Did A Himalayan Salt Lamp Really Poison A Cat?

If you follow animal or veterinary accounts on social media, you've probably seen the viral story about a cat named Ruby who was reportedly poisoned-and nearly fatally so--after she took to licking her human's Himalayan salt lamp.

But is this story actually true? I dug into this story and here's what I can tell you . . .

Did a cat really nearly die from a Himalayan salt lamp?
Investigating the story of Ruby, the cat who supposedly suffered sodium poisoning from her owner's Himalayan salt lamp.

Back in June a veterinary hospital in New South Wales, Australia, passed along a second-hand story about a cat named Ruby. Ruby, who lives in New Zealand,  was reportedly treated for dangerously high sodium levels from, her human claimed, licking a salt lamp. The high sodium caused Ruby's brain to swell, leading to a host of neurological problems.

Ruby was successfully treated and will recover, it is said, but the tale should serve as a warning to pet owners. Or so the story goes.

This story raised a few red flags for me--the main one being that the veterinary clinic being used as a source in media reports is a completely unrelated clinic in a completely different country.

Another red flag was that the story has been largely ignored by the major news outlets and is being covered mostly by blogs that specialize in creating and sharing sensational, viral content.

But does a viral story automatically mean that it's a hoax? In this case, no. The story is apparently true. The veterinary clinic that treated Ruby confirms that the cat was treated for severe neurological issues blamed on dangerously high sodium.  (The doctors, of course, have to take the owner's word that the sodium came from a Himalayan salt lamp.)

Cases like Ruby's are apparently rare but they do happen. And on a similar note, the ASPCA actually lists salt doughs (like your child or grandchild might make in elementary school art class) as a leading cause of seizure in dogs.