A common toxicity that we see as veterinarians is a cat that has gotten into or was given dangerous medications. While many human drugs can be safely administered to cats, overdoses can be dangerous or deadly.
So which drugs are the common ones that cats get into?
Here are our top five dangerous medications to cats:
Cats are unable to metabolize aspirin quickly making them very susceptible to toxicity. Aspirin toxicity may cause respiratory difficulties, neurological problems, bleeding disorders, and kidney failure. Central nervous system depression is most common in cats.
Ibuprofen (or many similar drugs such as Aleve)
For cats, ibuprofen can easily exceed toxic levels. Ibuprofen is a popular and effective over-the-counter medication available to treat pain and inflammation in people. For cats, ibuprofen can easily exceed toxic levels. The most common cause of ibuprofen toxicity is a well-meaning owner trying to alleviate pain in his cat who administers a dose he thinks is adequate without knowing the toxic dose.
Cats are very sensitive to the effects of ibuprofen and one tablet can cause rapid kidney failure and subsequent death.
Amphetamines are nervous system stimulants, and when ingested your pet may show signs of restlessness, hyperactivity, agitation, seizures, or even death within a brief 1-2 hours. You may not even realize what has happened during this
Tylenol and/or Tylenol-containing drugs
Acetaminophen is a commonly used medication for fever and pain in pregnant women and even young children. While this makes it sound like a fairly benign drug, this couldn't be farther from the truth. Unfortunately, many well-intentioned owners mistakenly assume it's safe for cats as well. While acetaminophen is toxic to both dogs and cats, cats are much more sensitive to it. Just one 250 mg tablet can kill a cat. Stay far away from this one!
Another pet's medication
Cats should NEVER be given dog medications. Cats can vary in weight and even a medication prescribed for one cat may not be dose-appropriate for another cat. If you are planning to give a dog medication to your cat or give another cat's medication to a different cat - talk to your veterinarian first. Make sure there is not a contraindication to using the medication and that the dose is appropriate for the condition being treated.
If your cat is given any medication without your vets recommendation and approval, please double check with your vet. Taking action sooner rather than later is always key. Please never assume that because a medicine is safe for one of your pets that it is safe for another.
If your cat does eat a pill that he or she is not the intended recipient of, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic immediately.