Two cats sick from rat poisoning |

Two cats sick from rat poisoning

FRISCO – Candice Warren wonders what has happened to the fox she used to watch from her yard as it preyed on voles and chipmunks. And the Frisco woman wonders if its fate is similar to that of her sick cat, Pursey.

Pursey, a Persian cat, isn’t allowed outside except when Warren’s husband lets him out in the afternoon – and then, only if he can keep an eye on the cat.

Persian cats, Warren noted, are prone to colitis, which typically results in slightly bloody stools. But what she saw a few weeks ago was far from usual. She took her cat to veterinarian Denisa Court at Frisco Animal Hospital, who diagnosed the 3-year-old with rat poisoning.

Warren believes her cat got hold of a mouse, vole or chipmunk for which someone had laid out poison.

“They think the chipmunks are doing something to their homes, or eating their flowers,” Warren said. “But we live in the woods. We have chipmunks.”

Rodent poison thins blood and can cause internal bleeding. Usually, the affected animal will appear listless, bleed from the nose or have bloody, mucous stools. Untreated, the animal can die of internal bleeding as blood leaks out of veins and arteries and into body cavities.

Cats and dogs that eat a dead animal with poison in its system also can fall ill. Cats, Court said, are more likely to find dead, poisoned rodents, while dogs more often find things like antifreeze and lawn fertilizers. It takes five to seven days for an animal to exhibit symptoms of rat poisoning, said Court, who treats rat poisoning patients with vitamin K.

“I swear, I thought I was going to lose him,” Warren said. “But once I gave him another dose, he was right back to normal.”

He’s not completely recovered, however.

“But he’s not this mopey thing I thought was going to die on my bed,” Warren said, adding that Pursey could have to undergo a month’s worth of vitamin K treatment to recover fully. Vitamin K helps coagulate the blood.

Jennifer DeMatoff’s cat, Pipsy, also was poisoned last week. The Silverthorne woman said a roommate had forgotten to remove a box of rat poison from behind a desk, and Tipsy found it and ate some when DeMatoff was moving from the house.

It doesn’t take much pesticide to make an animal desperately ill, Court said. And while a cat might eat only one pellet of poisoning, a dog might opt to eat the whole container.

Warren is more concerned about how to keep her cat away from dead animals.

Urban legends abound in regards to methods to deter animals – from mice to deer – from flower and vegetable gardens. Scattering used cat litter or human or dog hair around the perimeter of gardens sometimes works as well. Other people swear by a sprinkling of paprika or crushed mothballs.

But there are few plants that deter animals – especially voles, said Joyce Derby of Mountain Pest Control in Vail.

“There isn’t a plant those critters won’t eat,” she said. “They love it when people come in for the season and plant all these nice flowers and plants.”

Solutions are difficult to come by in Summit County, where there is a plethora of animals, said Sherie Sobke, owner of Alpine Gardens in Silverthorne. Her customers, however, have had good results by playing a radio at low volume all night.

“They think someone’s there,” Sobke said. “People come in and say, “It’s the weirdest thing, but I think it’s working.'”

Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or

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