Cats are much more sensitive compared to dogs, especially when it comes to sickness. But their sense of smell typically allows them to detect substances that they should never ingest. Unfortunately, most of the rodenticides currently available can be made with inodorous ingredients, which means that even cats can suffer from rat poisoning.
In today’s article, we are looking at how you can tell your cat accidentally ingested rat poison, what you should do about it, how this health complication is diagnosed, and more.
A note on rat poison
When the topic of rodenticides arises for any homeowner, they’ll almost think of the varieties that contain anticoagulants. But the truth is that other types exist, too, and they consist of calcium bombs and neurotoxins, along with phosphides.
While a vet can at least initiate a type of therapy where the cat is treated symptomatically for all of these kinds of rat poisons, it definitely pays off for them to know the exact brand you have used to get rid of rats in your house.
Some common names for rodenticides that contain massive doses of vitamin D, for example, are Hiperkil and Rampage.
Those containing neurotoxins, also known as Bromethalin, are often marketed as Trounce or Assault. The anticoagulant ones are the most common ones of all, and their commercial names can range from Warf and Prolin to D-Con.
Phosphides are very common, but they are mostly utilized for killing larger rodents such as gophers or moles. It is among the riskiest rodenticides available today as it can produce problems even in people.
Knowing the exact brand that you have used can be very helpful in the sense that the vet can simply look up the active substance and choose the treatment accordingly.
Symptoms of rat poisoning in cats
The majority of the rodenticides we have previously mentioned do share some clinical signs, but others can be quite specific depending on what they are made with.
For example, here are a few examples of what your cat might experience if they were poisoned with an anticoagulant product:
- Vomiting blood
- Pale gums
- Labored breathing
- Bloody nose
- Hematomas all across their body
Vitamin D3 rodenticides can cause different symptoms by comparison:
- Extreme halitosis (bad breath)
- Changes in the urination/water drinking frequency (due to kidney failure)
Bromethalin products cause more severe clinical signs because they lead to brain swelling. This is one of those rat poisons that doesn’t even have an antidote, so the cat could end up losing their life if they have a massive dose.
Here are a few symptoms in this case:
- Walking as if drunk
- Anxiety or weakness
When it comes to phosphides, the clinical picture that the cat will exhibit can be very uncomfortable to watch:
Do consider that a cat can suffer from rat poison toxicity even if they did not directly eat the substance itself – they might have caught a mouse or another rodent and have eaten that, so they could get it into their system indirectly.
Diagnosis and treatment of rat poisoning in cats
If you do not know just what type of rodenticide your cat had, so you can’t communicate the brand or the estimated amount that your pet ingested to the veterinarian, they will attempt a symptomatic anti-toxic treatment.
Of course, they will have to collect some blood samples for the lab so that they can determine the exact substance that has led to the clinical picture.
Depending on the rat poison that your cat came in contact with, the vet might use a variety of medications and techniques to try and stabilize them. These could range from blood transfusions to using activated charcoal so as to prevent the substance from being absorbed into the blood flow, or, depending on how labored your cat’s breathing is, they might involve artificial respiration, too.
Another goal would have to be administering as many fluids as possible (at a safe rate, of course) so that your cat’s body manages to naturally flush out the toxins. Naturally, this all depends on the exact type of rodenticide since some can cause kidney failure.
If the cat has had phosphides, the vet will try to use treatments such as fluid flushing through an IV, they may have to pump your cat’s stomach or they may give them antacids.
Preventing rat poisoning in cats
It can take a while for your cat to recover from a case of rodenticide toxicity, and if you do not want to give both yourself and your feline friend a lot of hardship, you should do your best to keep your rat poison away from your pet.
Make sure that the rats that you do kill using various products never manage to cross paths with your cat so that the risk of them feeling playful and taking a bite out of the rodent is minimal.
Try to avoid using rat poison indoors if you keep your cat inside the house at all times.