Rodenticide poisoning

Some rat poisons are toxic to cat because they contain an anticoagulant that causes internal bleeding. Toxicity occurs a lot more frequently when the cat consumes the bait rather than a contaminated prey. Barn cats ingesting large numbers of prey are at risk. Clinical signs generally occur 2-5 days after ingestion and are characterized by generalized hemorrhages, nose bleed, pale mucous membranes, external hematomas, anorexia, weakness, bloody stools and difficulty breathing. Internal hemorrhages can lead to sudden death.

In-clinic testing can reveal prolonged coagulation time. Blood samples can also identify which type of poison has been ingested but results are usually not received in time to make a difference in treatment.

When the cat is presented within a few hours after ingestion but before the first clinical signs, it is possible to induce vomiting and give activated charcoal to prevent intestinal absorption. The specific antidote is vitamin K1. The duration of treatment is poison specific so if possible the poison package should be brought in for reference.

If the cat is already having clinical signs, do not induce vomiting as this could enhance bleeding in the digestive tract. Depending on where the bleeding occurs, many treatments are possible such as oxygen administration, intra venous fluids and blood transfusions. Vitamin K1 is always prescribed.

Prognosis is excellent when the cat is treated before onset of clinical signs. After signs, prognosis is guarded to good.