We've had puffer fish for a while, off and on. They are adorable little intelligent fish who respond when you walk in the room and their mouths look like little smiles. They are just so freakin' cute with their round bodies and little fins. Well, Monday night one of our puffers was looking a little off. I put him and the other puffer in an isolation tank just for the night until I could go to an aquarium store in the morning. I thought I had the lid secured properly (I am kicking myself about this, believe me!).
Well, the cat got the fish sometime in the early morning hours. She didn't eat the fish, just played with them (not that that's any better of an end for the adorable fish, but...) Apparently puffer fish have a potent neurotoxin in their skin and organs. I did not know that puffers were poisonous, I never would have even let them in our house. Our kitty nearly died. In the morning, we found her mostly paralyzed, with tremors, dilated pupils, a very low body temperature, and heavily panting. We rushed her to the vet and the vet did not think it looked good, but admitted that this sort of thing was pretty much unheard of in the veterinary world (puffer fish poisoning). She was put on fluids and a heating pad, and simply monitored for the duration of the poisoning. This morning, the vet says that she is looking good and is finally out of the woods. I really don't even care about the $400 spent on her care, as she is absolutely the most awesome cat ever (even cat-hating DH adores her. In fact, he's the one that picked her out at the shelter) but I am upset that I never did the research, didn't secure the lid adequately, and was never told by the pet store that they were extremely toxic.
So...if you have puffer fish, or are thinking of getting one, please make absolute 100% sure that there is no way a pet or a child can come in contact with them. The tetrodotoxin in puffer fish is estimated to be 1000 times deadlier than cyanide. Green spotted puffers and figure eight puffers are the ones commonly sold in pet stores.