What is paracetamol?

Paracetamol is a commonly available painkiller. It is very safe in humans but cats are very sensitive to paracetamol as they are unable to metabolise it safely, resulting in the production of toxic compounds in the body. These have toxic effects on the blood and liver.

Sources of paracetamol

Paracetamol is available in tablets and capsules but is also a common ingredient in medicines for the relief of cold and flu symptoms. It is also available in syrups for children.
Many cases of paracetamol poisoning in cats occur because an owner has given their cat a whole or part of a tablet for the relief of pain without being aware of the risks.

What are the signs of paracetamol poisoning?

In cats the main eff ect of paracetamol is on the red blood cells where haemoglobin is changed to methaemoglobin. As a result the blood it less effective at carrying oxygen to the tissues of the body. If the cat survives this initial stage, liver injury may occur after several days.
The clinical signs of paracetamol poisoning, which will begin within the first few hours, can include:
• Panting
• Diffi culty breathing
• Swollen face
• Discoloured gums
• Lethargy
• Distress
• Vomiting

EMERGENCY ADVICE
• Call Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509000 even if your pet is showing no signs to find out whether a trip to the vet is required.
• Remove your pet from the source of poison.
• Do not try to make your pet vomit –NEVER give salt water.
• Collect the poison and take a sample/ container with you if you are advised to take your pet to the vet practice.