Your little feline loves to go outside, play with her friends—and bring lizards home for you. You may not know if the “present” is dead or just stunned, so you scoop it up and take it outside. Lizards can be deadly for your furry friend.
Because of their tiny size, many small North American lizards are easy for your cat to scoop up into her mouth as she trots proudly into the house to lay her gift at your feet. Ewwww! While they are fast, your little girl is a skilled hunter and will have no trouble catching up to her four-legged prey. All she has to do is time when she smacks her paw on the lizard’s tail. From there, it’s a simple matter to scoop the reptile up into her jaws.
While these little reptiles, usually about three to four inches long, seem harmless, they do pose a strong health risk for your feline family member. However, that risk is not poisoning.
Lizards and Parasites
Geckos, skinks and toads carry parasites called liver flukes that are potentially deadly for cats. They don’t harm the lizards in whose bodies they reside, but when your cat friend snacks on an affected lizard, that parasite can move into her bile duct and cause a potentially fatal inflammation. Liver flukes can also block the bile duct so bile is not released, which leads up to a bile buildup in her liver. The bile becomes toxic.
If your little girl eats a lizard and a parasite does get lodged in her bile duct, her eyes will have a yellow tinge and you will see that, under her fur, her skin is yellow. She will also lose her appetite, become lethargic and experience tenderness and swelling in her abdomen. The eggs from lizard flukes will be visible in your cat’s poop after about 12 weeks.
Once a definite diagnosis is made by a vet, your little girl will have to take Droncit for three to five days. Panacur is also effective, but must be given to your kitty twice a day for five days. Prednisone may be necessary if she develops a liver inflammation.
Liver flukes are most commonly found in Florida, the Caribbean and the Hawaiian islands. If you live in one of these areas, you’ll have to train your precious girl to become an indoor-dwelling kitty. The liver fluke is the only potentially dangerous parasite that comes from lizards and geckos.
Mexican Beaded Lizard
If you live in the southwestern part of the United States, your kitty could tangle with the venomous Mexican beaded lizard. Unlike the smaller lizards that fit in her mouth, the Mexican beaded lizard will come out of any encounter as the winner.
These lizards inject their venom from glands located in their lower jaws. Fortunately, these lizards are actually gentle, so a bite from one is rare. If your cat runs across one that defends itself, look for swelling and bleeding from the site of the bite. Your cat will also experience severe pain where she was bitten, weakness, excessive salivation, low blood pressure, frequent urination and pooping, tearing from her eyes and an inability to meow. The best way to prevent these bites is to keep your cat indoors.
The gila monster is another large lizard that can deliver a poisonous bite to your furry little gal. It delivers its poison in the same way—from glands in its lower jaw. Your feline baby’s symptoms will be the same as with the Mexican beaded lizard.
Your vet will want to see if she’s suffering from low blood pressure. An electrocardiogram can be administered to find any abnormal heart rhythms. The only reliable way to diagnose a lizard bite is to see it happen.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Genevieve Van Wyden began writing in 2007. She has written for “Tu Revista Latina” and owns three blogs. She has worked as a CPS social worker, gaining experience in the mental-health system. Van Wyden earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New Mexico State University in 2006.