It was three days after Christmas 2013 when we first saw her. She was less than a year old and not quite 5-1/2 lbs., and had been living in a car eating poptarts to survive just the day before. A Good Samaritan took her home and unfortunately had unwittingly left some rat bait under their couch, not having had any pets before. Within a short time, the little orange tabby kitten was very weak and pale. Turns out, the rat bait toxin she had been exposed to contained an anticoagulant that prevents blood from clotting.* This leads to internal bleeding which can, and does, result in death. Little Pixie was not the intended target, but now that she had eaten it (most animals find it very tasty), the clock was ticking. She had to be administered Vitamin K to counteract the effects of the toxin. In addition, the doctor induced vomiting to remove any unabsorbed anticoagulant, and administered some activated charcoal to help bind any remaining toxin in her stomach.
It took her several weeks to recover from her anemia from the blood loss. Even three months later, her clotting times were still prolonged, and she had to take additional Vitamin K before she could be spayed. Most rat bait toxins are extremely dangerous for our pets. Some newer rodenticides, as they are called, carry other toxins which do not have an antidote, and can cause liver or kidney failure. Bottom line, the health and financial costs are high, and these products should not be used around pets. If they must be used, be sure the pets cannot reach the bait, and that it is enclosed in a bait box to limit its spread beyond where you have placed it.
In Pixie’s case, her Good Samaritans were not prepared for the cost of her treatment and surrendered her care to us. We nursed her back to health and Lisa became attached to her sweet personality and took over responsibility for her. Now she is a seasoned member of Lisa’s household, but we still enjoy her visits now and then!
*Anticoagulant rodenticides include: Havoc, Liqui-Tox II, Final Blox, D-Con, Contrac Blox, Enforcer, and Tomcat.