Aluren Breeders has compiled some serious info regarding the safety of your Bengal cat in your home. Of course all of these safety issues apply to any breed.  What makes this information special is that unlike many resources you may happen upon, we offer you our insight with practical answers to these safety concerns, not ethical preaching. Of course in most cases our solutions are obvious, remove the safety hazard.

MISCELLANEOUS

Food Poisoning

PROBLEM
I know the problem of garbage picking and sneaky cats that quest only to nibble for eatings sake, so this area is addressed. Any food that has been sitting becomes contaminated by bacteria and bacteria-produced toxins. At this point your cat is susceptible to poisoning. The toxicity of the rotten food lies largely in toxins produced by bacteria in the food material which are then delivered in the meal to the cat and cause severe gastrointestinal upset. Clinical signs can include vomiting, diarrhea (which may be bloody), fever, abdominal pain, and weakness. In very bad cases your cat can go into shock and even die as a result of the absorbed bacterial toxins.

SOLUTION
I practice what I preach and believe me it is not easy, but from birth our cats are not feed human food. Period. OK, on a rare occasion like Thanksgiving they get a treat. But it’s in their cat bowl not a human plate. Of course we would feed a turkey morsel by hand too. We don’t allow our Bengals here at Defiant to eat from human plates. While they are kittens they get daring but we ‘pluck’ them on the head with a little finger flick when they attempt to eat from our plates. But what if the impossible takes place and your cat has “escaped” and you suspect he or she has gotten into something very unappetizing (frequently the odor of the meal is obvious even before the pet throws it up!) be aware that this type of poisoning can be quite serious and follow up with your veterinarian if you see any signs of illness (repeated vomiting, lethargy, depression).


Teflon

PROBLEM
A report in 1990 on small animals revealed that cats are not the number one victim of Teflon poisoning. The AAPCC report on small animal poisoning, revaealed very few cats were victims in the 425 fatalities. The problem arises when pots or pans containing either Teflon or Silverstone are left on a hot stove until heated to >280 degrees Celsius (generally when a pan is forgotten on a hot stove for some time until it is “white hot”). The result is the release of toxic particles into the air that cause severe damage to lungs when inhaled. For cats this is not a real concern, more susceptible are birds which are unable to clear the toxic particles by exhaling, coughing, etc. and are therefore more susceptible to this type of poisoning. Although hard to avoid as it results from an accident, it might be a good idea to house pet birds a distance from the kitchen (especially if you tend to be an absent-minded cook!)

SOLUTION
You can guess, keep your cat or bird for that matter away from the kitchen when cooking. Hey I didn’t say all these would require any genius to remedy. 🙂


Chocolate (Drug class: Methylxanthines)

PROBLEM
This may come as a surprise to you but chocolate is poisonous. For dogs. As for cats… not really. Only in sufficient dosages.

Specifically it is the drugs in chocolate, the obromine and caffeine (of the drug class methylxanthines), that are toxic to pets. With the poison in this case being so appealing, overdose is not a rare occurrence.

SOLUTION
Don’t leave chocolate in dishes or on counters if you allow you cat on counters. For the most part cats have no interest in chocolate, but some cats are not well adjusted and want to pilfer. For those cats you must be extra careful and just knowing that chocolate can be harmful is all you need to know. If clinical signs are seen, these can include vomiting, excessive urination, hyperactivity, fast breathing, weakness and seizures. While rare, death can occur, usually due to the adverse action of methylxanthines on the heart make note of the amount of chocolate used in the recipe, the approximate amount eaten by your pet and give your veterinarian a call to determine if the dose was sufficient to cause any problems. Poisonings of this type typically occur during the holiday seasons of Easter, Christmas and Halloween. Fortunately, the animal frequently vomits soon after which reduces the amount of poison in the stomach available to act on the body and decreases the toxicity somewhat.


Household products

Overview
Poisons are unique and may require very different treatments and it is necessary to know the active ingredient in a potential poison. Rat poisons are not like ant poisons, herbicides, flea products, or others. The level of toxic active ingredient determines the level of danger your Bengal is in if ingested. As such, its critical to point out you need to determine this from the container your product comes in. Should the worst occur, your vet needs this valuable assistance from you. To know how to treat an exposed animal and to give a reasonably accurate prognosis the veterinarian should have the intact container with the label when evaluating the toxic potential of the product.

PROBLEM
This category contains most of the non-drug substances that poison animals throughout the country annually. Included are insecticides designed to kill ants, fleas, termites, wasps, etc., pesticidesagainst rats, mice, gophers and other unwanted pests, herbicides to kill weeds in our yards and gardens, cleaners for our homes and businesses, and ethylene glycol and fuel and other petroleumproducts used in cars, heaters, and even lighters. These are products which are both widespread in use and frequently highly toxic. The combination of being common and deadly frequently results in a very dangerous situation for household pets who share our homes, cabins, yards and cars.

