Bathing Emergencies

I have had an influx of enquiries of cats that have fallen into toxic and household chemicals

But what should I do if my cat, or a cat client has an accident like this?

First thing- Always call a Vet and confirm what your cat has fallen into, and whether it is required to come straight to the Vet, or if you can remove at home.  Never induce vomiting unless under Veterinary guidance.  Some chemicals can do as much damage coming up the oesophageal tract, as going down.

Remember that a poison can be taken into the system not only by cleaning with the tongue and ingesting, but also through the skin itself and the lungs (more information in First Aid for the Cat Groomer).

Signs of poisoning requiring emergency treatment:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing (i.e., choking, coughing, gagging)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blue-purple coloured skin/gums
  • Excessive salivation
  • Pawing at the muzzle
  • Champing the jaws
  • Head-shaking
  • Instability/trouble walking
  • Tremors and convulsions (rare)
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Loss of consciousness/comatose
  • Loss of all body functions 

Depending on the toxin, the Vet may recommend removal by washing your cat in a dishwashing detergent or using an adhesive remover.

An example of washing a cat to remove motor oil:

The Cat was checked by the vet for signs of poisoning.  The owner opted to bathe the cat at home.

Bathing includes use of a washing detergent without citrus oils.  Always check ingredients before using anything on a cat.

Start by washing the cat with as much detergent and as little water as possible, adding more water each time.

 It can take 5-10 washes and rinses to remove the oil enough that it can no longer be ingested.

Always have a follow up Vet check the next day, or as soon as the cat starts showing any of the above signs of poisoning. 

Removal does not guarantee the cat has been poisoned, it just may reduce the likelihood of poisoning.

For more information on poisons and first aid treatments, see First Aid for the Cat Groomer.

A cat being bathed after a motor oil accident

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