Debbie Johnson, Feline Network Cat Rescue, Paignton:
We have had a few reports recently of cats locally being poisoned, some fatally, so here are facts and tips to avoid these hazards.
What is poisonous to cats?
One of the most common is anti-freeze, much used over winter.
Cats find the taste of this sweet, however it will likely kill them, even if treated quickly.
Once it reaches the organs the damage is irreversible.
There was a case in a local caravan park a few years ago whereby someone poisoned three out of four of a neighbour’s cats.
The fourth escaped because they were indoors recovering from a mysterious tail degloving injury. No prosecution was brought.
Lilies, poppies, marigolds, even poinsettia and mistletoe can do harm to cats if chewed or ingested.
Most are irritants which effect the mouth, nose, stomach. Many are systemic, in that they damage, often irreparably, the cats’ organs, usually there is no treatment.
Signs to look for it you think your cat might have succumbed, salivation, vomiting and diarrhoea, twitching and fitting, breathing difficulties, shock or collapse, inflammation or swelling of the skin, depression or coma, changes in drinking, urinating and appetite.
Always phone and check with your vet, who may suggest the cat be taken to the surgery immediately, time is often of the essence.
If you suspect foul play, try to get evidence, bag up vomit, faeces or urine, take photos if you find anything suspicious, speak to the police on 101 and get a crime number.
The situation can be very distressing but if you do suspect someone has deliberately hurt your cat it needs to be reported, there may well be other instances locally.
Many vets, animal welfare groups and charities are looking forward to the increase in law, whereby anyone convicted of cruelty could face five years in jail rather than six months.
A decision is expected in May.
Meanwhile, if you do have any concerns, speak to the police, who can advise, or the RSPCA animal cruelty line on 0300 1234 999 or to their website to make an online complaint.
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