Is Paracetamol Toxic To Cats?

Is paracetamol toxic to cats? The answer is a resounding YES. This is a little story that underlines that sentence. Claire Pritchard had three cats: Midnight, Maisie and Moo-Moo. She lives in Bournemouth, England, UK, a nice seaside town on the south coast. One day Midnight came home with a limp. Midnight may have been hit by a car. Obviously, in line with most English cat owners she lets her cats outside to roam wherever that want to. I disagree with allowing cats complete freedom of movement as it is too dangerous for the cat.

Is paracetamol toxic to cats? Yes

Is paracetamol toxic to cats? Yes. Photo of Persian cat copyright Helmi Flick. Picture of paracetamol by Sarah.

Claire says she had seen her mother give pills to her cats. She seems to have made up her mind that her mother gave her cats paracetamol so following that she gave one quarter of a 500 mg paracetamol pill to her cat to ease the discomfort. Nothing appeared to have happened. Next day she gave her cat another quarter of a paracetamol pill. Midnight collapsed and died later.

That it is first big lesson for Mrs Pritchard. Never give your cat human medicine without checking with your vet first. A lot of pain killing pills kill or seriously harm cats because they don’t have the enzymes to metabolise these drugs. In fact cat owners can make the presumption that human medicine is dangerous to cats. That is a safe starting point. There are lots of other things that are toxic to cats.

The next hard lesson to be learned is that it is a crime in England and Wales to give your cat a human analgesic if it causes harm. Someone in the family asked the RSPCA for advice. Once again this was an attempt to avoid going to the vet. The vet was the person to call. In addition to helping sick animals, the RSPCA have the task in the UK of beginning criminal prosecutions under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. She was charged, prosecuted and convicted under the Act for causing unnecessary suffering to her cat Midnight. This is section 4 of the Act.

She received a conditional discharge and had to pay court costs of £280. She had pleaded guilty, however, so the law was not tested but it seems she was advised to plead guilty as the case against her was a strong one. She had made a careless mistake. At the time, she did not know she had done something wrong. However, as the RSPCA pointed out, she didn’t do the obvious and important thing; take her cat to the vet.

A lot of people try and save money by not taking their cat to the vet and delay going. They then try and treat their cat themselves. We don’t have information on the numbers but it is probably that many cats become more ill because of this.

I understand the financial obstacles of going to the vet. They can be expensive and the whole process is a bit scary. But, good cat caretaking dictates that we bite the bullet when required and get our cat the best possible health care. Find a good vet too because not all vets are of the same standard.

Original picture of paracetamol by Sarah

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Is Paracetamol Toxic To Cats? — 7 Comments

  1. Mrs Pritchard deserved to be fined, she murdered her cat! No, not intentionally but if she’d only picked up the phone and asked the vets for advice instead of guessing, most practices here now have a vet nurse on 24 hour call to give free advice.
    I don’t agree that complete freedom of movement is wrong in a safe cat friendly place in England and with sensible precautions such as keeping cats in after dark and when no one is home. Most of our vets recommend if at all possible to let cats have their freedom for a fulfilled life. She shouldn’t be blamed for giving her cats their freedom.
    Many accidents and illnesses happen indoors too, we can’t wrap our pets up in cotton wool just as we can’t wrap our children up either, we have to weigh up the pros and cons and can’t judge each other on our decisions according to where we live.
    I hope the UK isn’t going to copy the USA in making most cats total prisoners, after all that’s why declawing was invented there!

    • I agree that complete freedom of movement of a cat is fine if the outside environment is considered safe. There are places like that in the UK and USA. It is just that in a lot of places including most inner city environments completely free movement is unsafe because of roads and traffic. I guess it is a question of common sense. In Mrs Pritchard’s case it was unsafe to give her cats complete freedom.

  2. I’ve heard before that aspirin and parecetamol are very dangerous or deadly for cats. I have also read to never give a cat human medications, especially pain killers. This is a story of ignorance I guess. Its a bit sad really because she obviously loved her cat but was at the same time a bit lazy and didnt know the consequences. As for being let outside ….where does she live exactly? Thats always a hard, if not impossible judgement to make. There is always risk and there is always quality of life. If you want to get serious about living with cats then move if its not as safe as it can possible reasonably be where you live already.

    • Quite right Marc, people who seriously love their cats don’t live in a dangerous place to cats. They would move if there was a danger to any human family member where they lived, so why not for a feline member. Oh I forgot, a cat’s right to a suitable environment isn’t as important as a humans right, to some people!

    • “If you want to get serious about living with cats..” that summarises a lot of what is not quite right about owning cats. You have to take it seriously if you want to do it properly. If you do it in a lazy and slightly careless way you might end up with the kind of problems that Mrs Pritchard is undergoing.

  3. I’m sorry, I do sympathise with Claire Pritchard on the loss of her cat because we all know how devastating it is, having said that the death was entirely down to her ignorance and dare I say stupidity, I’m glad it was taken to court, let it be a lesson to people who can’t be bothered to get proper veterinary treatment for their animals. If she is computer literate enough to get on a website and post the story of it then she should be savvy enough to research safe care of her cat. I’ve said it before many times under many circumstances having a cat is NOT compulsary it’s a privilege, so if you live somewhere unsuitable for cats, can’t afford proper treatment for cats, have no time or patience for cats the simply remedy is don’t have one!!!

  4. I’m so paranoid over cat medications that now I look up a drug prescribed by a vet before I accept that drug as treatment. Vets don’t always stay up to date on what’s dangerous. Companies change ingredients and a drug that used to be safe may be toxic.

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