Sticky Stinky Cat
February 6, 2005 2:47 AM   Subscribe

CatFilter: Kitty + Nasty chemicals = Disaster. More inside.

Last night my cat came inside (he is mostly an indoor cat, but he likes to sit in the garden for awhile at night) smelling of paint remover and with a thick, nasty-smelling residue on his paws (mainly on one back paw). It seems he managed to stand in a half-open and almost empty can of the stuff that was left in our garden yesterday after my dad was working with it. (I was not aware that it was left like this.)

We called the emergency vet who said that he would probably be OK, to try to get as much of the stuff off his paws as possible and to watch for any signs that he might have ingested any of it. I got him in the shower last night and got some of it off, but not all. It definitely stills smells strongly and he keeps trying to lick his paw, but he's not acting any different than usual and he's eating and drinking normally.

I'm wondering if there's any other way to get this stuff off. I'm mostly worried because he's pretty old - 14, though in good general health, except for some arthritis in same paw that he stood in the paint remover with (which he doesn't like being touched, much less washed). No need for lectures about leaving unsecured chemicals in the open - that's already been taken care of!
posted by eatcherry to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
I don't have advice, but I do hope things work out ok for him. It sounds like you've done all you can, and you know that cat digestion is remarkably resilient. Best of luck. Biscotti?
posted by lackutrol at 2:53 AM on February 6, 2005

Watch his behavior, certainly, which you seem to be doing anyway. Googling seems to show that there is a risk of chemical burns. I read somewhere once that cooking oil (Canola, I guess, or whatever) might remove paint, so you can give it a try.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:32 AM on February 6, 2005

Whenever I can, I use mechanic's hand cleaner instead of mineral spirits (paint thinner) to remove paint, tar, oil, grease, etc. from my own body on the theory that it is less toxic. It is even available in "natural orange". It works. However, I'm sure your veterinarian will be able to give you the best advice.
posted by Hobgoblin at 6:45 AM on February 6, 2005

I'd rinse the paw in a strong solution of dish liquid, then rinse in water. Its just the paw, I would hope you could get your cat to....well, make the cat just deal with it. Mostly you just need to get detergent to grab the crap and carry it out of your cat's fur.

I don't think the cat would injest much off his paw, I'm fairly sure the taste would keep him out of it!
posted by Goofyy at 7:50 AM on February 6, 2005

It might be worthwhile to call poison control. I think they often know about animal poisonings too. I would consider bandaging up the paws so he doesn't lick them. Maybe shaving the fur so there's less there to lick?
posted by duck at 8:08 AM on February 6, 2005

Best answer: Wow, tough one. The smell/taste won't keep him off it if he's like most cats, having something stuck to their paw trumps any ick factor for most cats. Their feet are their survival.

I wouldn't bandage them, bandages often cause more problems than they cure (including causing gangrene if not maintained), and that still won't solve the problem.

I might do what Hobgoblin and Goofyy suggest and try to scrub it off, I might also see what a person would use to remove it from their skin and use that. Whatever you use, be sure to wash with a mild dish soap afterward and rinse rinse rinse.
posted by biscotti at 8:58 AM on February 6, 2005

Response by poster: Yes, he's pretty determined to lick, though we're stopping him anytime we see but, well, cats being cats, he's not paying much attention. The vet said to use dish soap and/or shampoo and we've used both (fyi: paint remover and herbal essences - not a pleasant combo) and the worst of it seems to be off. I guess we'll just have to lather, rinse, repeat for awhile. He's still eating and drinking normally, which I suppose is the most important thing. He seems a bit cranky, but I'm hoping that's just from us annoying him with the water and the scrubbing, etc. than anything else, though I'm keeping an eye on him.
posted by eatcherry at 9:10 AM on February 6, 2005

At the risk of making him crankier, you could try covering that foot with something (plastic baggie?). I realize the chances of it staying on are slim, and it will certaily piss him off. If you're really worried about more ingestion, though, it might be worth a try.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:27 PM on February 6, 2005

I think disaster is a bit of an overstatement here. My family has had cats walk through paint and other nasty things on several occasions, and we would make a reasonable effort to clean them up, before they tracked it all over the place and then cleaned it off themselves. Yes, it was impossible to get all the paint out from between their toes. No, we didn't notice any ill effects.
posted by hashashin at 11:42 PM on February 7, 2005

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