After the sudden death of her young farm cat, a Metchosin woman is asking people to stop using rat poison for pest control.
Kate Fraser was shocked to find Blue, her family’s one-year-old tuxedo cat and “special friend” to her two young boys, lying dead outside her home on July 15. He hadn’t been sick, and there were no signs that he was injured or had been hit by a car.
The cat was a mouser on Fraser’s three-acre chicken and bee farm, but it was only after they sent Blue’s body for an autopsy at Elk Lake Veterinary that Fraser learned he had died of rodenticide poisoning. He had ingested a mouse or rat with poison in its system.
“Please, stop using poisons,” she posted to Facebook the next day. “I have two young boys who have now lost their pet. I am heartbroken. He was my special friend. He followed me everywhere. He got me over my fear of cats. I can’t believe he is gone. I know many of you also have cats that go outside.”
Speaking with Black Press Media a few days later, Fraser said she wants people to find safer, more humane ways to deal with pests on their property.
“I just found him dead lying out there. He had blood coming out of his mouth. He had no broken bones or anything, he didn’t look like there was anything wrong,” she said. That’s why we wanted to know what happened to him.
“Poisoning was my fear because now I think, it’s not really safe to get future cats. It makes me really nervous.”
|Blue was under a year old when he died from ingesting a poisoned rodent. His owner now says she is nervous to get another cat for her Metchosin farm. (Facebook/Kate Fraser)|
There are two varieties of rat poison and both can be deadly for pets, explained Dr. Natalie Gage, a vet at Elk Lake Veterinary Clinic.
First generation rodenticide is the type she sees most commonly ingested by pets.
“It does cause bleeding problems and that’s how it kills the rats it poisons,” Gage explained, adding it prevents Vitamin K from activating clotting factors.
“Without the Vitamin K, without the clotting factors, these animals can bleed from very minimal trauma or they can bleed internally from no trauma whatsoever – which is what happened to Blue.”
While rat poisoning can be treated in pets if caught in time, symptoms are minimal. The only signs being white gums and a sudden collapse before the animal dies.
Wildlife is often impacted by rodenticides. Scavenging birds such as owls and eagles have been known to perish after catching a poisoned rat or mouse. In fact, in March 2018, the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture said the number of owls dying from poisoning more than doubled in a six month period.
Second generation varieties of rat poison are even less treatable and more fatal, Gage said, adding that poisons also cause an unpleasant death for the rats.
“I don’t like the poisons … there are more humane ways at pest control,” she said. “There are certain companies that have humane ways to deal with pests. Ultimately, even quick kill traps are going to be more humane than bleeding out internally for these rats.”
Gage emphasized anyone who thinks their pet may have been poisoned by rodenticide needs to take the animal to a vet immediately for treatment.
One of the main issues, according to Fraser, is that poisoned rats can still live for a period of time, travelling to other farms or properties.
“Even if you kept your cat in a space where they couldn’t go very far, if [your cats] are still mousing then you’re not protected because you don’t know what that mouse has eaten,” she said.
While Fraser is uncertain if she will get another cat, she hopes people will find alternatives to deal with rat and mouse problems.
“It’s hard when it’s your pet that you love.”