Dangerous Hydrangeas

21 Dec

Since joining our household it seems that Rafa is trying to use up all his nine lives before he reaches adulthood.

Apart from his great tree-climbing escapade, our great explorer has walked the tightrope of a narrow rail on our balcony, and found all sorts of hazards to challenge himself with. A couple of days ago we were horrified to find him licking tiny fragments of cheese from a grater we’d carelessly left on a worktop. Somehow he managed to avoid shaving the skin off his tongue.

Later he climbed into a kitchen cupboard and found a small hole used to access the stopcock for our water supply. After squeezing through this hole and venturing further he then found himself trapped in the space beneath the kitchen cupboards. Luckily Rafa has a very loud wail which usually alerts us when he is unable to find his way out of difficulties. After unscrewing the plinths, we found him crouched under the cupboards with as many cobwebs draping his face as old Miss Faversham in Great Expectations.

This time it was Rafa who needed his own wash and brush up in the sink where he likes to sit and watch.

But the most frightening time so far was when Rafa ate a poisonous plant. Like every other kitten, he has to explore every new thing so when I was unpacking a box of baby hydrangea plants, he was like a child at Christmas, desperate to see what was inside. Before I could remove the pots he pounced on one of the plants, breaking off a leafy stem and making off with it in his teeth. Bemoaning the now much reduced plant, I took the others out of reach but on returning found no sign of the stem he’d been chewing. A strange choice for a carnivore, I thought. When an hour or so later he suddenly vomited in the kitchen we first thought he’d just gobbled his food too fast. The second time he gave a piteous meow and convulsed his stomach before throwing up. He’d never been sick before and I went cold with fear, suddenly remembering the plant he’d eaten.

Grabbing the laptop and checking for hydrangeas we were shocked to find them listed as poisonous to cats (along with almost every other plant to be found in the garden). As this was a Sunday we had to ring an emergency vet’s number. He suggested we contact the National Animal Poison helpline. Although Rafa was by this time running about again and didn’t seem distressed, we were so worried about our little fellow that we paid the £30 upfront fee without hesitation. We found they didn’t yet have much data on the effects of eating hydrangeas (they even asked us to update them on the outcome so they could use it to help other owners – should they have been paying us?) but we were reassured by the advice that if it had been highly toxic it probably would have had a more serious effect sooner. Thankfully, the vomiting seemed to have cleared it from his system and he was soon playing with his toys and chasing after our other pets as normal,

It reminded us not to be complacent though. We know that lilies can be dangerous to cats, mostly because they may rub against the blooms and the pollen is poisonous when they lick it off their fur. Less toxic but still poisonous enough to make them ill is the popular poinsettia. Clearly we must be extra vigilant and keep these away from our pets however much we like these flowers. For young Rafa it seems there are just too many hazards.


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