat has been treated and sent home you will need to return to the veterinarian a few more times for follow-up testing to monitor recovery and measure lasting damage..
To prevent the ingestion of rat poison in the future, safely dispose of poisons in and around the home and secure your cat’s food supply to prevent tampering.