Easter and the traditions surrounding it pose several dangers for your cat. Knowing that these dangers exist will give you the opportunity to avoid them and keep your pet healthy through the holiday and beyond.
Easter lilies and other types of lilies are one of the biggest threats for your cat. The true lilies are all toxic to your cat and ingestion can prove to be fatal. Both live plants and cut flowers pose a hazard and all parts of the plant are considered to be toxic. Even something as seemingly innocent as getting plant pollen on the fur by rubbing against the plant can be a problem for your cat if he grooms the fur and swallows the pollen. When ingested, these plants damage the kidneys and cause kidney failure.
Symptoms seen in cats that have been poisoned by lilies are a result of failure of the kidneys. These symptoms may include depression, lack of appetite, vomiting, increased water consumption, increased urine volume, diarrhea, coma, and death. Treatment is symptomatic using intravenous fluid therapy to diurese the kidneys and battle dehydration. Medications to treat vomiting and other symptoms may be necessary. Dialysis may be required as a last resort, but treatment is, unfortunately, not always successful.
Another Easter hazard for a curious cat is the artificial “grass” that is often used in Easter baskets and other Easter decorations. This “grass” is often tempting for a playful cat and it can become a linear foreign body if swallowed, necessitating surgery to remove the offending object from your cat’s intestinal tract. Left untreated, this type of intestinal foreign body can prove fatal to your cat.
Chocolate is another potential threat around Easter-time. Many of our favorite treats contain chocolate, and chocolate can be toxic if ingested by your cat. While cats are usually more discerning than dogs when it comes to eating sweets, there are cats that can and do eat them if given the chance. Chocolate poisoning will result in vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, irritability, rapid heart rate, tremors, and seizures. If ingested in large enough quantities, it can be a fatal toxicity. Treatment is symptomatic and consists of administering activated charcoal to bind the toxic substance in the stomach along with fluids and other medications as necessary to manage the symptoms.
Other food items fed from the table, such as bones, can be dangerous for your cat also and should be avoided.
If you suspect that your cat has ingested a toxin or if your cat is acting abnormally, contact your veterinarian for advice. If your veterinarian is not available, seek guidance from your local emergency veterinary hospital or contact the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center or the Pet Poison Helpline.
Avoiding an emergency trip to the veterinary hospital with your cat will make the Easter holiday more enjoyable for both you and your cat.
Dr. Lorie Huston