Salt Lamps and Cats – The Dangers

This past weekend there was a 3 year old boy missing from an area not too far from where I live. The search efforts were reported on the news and it spread rapidly across social media. 

The weather was atrocious, raining, cold and windy. Plus he was lost in dense bushland and as the day ended the thought of approaching darkness made everything worse.  The community as a whole were seriously very worried about this little boy.  

The story did have a happy ending and the little boy was found safe and well by a relative which was really heart-warming and everyone gave a collective sigh of relief.

The thought of something happening to our loved ones is something none of us want to confront.

While this was about a little boy and his family I think I can safely say that pet owners too have similar feelings of dread when a beloved family pet is for whatever reason not up to par.

You never think these things will happen to you but sometimes they do

Himalayan Salt Lamp Warning

As much as we like to think we have everything under control, things do still happen.

Maddie Smith's situation with her cat in New Zealand illustrates this point. To quote Maddie

We woke up on Wednesday morning to our darling Ruby walking really strangely and had her head in an odd position as she walked. We initially thought this was just because she was so cold so we got her nice and toasty and left for work as usual. Wednesday afternoon Clayton arrived home from work and she had deteriorated dramatically so we rushed her to the vets.
The vets were extremely concerned for her and could see she definitely had neurological problems because she simply could not walk properly, could not hear or see, couldn’t even eat or drink properly because she couldn’t function her tongue the best. Her basic senses and abilities GONE in 12 hours. She was so helpless 
So the vets ran some tests and they were all good, no worries. Until her bloods arrived back this morning, and she had extremely high sodium levels in her blood. So this severe salt poisoning had caused her brain to swell, and ultimately the neurological problems that followed.
The salt poisoning was caused by just your normal salt lamp that we had in our lounge, Ruby has ingested the salt by simply licking the lamp (we didn’t realise obviously). This is usually more common in dogs so this was a huge shock, and their first case they have seen with a cat. Salt poisoning is EXTREMELY deadly to animals and she is basically a miracle to still be here now. These salt lamps are addictive to animals, and if they get a taste it becomes just like potato chips are to us! So please please keep these out of reach from your fur babies. 

What Are Himalayan Salt Lamps?

Salt lamps are carved from Himalayan rock salt, They are hollowed out in the middle allowing a space for a light globe to be inserted .

Salt Lamps have become hugely popular in recent years as they have a range of purported health benefits. The health claims are discussed in this article.

The salt lamps are popular as gifts as apart from the reported health benefits they emit a peaceful amber glow and as such make a lovely addition to the home. 

salt lamps lit to show amber glow

Amber glow from Himalayan Salt Lamp.

The only time you really need to be careful of using a salt lamp is if you have cats or dogs.

This is because cats like to lick the salt as Maddie’s cat did. Dogs are not exempt from this and also like to lick salt lamps. This can lead to dangerous levels of salt in the blood and salt toxicity.

Is Salt Toxic To Cats?

Salt lamps can cause salt toxicity in cats and dogs if the animal licks the lamp. Most of us use salt in our cooking on a regular basis without giving any thought to or perhaps knowing that salt is toxic to cats.

Common Signs Of salt Toxicity In cats

The Pet Poison Help Line outlines the following signs of salt toxicity.

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Decreased appetite

  • Lethargy

  • Incoordination

  • Excessive thirst or urination

  • Tremors

  • Seizures

  • Coma

I have made homemade playdough too many times to count and it does contain a lot of salt.  If you have a cat keep him away from having a nibble at the playdough.

It is unlikely to happen but far better to be aware of the consequences even if the cat totally turns up his cute nose at playdough.

Will Salt Lamps Hurt Cats?

Cats are far more likely to be affected than dogs as they can access areas where the salt lamp may be placed.  If you think the salt lamp is safely tucked away on a high shelf your cat may still be able to access that area.

When the body has a big excess of salt, the kidneys can no longer return the blood volume to normal by excreting the excess sodium in urine. This will lead to muscle and nerve dysfunction. The brain is very sensitive to changes in salt so the first signs of too much salt are usually neurological, as Maddie described with her cat, Ruby.

With prompt attention from the vet as illustrated in Maddie's situation the cat can make a recovery. 

If you suspect salt poisoning it is necessary to get medical attention from a veterinarian immediately.

Have you got a salt lamp and did you know they could be toxic for cats? Salt lamps and cats are not a good combination.

Cat Shaped Himalayan Salt Lamp

If you are looking for a cat shaped Himalayan salt lamp, that is of course quite okay.  Just don’t let any real cats come too close.

It is up to us as cat owners to know or at least have a comprehensive reference guide to check regarding what a cat should not eat.

This detailed list outlines what is not okay for a cat to eat and the consequences. Bookmark it for future quick reference.

Salt Lamp warning for cat owners

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