Drugs Are NOT Cat Treats

Cats can mistake pills for pet treats, so know what to do.

A few days ago, my fiancé set out some meds for his elderly, ailing dog … and then left them in his office. A few minutes later, while he was upstairs with the dog, I shut Binga in his office with her meal – she eats more slowly than the other two cats and I didn’t want them to steal her food. But Binga, being Binga, wasn’t satisfied with mere cat food. She found the meds and, thinking they were treats, ate them. She wolfed down a half of a 75 mg tab of carprofen (the generic version of Rimadyl). There was also a half tab of Tramadol in a pill pocket, but again being Binga, she ate the pill pocket around the Tramadol and left the bitter pill. Eating pill pockets around meds is a trick she is particularly good at, and for once I was glad about that.

Did I mention that this happened at night, on a Saturday? So of course it involved a trip to the emergency pet clinic. I called first to make sure that Binga needed to be brought in, and she did. They made her throw up, gave her fluids, dosed her with charcoal, and charged me $225. While carprofen isn’t the worst thing she could have eaten, it can do damage to a cat’s kidneys, and at 14 (Binga’s current age), you do not want to do anything to hurt feline kidney function.

While some cats may have been traumatized by the whole incident, Binga was none the worse for it. I picked her up and dumped her in the carrier for her trip to the emergency clinic so quickly that she didn’t even have time to think about what was happening. And since I called and took her over there just minutes after her unfortunate theft, she wasn’t even showing any symptoms of having taken anything. The tech at the clinic said she was very well behaved and took her syringe of charcoal like a champ – probably the result of having to take syringes of lactulose for constipation twice a day for so many months prior. When I brought her home, she was already asking for dinner, since her stomach had been emptied at the clinic. She was quite put out that she couldn’t have any, on the veterinarian’s recommendations. The next day she was back to her normal, crazy, frequently fractious tortie self.

What did I learn from this, other than to make sure Binga is never left alone with any meds? That it’s good to be prepared – the cat carrier and the phone number of the emergency clinic were both easily locatable. That any past experience, such as Binga’s with the lactulose and syringes, may serve her well in the future. And that not panicking and doing what must be done without hesitation works best with cats. I gave her no frantic energy to work off of, so it kept her acting out to a minimum.

It’s back to life as usual here.

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