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Keeping Cats Safe

International Cat Care is teaming up with the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) and Agria Pet Insurance to launch a Keeping Cats Safe campaign.

Being poisoned is one of the most distressing, yet preventable, accidents which can happen to cats. Working with VPIS and Agria, both of whom hear in detail about incidents of poisonings, ICC will look at the most common poisons, including lilies, permethrin (found in dog flea products), disinfectants, ethylene glycol (antifreeze) and paracetamol. Other, less common toxins will also be covered, such as white spirit/turpentine substitute poisonings (which peak over Bank Holidays when people decorate their houses), or benzalkonium chloride poisoning which can be more of a danger when people clean their patios in the spring.  The campaign will run throughout 2015 and into 2016, covering all aspects of cat safety. A range of dangers will be highlighted, including poisons, cats eating strange things and accidental injuries, as well as looking at which diseases can be prevented by vaccination and parasite control. Microchipping and the safe use of collars will also be featured, as these can reduce the risk of cats with outdoor access not being returned to their owners if they get lost or injured.

ICC will also look at the most common accidental injuries (eg, from collars, falls, road traffic accidents) and ingested foreign bodies (eg, needles, rubber bands, wool), using data from Agria Pet Insurance and other sources. 

There will be advice for owners on each topic, covering where the risks are, what the signs of poisoning/injury are, what to do, and how the risks can be minimised.

For veterinary professionals, there will be in depth advice on clinical signs, treatment and prognosis. 

The campaign kicks off by highlighting the dangers of disinfectants, with recommendations for owners on their safe use. For vets and nurses there is an introduction to toxicology, and detailed advice on presentation and treatment of benzalkonium chloride exposure in cats.

With the summer here, now is the perfect time to get outdoors! Many of us spend this time of year enjoying and maintaining our gardens, which may include putting down weedkillers to keep our lawns in tip-top condition. However, what you might not know is that these products and the herbicidal compounds that they contain, can be harmful, even fatal, to cats.  

As part of the charity International Cat Care’s Keeping Cats Safe campaign, the danger to cats from weedkiller products is being highlighted in the month of August.  

Cats can become exposed to weedkillers during or soon after their use by walking on or brushing against treated grass and plants, and then grooming, walking in or licking up spills or drips, chewing treated plants or (rarely) via 'spray drift'. 

Although there are a wide range of garden weedkillers on the market, they only contain a few different herbicidal compounds. These are: glyphosphate, chlorophenoxy derivatives, ferrous sulphate and fatty acids. Exposure to these chemicals can lead to a wide range of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, anorexia, eye and skin irritation and a high temperature. In extreme cases poisoning from weedkillers can be fatal; for example glyphosphate exposure can lead to extreme respiratory problems which can result in death. 

If you think your cat has been exposed to a weedkiller and it is showing any of the symptoms of poisoning, you should seek veterinary advice immediately. It is important to find out which particular product a cat may have been exposed to, noting the name and/or ingredients, so that if the cat requires treatment the vet can decide which is the best approach. 

International Cat Care’s advice is to always read the packaging on herbicidal products and use them according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It may be difficult to prevent access to these products in free roaming cats, so if you are concerned that your cat may come into contact with any weedkiller you apply, it may be best to avoid their use and stick to manual removal of weeds.  

More information on herbicides can be found on a pesticides database which is freely available on the internet. For this database and more information on the risks of herbicides see: http://icatcare.org/advice/keeping-cats-safe-campaign/weedkillers  

Full details about the Keeping Cats Safe campaign can also be found  by accessing the page from the link on the left.