Table of Contents
What is it?
Food poisoning usually refers to the infection of an animal or human, via food, with Salmonella organisms, E. coli or with other bacteria that have similar effects. Cats are much more susceptible than dogs; in fact they can quite easily die of infection with Salmonella. This species difference is hardly surprising, when one views the evolutionary niche of each species.
Cats in the wild tend to catch and eat live prey. This means that their natural food is always fresh. Dogs rely more on ‘carrion’ and dead flesh. To have arrived at this capability, dogs had to acquire mechanisms that protected them from the ill-effects of eating decomposing meat. They have a very acid stomach and a ready ability to vomit food that is unacceptable, before it does harm.
How does it occur?
Food-poisoning usually occurs through poor food hygiene in the home. A deplorable fact of modern life, however, is that raw meats, such as chicken, come to the house carrying a heavy load of food-poisoning bacteria. This is a sad comment on modern methods of husbandry, slaughter and processing. Organic chicken is much less likely to carry the organisms, since there is not the prevalence of antibiotics in the rearing system. It can, however, still be contaminated in processing plants, in which they may share facilities with other infected carcases.
Re-heated rice can also represent a risk, if not stored and re-cooked at the correct temperature or if stored for too long (Bacillus cereus)
Food items that have been thawed and re-frozen can also be risky.
Is it responsive to treatment?
Assuming that there has not been a catastrophic decline in health and vitality, too rapid for any veterinary intervention, homeopathic medicine can usually very successfully rid an animal of Salmonella infection and deal with the toxic ill-effects.
In the kitchen, damp cloths and damp wooden chopping boards can not only harbour but also multiply infective bacteria. The use of disinfectants in food areas is neither effective nor wise. Disinfectant-impregnated chopping boards and cloths are not common sense, since they encourage resistant strains of bacteria and are potentially toxic in themselves. Clean and dry materials are the best defence, so hygienic washing up and excellent draining and drying techniques, before putting things away, are vital. Surfaces should be kept clean and allowed to dry thoroughly. Wooden chopping boards should be well-scrubbed and allowed to drain and dry properly.
Cat food and water dishes should be ceramic or china and should be kept very clean.
It is true that tinned or dried food does not carry this risk (unless manufacturing or packaging errors occur or unless a can or sachet is left open for to long) making it tempting to use processed food for your cats, despite the other health penalties that may follow this policy, as opposed to feeding wholesome fresh food. Each person must make a decision, based on personal circumstance and philosophy.