Critter Crises

Just before we start, no one was ever anything but fine. Except me. I think I had my last heart palpitations this morning, just thinking about it.

What happened was, about a week ago I asked the Engineer if he would make me just a giant bowl of braised mushrooms for supper, as I frequently do. Normally he does these bad boys (shiitakes and baby portabellas) with a whack of shallots, along with thyme from the front yard and dry vermouth and some garlic, only we were scandalously out of shallots, so he doubled up on the garlic and the whole house smelled like Lucy Westenra’s bedroom. In the end there were more mushrooms than I could eat and I left my bowl on the table while I did the washing-up. And forgot about it.

In the cold dawn I awakened and remembered with horror that garlic (like onions and all their relatives, including lilies) is toxic to cats. And that four of our six had had the run of the first floor all night. And that my dearly beloved Mr. Ferguson is the one who likes to get up on the table.

The Engineer was off to work early so he wasn’t around for me to cling to as I approached the table and saw the mushrooms, with their visible festoon of garlic chunks, nosed about and looking nibbled-on in the ceramic bowl. We had sprinkled them with cheese. The cats love cheese.

Everyone looked okay. I called the vet and asked. They punted and told me to call the Animal Poison Control Center.  Veterinarians who know their toxicology are standing by, they said.

I have dealt with “toxic to cats” before, at least in a mild way. Once, back in my old house when I was married to my Late and Ex, Apricat of blessed memory ate some azalea blossoms. I found him chomping away and seized my veterinary manual, which advised me that azaleas caused nausea and irritation and that I should cause the cat to vomit them up by placing a quarter teaspoon of salt at the back of his tongue. I am a good cat wrangler and had the salt in there faster than Mr. Zip can spit; Apricat, released, took a couple of steps away from me, turned his head back with an expression that clearly said “You swine!”, put his head down and urked a wad of melon-colored blossoms onto the beige carpet.

Here, however, I faced the possibility that the garlic had gone down the hatch anything up to eight hours ago. I tried to add up the number of cloves the Engineer had minced and divide by the poundage of mushrooms corrected for the water they had released.You get the idea. The best the Poison Control people could say is that there was a low risk of a toxic dose and that I should watch all the cats for the next five days for signs of weakness, nausea and locomotor ataxia. (They said wobbly gait, but I was busily looking it up online and reverting to the medical terminology that I find exact.) Garlic damages the red blood cells, so that the liver and spleen can be slammed with busted erythrocytes that overwhelm the normal clearing functions of both organs. It sounded perfectly horrid.

Everyone was okay all that day.

And the next. And the day after that.

And, well, everyone was okay. Either someone pushed the shrooms around and said “Blargh,” or ate some and went off and barfed in a corner which I have yet to find, or it just wasn’t enough garlic to do damage. Back in the day, some people would tell you to worm your cats with garlic. Never tried it, happily.

Anyway, don’t leave garlicky things out where your cats might eat them. And for god’s sake never let them near lilies, which pack enough of the critical chemicals that a little pollen can kill a cat. They smell like rotting ragout anyway.

The Poison Control Center wanted my Visa for more than I would charge for a half hour appointment. The workman is worthy of his hire and I paid it, but some people don’t have that to pay. I wonder what they do.

In other news, hawthorn extract  alleviates heart palpitations. Verb. sap.

 

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Critter Crises

  1. Been there. Like when my Samoyed puppy ate an unknown number of M&Ms. Chocolate being toxic to dogs, I attempted to make him vomit by giving him Syrup of Ipecac, a few doses of which he lapped down over about an hour to no effect (Yum!). The vet manual suggested a dose of hydrogen peroxide, which did the trick, but by which time the M&Ms were long gone with no bad results, fortunately. But still, a difficult evening for the owner.

    • I had a client who hired an irresponsible petsitter who baked a chocolate torte which her golden retrievers ate. One was okay but one had to spend some time at the vet’s with tachycardia. I figure the dose is all, unless it was a monster bowl of M and M’s, it couldn’t have added up to half a chocolate torte.

      That horrible feeling though. It’s so helpless.

  2. There is just nothing, nothing, nothing worse than that feeling. I keep a tincture of milk thistle on hand (made for cats) for that reason…depending on the toxin, it can do wonders to protect the liver, if I’m told to “watch and wait.” I’m so glad that everyone seems to be okay.

  3. A couple years ago Tuffy P made a batch (66 to be exact) of double chocolate cookies as part of a Christmas baking extravaganza. When they came out of the oven she placed them on cookie sheets on the kitchen table to cool, then went upstairs to do something or another. That’s when she heard a loud thump, so loud in fact she thought it was somebody trying to break into the house. She ran downstairs to save the day. George the Newf was standing up with his elbows on the kitchen table. He had eaten all 66 of the cookies in record time. He understood that once you’ve done the crime you might as well enjoy all the spoils. Tuffy P called the vet and they did some calculations and announced that he would be fine, just wired on sugar for a few hours.

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