Substances poisonous to cats

How many cats do you know that eat Raisin Bran or a fruit salad? Chances are that if they had a chance, most cats would try almost anything, even raisins or grapes. However, unbeknownst to many cat owners, an appetite for raisins or grapes, a common food that many people have in their homes, can be fatal to their pets.

Vickie’s cat, Jackie, is as fearless as she is curious when it comes to trying new foods. More often than not, the consequences of her curiosity are harmless and even a little humorous. Jackie was once defeated when she mischievously tried chicken noodle soup that was too hot for a kitty tongue. That same tongue turned pastel when she licked the candy coating off of Easter M&M’s.

Cats are known for their curiosity, and like Jackie, most kitty conquests usually aren’t dangerous. However, a daring appetite could harm your cat depending on what they find. Cat owners like Vickie who have curious felines may want to pay more attention to what they leave available for their cat to taste-test.

A recent warning issued by the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center identified a common snack that could be harmful to your cat: raisins or grapes. Between April 2003 and April 2004 the center managed more than 140 cases in which dogs consumed raisins or grapes. Of the cases handled, more than 50 of the dogs developed clinical signs that ranged in seriousness from vomiting to life-threatening kidney failure. Seven of the dogs died. There has been one case of renal failure occurring in a cat that ate raisins.

Pet owners hear plenty about the harmful effects that anti-freeze and chocolate can have on their companions, but the dangers associated with raisins and grapes aren’t as well known.

Luckily Jackie hasn’t added raisins to her menu, but like most pet owners, Vickie was unaware of the harmful effects raisins and grapes can have on cats. “It is complete luck that Jackie hasn’t eaten a raisin yet. I’m sure she would if she found some, though. It really scares me to think that such a common food could harm my cat and all along I had no idea,” she said.

Signs that your cat is developing a toxicosis include vomiting and symptoms similar to upset stomach.

Though dogs are usually associated with the risk of raisin or grape poisoning, the ASPCA does not limit the danger to dogs. In a press release issued by the Animal Poison Control Center all pet owners are warned of the toxic effect raisins and grapes can have on animals.

“Much is still yet to be discovered about the toxic principle associated with grape and raisin ingestions, as well as the exact mechanism leading to kidney damage. It is also not clear if only canines are susceptible to developing a toxicosisor if chronic, long term ingestions can lead to the same effects as large, acute or single ingestions,” the release stated. “As there are still many unknowns with the toxic potential of grapes and raisins, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center advises not giving grapes or raisins to any pets in any amount.”

Sarah Wright of Wisconsin lost her two year-old Australian Shepherd / Saint Bernard Mix, Penny early this April to kidney failure after Penny ingested raisins. Sarah wants to share her loss with others “so that other pet owners can be educated about the toxic potential of grapes and raisins, and avoid having their animals go through what Penny did.”

The ASPCA is continuing to research and monitor this situation and will provide more information to the public as it becomes available. If your cat does ingest grapes or raisins, or you suspect your cat may be experiencing problems, you can reach the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

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