Lead Poisoning in Cats

PetMD Editorial
Written by:
PetMD Editorial
Published: March 14, 2011

Plumbism

Heavy metal poisoning in cats is quite rare; however, among types of heavy metal poisoning, toxicity due to lead is more frequent than any other kind. Usually, these are cases where a cat has consumed small amounts of lead over a long period of time. When poisoned, a cat may display various symptoms, collectively classified under the condition called plumbism.

Symptoms

A cat suffering from acute lead poisoning (or poisoning due to consuming large amounts of lead) will generally have abdominal pain and vomit. Lead poisoning can also affect a cat's nervous system, manifesting itself in various ways, including:

  • Convulsions
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Episodes of hysteria and hyperexcitability
  • General weakness, listlessness, and even blindness
  • Encephalitis (swelling of the brain tissue)

Cause

There are many lead-containing objects that can be found in your house or on the street which a cat may consume; among them:

  • Paint
  • Linoleum
  • Batteries
  • Insecticides
  • Fishing weights
  • Plumbing materials (e.g., lead pipes, sealants, etc.)

Diagnosis

To properly diagnose your cat, the veterinarian will need to conduct a thorough medical history of the animal. This will, hopefully, lead them to the source of the poison. The veterinarian will also examine the cat's blood to confirm lead as the type of heavy metal poison.

 

Treatment

If you suspect your cat has consumed lead, the first thing to do is to induce vomiting in the animal. Afterwards, take it to your veterinarian, where they will then prescribe specific antidotes for the lead poisoning.

Living and Management

Follow the advice given by your veterinarian regarding the cat's diet; it is important for the cat's recovery.

Prevention

Make sure that any possible source of lead is safely packed and kept out of your cat's reach. Also, do not allow your cat to enter a room that has been painted with a lead-based paint.


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