Many common household items have been shown to be lethal in certain species. Miscellaneous items that are highly toxic even in low quantities include pennies (high concentration of zinc), mothballs (contain naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. Just one or two balls can be life threatening in most species), potpourri oils, fabric softener sheets, automatic dish detergents (contain cationic detergents which could cause corrosive lesions), batteries (contain acids or alkali which can also cause corrosive lesions), homemade play dough (contains high quantity of salt), winter heat source agents like hand or foot warmers (contain high levels of iron), cigarettes, coffee grounds, and alcoholic drinks.

SOLUTION
Once again, using the items above, compile a list, and keep them safe from your Bengal.


Antifreeze

PROBLEM
Probably the most common health hazard for dogs or cats is Antifreeze. It’s scientific name is ethylene glycol, This poison has a sweet taste, if spilled or leaked antifreeze is licked up off the ground or shelves by cats in quantities sufficient to cause severe sickness and yes, even cause death. Be sure to keep your cat(s) away when you are using antifreeze and clean up any spills.

It takes only about 1/4 teaspoon per pound for a cat to get a toxic dose of antifreeze. Although the poison affects the cats neurological and kidney function, the most severe damage usually involves the kidneys. Clinical signs in affected animals include depression, incoordination, vomiting, and seizures. Highly consider safety precautions, this toxin affects people as well as pets. This is of course for the sake of children we note that they are at risk for ethylene glycol poisoning.

SOLUTION
Storing antifreeze in a safe place may not be enough. Increase your safety level buy using an alternative engine coolant product.  Tgere is a non-toxic antifreeze on the market now, so look for it if you are a cat owner. Another on the market is “Sierra”tm (there are other one trade names) which claims to be safer than other brands of antifreeze. This alternative is by no means perfectly safe. It contains propylene glycol as its active ingredient. If ingested, it can still cause the nervous system injury resulting in incoordination and possibly seizures but does not cause the more frequently fatal kidney damage. It is clear using such a product would pose less of a health hazard.


Cleaning Solvents

PROBLEM
Again, this category contains dozens of products used around the home including toilet bowl cleaners, bleach, detergents, caustics (e.g., Dranotm, Ajaxtm), pine oils and others. Although intended to keep our lives safe and healthy by maintaining a clean environment, cleaning solvents are often highly poisonous to living tissue if a cat eats or becomes otherwise exposed to the chemicals in the cleaner.

These cleaners can destroy tissue on contact by acid or alkaline burns, by dissolving through tissue membranes, by absorbing through to the animal’s bloodstream and causing generalized illness and a variety of other mechanisms. Pine oils and electric dishwashing detergents particularly tend to be quite toxic although the range of chemicals included in cleaning products can cause signs varying widely from mild local irritation (many detergent soaps) to deep penetrating tissue damage (alkaline products) to severe systemic disease (pine oils and others).

SOLUTION
Once again the best remedy is prevention. Keep all cleaners tightly closed when not in use to prevent accidental spills and ingestion. Also, be sure to keep pets out of newly cleaned areas to avoid paw injuries from walking in the newly applied cleaning solution and mouth burns from the animal then grooming itself. Also be aware of the possible dangers of toilet bowl cleaners from dogs and cats who consider the toilet just another water bowl! In case of accidental exposure to cleaning products, it is generally recommended to flush the skin (or mouth) with plain water to wash away remaining chemicals, then call in to your veterinary clinic for further instructions. In the AAPCC 1990 report, 5.9% (2,217 animals) of all non-drug poison exposures were inquiries following exposure to cleaning products, with 80 of those animals being moderately to severely affected.


Flea & Parasite products

PROBLEM
Even if you keep your Bengal indoors during all seasons, it can still happen. Fleas. Ack! Who hasn’t had to deal with them at least once? The fleas we Bengal cat owners have to deal with is known as Ctenocephalides felis. The problem with Flea products is not the products themselves, but misuse.

SOLUTION
Let’s start with dips, sprays and over the counter remedies. First off, don’t use dog flea products on cats. That’s why we mentioned above that there is a flea that preys on cats. Some dog flea preparations can be toxic to cats and almost all-topical flea preparations (dips, sprays, etc.) can be poisonous if not used in accordance with label instructions. These may also contain compounds that are appropriate for dogs but poisonous to cats. If label instructions are for once weekly use, and the product is used daily or more often, poisoning can result. If premise sprays, specifically not for use directly on pets, are used on or near pets, poisoning may result. The message is clear — use brand names you are familiar with (ask your vet for recommendations if you’re not familiar with any specific products), and use according to label instructions. STOP use if your animal shows any abnormal signs (possibly poor appetite, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive salivation). Excessive drooling may be caused only by the taste of the product, or may truly be of concern. Contact your veterinary clinic. Consider bathing your pet in warm water with diluted liquid dish detergent to remove flea products from the hair and skin oils, thereby limiting your pet’s exposure.

