Lead Paint Poisoning In Cats
by Elisa Black-Taylor
Lead paint poisoning in cats isn’t something we hear much about these days. With improvements made to the paint we use on the exterior and interior of our homes, it’s just not something we think of when starting a home improvement project. During the past fifty years, paint has become not only safer but nearly odorless.
Lead paint and lead toxicity are still a big concern for those cat owners (dog owners, this is also for you) who live in older houses. Whether its paint flaking caused by age or the paint is purposely scraped off a wall or old furniture before beginning a home improvement project, we all need to be aware of how lead poisoning occurs and the symptoms to watch for.
Cats as well as dogs are curious creatures who often get into trouble with chemicals. The most common cause of lead paint poisoning is through the dust left behind while a homeowner is removing the paint from a surface. The pet will be in the fallout of lead particles and later wash themselves, thus ingesting the dust through grooming.
Symptoms include lack of appetite, chomping of jaws, vomiting and diarrhea, muscle spasms and lack of coordination. In rare cases, a poisoned cat will have show signs of aggression or convulsions.
The most common symptom is vomiting. Sometimes there is blood in the vomit or there is quite a large amount to come out at one time. In either case a vet should be seen immediately.
Lead poisoning can lead to blindness. Your cat may be blind in one of both eyes and may run into objects, meow more than normal or become inactive.
One of the most frightening symptoms seen in advanced lead poisoning is seizures. These can range from minor twitching to life threatening and again an emergency vet visit is called for.
Cats, especially those living indoors, are in the most danger from lead paint poisoning. I would imagine this is due to cats being smaller than most dogs and lead tends to build up in the tissues and affects the gastrointestinal as well as nervous systems. Intense grooming isn’t solely to blame. Your cat may decide a piece of paint scraped off of a wall would make a perfect toy to bat around or chew on.
There are a number of different blood and urine tests your vet can perform to determine if your cat is suffering from lead poisoning. The only problem is that sometimes the first test doesn’t pinpoint lead as the toxin.
Inducing vomiting or chelation therapy are the main treatments. Your vet may prescribe thiamine or penicillamine as well as treatments to strengthen the immune system.
If your house was painted after 1960, there is little to worry about as far as lead paint on interior or exterior walls is concerned.
The following are also lead culprits, so don’t think you’re safe if you have a newer paint job.
* Car batteries that contain lead acid
* Roofing and plumbing supplies
* Linoleum Foil made of lead
* Metallic toys (check labels)
* Ceramic food bowls that were insufficiently glazed
* Solder Pewter
Prevention is best to protect your pets from lead toxicity. Not only when painting your house, but when refinishing old furniture. This is one of my favorite hobbies. Unfortunately, people in the last century had a fondness for covering beautiful wood with as many layers of lead based paint as possible. Removing this paint from furniture should be done in a well ventilated area with no pets around to oversee the project. It’s simply too dangerous.
With as many out there who are into painting or refinishing projects, I feel this is a subject we may not think about as being hazardous to our cats. It’s a pleasant thought to imagine your cat lazily laying around watching you work. We just don’t think about how dangerous lead paint dust can be to a small pet.
Have any of the readers experienced this type of poisoning in a pet. Any advice or anything I’ve missed?