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.
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.