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Ivermectin toxicity in a cat.

Species: Cat
Breed: common
Age: 3-6 months
My kitten and I live in Democractic Republic of Congo. Today, a vet administered an Ivermectin vaccine. Pungu did well at first but is now ataxic, non-responsive, vomited, loss control of bladder, and difficult to get a response to vigorous rubbing. I need home treatment. The road has been washed out and I am unable to get to the town where the vet lives.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I am sorry to hear that your cat is suffering from ivermectin toxicity. The symptoms certainly sound like this is what is happening.

In my country we don't often administer ivermectin to cats. It's hard to say whether Pungu is being affected because he got too high a dose. We know that some *dogs* can be overly sensitive to ivermectin and so it is possible that this is the case in some cats as well.

Ivermectin can affect the central nervous system. So, when an animal gets ivermectin toxicity we see tremors, seizures and other neurological symptoms. If Pungu is non-responsive this is a very very poor sign. The condition can definitely be fatal.

You are very limited in what you can do at home. In a veterinary hospital we would be administering intravenous fluids and anti-seizure medications. If an animal is going to recover then it can sometimes take several days for this to happen. I have heard of one case where a cat was in a coma in the hospital for 2 weeks before recovering.

Here are some things that you can do to help, but ultimately if there is a way to get him to a veterinary clinic this would be his best chance at survival.

Keep him warm. If you have a thermometer at home, the best way to take his temperature is rectally using some vaseline or KY jelly as a lubricant. Or, if you prefer not to do that you can put the thermometer in his armpit although this is not as accurate. Normal temperature for a cat is between 38-39 C or 100-102 F. To keep Pungu warm you can wrap him in a warm blanket if he will tolerate this, or fill up a large bottle with warm water, cover it with a blanket and place him next to it. Be careful that it is not too hot against his skin.

If he is unresponsive, then turning him over every hour or so will help.

If he regains some consciousness then you can try getting small amounts of water into him using a syringe or turkey baster. It is important for him to stay hydrated. But don't force water into him if he is unconscious.

Unfortunately there really aren't any medications that you can administer that are going to help.

I fear that with the symptoms you have described he may not do well. I pray that I am wrong.

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

I followed your advice and Pungu was doing much better by late evening. This morning Pungu is back to her playful self - running around and has a good appiete. In the DRC we must do what we can ourselves and hope for the best. I appreciate your service.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Oh, I am thrilled to hear that Pungu is feeling better! Thank you for updating me.

Dr. Marie



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.