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Signs & Symptoms of Poisoning in Cats

Signs & Symptoms of Poisoning in Cats

While cat poisonings are relatively rare, they do happen. From household cleaners to toxic house plants, here's more from our Plains emergency vets on substances that are poisonous to cats, and what to do if you suspect your cat has been poisoned.

How does cat poisoning happen?

Due to a cat's compact size, when they encounter even small amounts of poisonous substances cat's can quickly become very ill. In fact, their keen attention to cleanliness means that the most common cause of poisoning in cats is ingestion by licking toxic substances off their fur and paws while grooming. Because cats, (unlike dogs), are typically very fussy eaters, it is uncommon for a cat to consume a poisonous substance unless it's mixed in with their food. 

Which household substances are poisonous to cats?

There are vast number of everyday items that are extremely toxic to cats. If you have any of the items listed below in your home make sure that they are stored out of your cat's reach, and never give your cat medications without consulting your veterinarian. 

  • Antifreeze 
  • Bleach
  • Pest control chemicals
  • Weed killers
  • Detergent 
  • Disinfectants
  • Acetaminophen  (painkiller)
  • Spring flowering bulbs
  • Lilies
  • Ibuprofen (painkiller)
  • Dog flea and tick medications
  • Salt Lamps
  • Xylitol
  • Garlic
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Grapes
  • Onions

What are the signs and symptoms of poisoning in cats?

The symptoms of poisoning in cats depends on the nature of the toxic substance and whether it has been ingested, inhaled, or come in contact with your cat's skin. Some of the most common signs that your cat may have been poisoned include:

  • Shock or collapse
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Twitching or seizure
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Salivation / Drooling
  • Skin inflammation or swelling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Depression / Lethargy
  • Coma
  • Unsteady gait
  • Excessive drinking, urinating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Overall weakness
  • Fever

What should I do if my cat shows signs of poisoning?

If you think that your cat may have consumed a toxic substance, or your cat is showing signs of poisoning call your vet, or our Plains emergency veterinary hospital immediately. To help your veterinarian make the quickest diagnosis possible, bring along as much information about the product as possible such as the product label, leaf off of plant, or a sample of the food. If your cat is vomiting, it can be helpful to bring a sample of the vomit along with you for the vet to analyse. 

Depending on how your cat has been poisoned, diagnosis and treatment will vary. The more information you can provide your vet the better. If you don't know what has caused your cat to become ill, the vet can run a series of tests to assess your cat's overall condition.

Your cat's recovery from poisoning will greatly depend upon how much of the poisonous substance they were exposed to and how quickly you have gotten them to the vet for treatment. Outcomes for cats that receive early diagnosis and treatment for poisoning are much better than for cats who experience a long delay before treatment begins. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your cat is displaying symptoms of poisoning, or if you see your cat consuming a toxic substance contact your primary care veterinarian immediately or take your cat to the nearest emergency animal hospital. Contact Northeast Veterinary Referral Hospital in Plains, we offer 24/7 emergency services for cats and dogs in the Northeast Pennsylvania area. 

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