Winter is dangerous for your kitty, but not just because of the cold temperatures. Calcium chloride and other "ice melts" make frozen porches and walkways safer for people, but more dangerous for animals. Your pet can develop mild to severe symptoms if she eats any of these substances.
Even if your kitty shows no interest in licking rock salts off the porch, she may eat some accidentally as she cleans herself. While calcium chloride is not healthy for your pet in any dose, she probably won't develop serious side effects from cleaning a few salt grains from her paws and fur. If she avoids food or keeps opening her mouth to lick her lips for no apparent reason, then her tongue and gums may be a little swollen from exposure to rock salt. Salts are skin irritants, so the skin on her paws may be irritated and sensitive as well. Call your vet and describe your pet's symptoms.
Licking salt from a cracker or chip isn't a big deal, but raw rock salt is a different story. It takes a lot of highly concentrated salt to make a dent in ice, so this substance is potent enough to harm your pet if he eats some. Digestive inflammation and other immediate health problems may emerge within hours of ingestion. Contact your vet immediately if your cat starts drooling, throwing up or has sudden muscle spasms. All of these symptoms signal that she's eaten too much salt and needs medical attention, according to National Capital Poison Center.
There's not much you can do to treat your kitty without professional assistance, so don't hesitate to get her to the vet. If you still have the bag or bucket the salt came in, bring it with you so your vet can identify the toxic substances involved. The vet may induce vomiting to expel any toxins remaining in your cat's stomach. Treating calcium chloride poisoning hinges upon managing symptoms as they emerge and keeping inflammation of mucous membranes to a minimum to prevent damage to your kitty's digestive system, according to ASPCA Professional.
Rock salt poisoning is easy to prevent, so don't wait until your kitty gets sick to take action. Indoor pets have little to worry about as long as you store rock salt in a sealed container and clean your shoes before entering the house. If keeping your pet indoors during the winter is not an option, then avoid spreading ice melts around the house. Spread sand or cat litter on icy walkways to increase traction instead, according to Suburban Pets of Long Island. Consider keeping your cat indoors during the winter months so that you can safely use ice melts to stop porches and walkways from freezing over.
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.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.