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FloridaWild Vet Hospital

Black Kitten Episode: an Unforgettably Frightful Halloween

In just a few weeks, Halloween will be just around the corner. Celebrated annually on October 31, this holiday is one of the oldest celebratory events observed throughout the world.

Bobbing for apples, visiting haunted houses, watching hair-raising, scalp-tingling, scary horror movies, getting dressed up in colorful costumes are but a few of the more traditional ways that folks celebrate on Halloween.

I must admit that it’s entertaining to watch the abundance of children dressed up in goblin or ghost costumes, or the scary skeletons wrapped up in clanking chains. The diminutive screaming zombies roaming the streets can frighten the Dickens out of anyone.

Even though the folks who prefer not taking part in Halloween festivities and remain at home, for some strange reason, they seem to attract hordes of zealous trick-or-treaters adorned in their bewitching costumes. Out to get their fair share of treats, these little munchkins ring their doorbells continuously. Although there’s nothing to be ashamed of if you’re frightened on Halloween since it’s all part of the game.

Photo: Edgar Allen Poe: Photo Credit: Jo Singer

However, Halloween’s terror escalated to new heights for me several years ago when our kitty, Edgar Allen Poe, (aka EAP) was a seven months old kitten. Kittens have an insatiable, inquisitive nature, and anything and everything on the floor can be extremely tempting to them. Despite our arduous kitty-proofing, too often, these little objects often end up being swallowed.

I am an extraordinarily safety-minded kitty guardian. I religiously scan the environment for potentially dangerous objects that are within our kitties’ reach. So when I discovered several 5000 IU capsules of Vitamin D3 on the dining room carpet, I was puzzled about how they got there. You can “bet your bippie” that I vacuumed thoroughly to make sure that none were left.

Thankfully on that Halloween morning so many years ago, I caught EAP eating something off the kitchen floor. I ran over to him just in time to grab the object from his mouth. It turned out to be one-half of a Vitamin D3 gelatin capsule. Sadly, he already had swallowed a whole capsule, meaning that he most probably had ingested more than one. I jumped to my computer to find out whether Vitamin D3 was toxic for kitties.

My search revealed that even moderate levels of Vitamin D3 might be toxic for cats. Vitamin D3 is essential to regulate the balance of calcium and phosphorous. It retains calcium to help the bone formation and muscle and nerve control, at the same time, Vitamin D isn’t entirely benign.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin stored in fatty body tissues and the liver. If excessive levels are ingested it can create serious health concerns. Fortunately I was able to contact our veterinarian. She advised me to immediately call the ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline. Based on the help I received from this service I highly recommend The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. If you are concerned that your pet may have swallowed a substance that may be potentially toxic, this service can be a lifesaver.

After I shared EAP’s weight and age, the agent called the on-call veterinarian. Following the call, the agent reassured me that EAP hadn’t consumed a toxic amount. Apparently, 5000 IU vitamin D3 is the equivalent to 0.075mg. EAP had consumed only two 5000 IU vitamin D3 capsules; the equivalent of 0.15mg. It would have been toxic had EAP ingested more than four capsules. But EAP was still growing, so the extra calcium was no big deal. However this amount might be toxic for older cats.

The consultation charge with the ASPCA Poison Control service is $65. However, callers can contact the service at no additional charge if it’s within 12 hours of the initial contact. That call not only gave me peace of mind; it saved me from a trip to an emergency room.

I am greatly relieved that Halloween will soon be a memory. But the memory of that frightful Halloween morning I experienced will never be forgotten.


By: Jo Singer, MSW, CSW, LCSW, (ret)

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