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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Alpha-chloralose poisoning in cats: clinical findings in 25 confirmed and 78 suspected cases

Tegner, Cecilia; Lundgren, Sandra; Dreimanis, Kristoffer; Aberg, Annica Tevell; Windahl, Ulrika


Objectives The aim of this study was to describe the clinical picture in cats with alpha-chloralose (AC) intoxication and to confirm AC in serum from suspected cases of AC poisoning. Methods Suspected cases of AC poisoning were identified in patient records from a small animal university hospital from January 2014 to February 2020. Clinical signs of intoxication described in respective records were compiled, the cats were graded into four intoxication severity scores and hospitalisation time and mortality were recorded. Surplus serum from select cases in late 2019 and early 2020 was analysed to detect AC with a quantitative ultra-high performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry analysis, and the AC concentration was compared with the respective cat's intoxication severity score. Results Serum from 25 cats was available for analysis and AC poisoning was confirmed in all. Additionally, 78 cats with a clinical suspicion of AC intoxication were identified in the patient records, most of which presented from September to April. The most common signs of intoxication were ataxia, tremors, cranial nerve deficits and hyperaesthesia. The prevalence of clinical signs and intoxication severity differed from what has previously been reported, with our population presenting with less severe signs and no deaths due to intoxication. The majority had a hospitalisation time <48 h, irrespective of intoxication severity score. Conclusions and relevance This study describes the clinical signs and prognosis in feline AC intoxication. There were no mortalities in confirmed cases, indicating that AC-poisoned cats have an excellent prognosis when treated in a timely manner. Recognition of AC intoxication as a differential diagnosis for acute onset of the described neurological signs in areas where AC exposure is possible may influence clinical decision-making and help avoid excessive diagnostic procedures. A severe clinical picture upon presentation could be misinterpreted as a grave prognosis and awareness about AC poisoning may avoid unnecessary euthanasia.


Alpha-chloralose; poisoning; intoxication; toxicosis; rodenticide

Published in

Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery
2022, Volume: 24, number: 10, pages: e324 –e329