Toxin Exposure in a Cat.
A two year old cat arrived at the clinic with whole body tremors, an abnormally low heart rate and very reactive to touch and noises around her. Her owners found her like this when they came home from work. After an examination it was obvious that her nervous system was being affected by a toxin …but what kind? As a cat that spends time outdoors off leash there is a list of things she could have gotten into that we would never know about, all of which can cause similar symptoms but can require different treatments.
The owner reported that they had one dose of a topical cat flea product from the store and split it amongst their three cats, including the kitten of the cat that was showing symptoms of toxicity. This was done the evening prior and all cats were kept inside all night and day. The cat was fine at night and in the morning, but was not doing well when they came home. Symptoms of toxicity from a topical product can develop immediately or even two to three days after the product is applied. Even more dangerous is if a topical product is ingested such as when an animal grooms itself or another animal to which the product is applied. In this case, the mother may have groomed her kitten after the product was applied.
Treatment included an injectable medication to stop the tremors, a dose of activated charcoal to reduce any further absorption of the toxin in case it was ingested, and additional anti-tremor medication to repeat orally every 8 to 12 hours until there were no signs of tremors. The owners were also asked to wash each of the cats with Dawn dish soap to remove the residual medication.
Unless the pet is actually seen ingesting something unusual or you have just started giving a medication it can take a lot of detective work to determine what is causing symptoms of being sick (since they cannot talk to us). If you do see your pet ingesting something you think may be harmful, or if a new medication was given or applied and they become sick, please call or bring a sample or the packaging to the veterinary office if possible, as it can be very helpful in guiding treatment for your pet.