Fortunately, kittens are generally less likely to ingest household chemical poisons that are puppies or toddlers, although some common chemicals, like antifreeze, do have pleasant tastes that may attract the young cat. Occasionally a youngster will consume drugs like Tylenol or other human painkillers during play. Of course, all such substances must be kept well out of reach of all pets as they can be deadly, even in small doses, for pets as well as for children. If you suspect your kitten may have consumed any amount of any prescription or over-the-counter drug, including dietary supplements meant for humans or other animal species, call your veterinarian immediately. Most poisoning can be treated if treatment comes in time.
Outdoor cats may be exposed to poisoned rodent bait or pesticides. Prevention of poisoning with such toxins is one of the many reasons to keep your cat indoors except under the strictest supervision. Because of their fastidious grooming habits, cats can become intoxicated with poisons, including household cleaning chemicals, that contact their coats or feet when they clean themselves. Never leave chemical powders or liquid spills where your kitten or cat can inadvertently walk through, inhale, or roll in them. When using cleaners on floors, counters, or any other surfaces available to your kitten, be sure to remove residue completely. Poisoning can be successfully treated in most cases if it is detected early and treated promptly. Always advise your veterinarian of all potentially harmful substances that are kept or used in the cat’s environment, indoors or out.
In my experience, the most common cause of intoxication for kittens is poisonous houseplants. Lilies of all types can be very harmful to the kitten that chews on leaves or flowers of the plant. A number of other highly poisonous plants are commonly kept as home decorations, and kittens love to chew on greenery around the house. Not only is this chewing of plants potentially deadly for cats, but it is also quite hard on the plants. I have given up on live plants around my house, and keep only the artificial, silk variety myself. At the clinic, we have several very attractive arrangements, all silk. Silk plants are not nearly as interesting to cats, and they withstand the occasional munch from the inquisitive clinic cat without much disfigurement. They last much longer than live plants and require only the occasional dusting to keep them looking bright and decorative. If your cat seems attracted to even artificial greenery consider eliminating these or removing them to cat-safe locations. This includes real and artificial Christmas trees.
Sudden, repetitive vomiting or profound depression and lethargy in a kitten may signal to poison. If you see signs like this, contact your veterinarian immediately. Make a swift search of the kitten’s environment for signs of any plant or substance the kitten may have ingested. This information will be invaluable to your veterinarian in managing your kitten’s problems.
Kittens are very agile creatures. Although they love to jump from high places and frolic with abandon around the house, they are much less likely to sustain major injuries from falls or sudden stops against furniture or walls that are puppies. Even so, kittens can strain, sprain, or even fracture their limbs in some, especially disastrous mishaps. If your kitten should suddenly become lame for more than a few hours, or if you notice blood or extreme pain in any part of a kitten’s body, see your veterinarian right away. Lacerations can become infected and blood loss from a bleeding wound can be substantial for a small cat if serious injury is ignored.
Most major injuries to kittens and cats occur outdoors. Automobile accidents and attacks from other animals are the most common source of serious injury to cats allowed outdoors. Kittens may also rarely miscalculate the distance to the ground when they jump from high places outdoors, resulting in broken bones or dislocations. Older cats almost never make this kind of mistake, although any cat that is running for its life can become injured in the dash through or over fences, balconies, trees, and the like.
Abscesses from fights with other cats may arise after a period of time after an outdoor adventure. Abscesses show up as painful swellings on the body, or even as draining wounds once the abscess has broken open. Abscesses require a veterinarian’s care as soon as the problem becomes evident. Keep your kittens and cats indoors. It is the single most important accident-prevention measure we can take with our felines. In any case of suspected injury, call your veterinarian for guidance about whether a visit is necessary. Kittens are resilient, elastic little animals, with a great capability to recover from trauma, but they may need help for complete, rapid recovery.
An owner’s vigilance is the most important health aid for all cats. Like children, kittens need supervision of their day-to-day well being if they are to grow up healthy, happy, and safe from permanent harm.