Next are the vet prescribed Advantage and Frontline applications. Meant to enable your pet to enjoy the freedom of the outdoors you should understand that Advantage would kill fleas that bite your cats skin for up to 3 months. Just don’t bath your Bengal after you’ve applied the product. As the packaging instructs, it’s best on the back of the neck and head. This way your cat can not lick the area. Otherwise it will cause their mouth to foam and cause your Bengal to drink heavily. Don’t apply it to queens in the last stage of pregnancy. It can cause her to go into labor prematurely.


Heavy Metals (lead, zinc)

PROBLEM
Lead poisoning is seen occasionally in small animals. Clinical signs for animal suffering lead poisoning usually include a combination of signs involving the gastrointestinal system (vomiting, constipation diarrhea, painful abdomen) and the neurological system (depression, blindness, circling, muscle tremors, incoordination). Onset of signs is usually relatively quick but signs can progress more slowly if the animal is slowly being exposed to the poison, i.e., repeated ingestion of lead based paint.

Zinc poisoning occurs most frequently when cats ingest zinc in the form of pennies. The metal interacts with components of the animal’s red blood cells and can cause, weakness, trembling, loss of appetite. Although not seen frequently, it is interesting to note how such a mundane object can be toxic when ingested.

SOLUTION
Proably of low concern. However if you have a cat that eats inanimate objects routinely… The solution will take some true appreciation for animals. List the items above and inspect your property. If your cat is the type to lick just about anything, then its time to replace the potential hazards.


Drugs

Overview
Animal poisoning by drugs is by far the most common type of small animal poison exposure, accounting for 75% of 1990 toxin exposures as reported by the AAPCC and 82 of 425 fatalities. Cats are not as guilty as dogs, but this catagories high fatality rate demands respect. Even veternarian prescribed drugs can be harmful if you don’t follow directions. Improper dosages are worse than not administering a drug at all.  Human over-the-counter pain relievers are occasionally used in veterinary medicine for pain relief but they should only be given upon specific advice and direction of a veterinarian. Pain relievers, or analgesics, are not designed for use by cats and dogs and a minimal human dose can poison a pet. Cats and dogs do not utilize and tolerate drugs in the same way people do and human drugs should NEVER be assumed to be safe for animals.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

PROBLEM
Tylenol is, of course, the human over-the-counter analgesic medicine used to relieve pain. In people, after the pills are taken, the ingredients are broken down in the body by enzymes in the liver. In people, Tylenol is generally a safe and useful painkiller. Cats, however, have less of the enzyme required to detoxify the drug following ingestion. As a result, there are many dangerous metabolites, or break-down products of acetaminophen that bind to red blood cells and other tissue cells, resulting in the destruction of these cells. There may also be direct damage to tissue cells from the painkiller. As little as one regular strength tablet (325 mg) can poison a cat to the degree that it can develop noticeable clinical signs of illness. Two extra-strength tablets are likely to kill a cat.

SOLUTION
The message is clear, due to the significant toxicity to pets in relatively minimal dosage…   Tylenol should not be given to cats. Other, safer, drugs are available for pain relief; Your veterinarian can assist with your Bengals specific needs. And don’t be cheap! Use a Vet!


Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Phenylbutazone, Naproxen (NSIAD toxicity)

PROBLEM
These pain relievers are NSAID’s (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and are widely prescribed with caution by veterinarians to relieve pain from arthritis and other conditions. Note that they are prescribed, pet owners should never assume they can judge symptoms and self-prescribe their pet. It’s unwise and you risks your pets life.

A vet will share with you that animal dosages are much lower than human dosages. Use of NSAID’s can significantly increase the risk for development of stomach or intestinal ulcers, particularly in a sick patient, or one receiving other medications. These pain relievers cause signs of poisoning by decreasing the mucous production in the stomach. Mucous serves to protect the stomach from the acids it secretes and reduction in mucous production decreases the protection the stomach has from acid secretion and increases the likelihood of ulcer formation. In addition these drugs indirectly decrease the blood flow to vital organs, particularly the kidney, and can result in significant kidney damage. Two regular strength aspirin in a Bengal boy can cause clinical signs of poisoning. As with Tylenol, cats are more sensitive to these drugs and should never be given these medications unless under the specific direction of a veterinarian.

SOLUTION
These drugs can be safely used and, in fact, are employed in veterinary practice every day in appropriate doses and after careful medical evaluation of the patient. It’s important to realize cats do not respond in the same way to human medications that people do. Any medications need to be discussed with and prescribed by a veterinarian prior to giving them to your pet to avoid an inadvertent and tragic poisoning.