Poisoning in Cats - How to Recognize If My Cat Has Been Poisoned?

As pet parents, we do everything we can to try to help keep our furry companions safe. Unfortunately, we need to expect the unexpected and be prepared for when the unexpected happens. In this post, our La Mesa vets discuss poisoning in cats and what items could potentially leave our feline friends poisoned and needing veterinary attention.

Poisoning in Cats: How it Happens

Due to their compact size, when cats encounter even small amounts of poisonous substances they can quickly become very ill. Their excessive attention to cleanliness means that the most common cause of poisoning in cats is ingestion by licking toxic substances off their fur while they're grooming themselves. Unlike dogs, cats are typically very fussy eaters and it is uncommon for cats to consume a poisonous food product unless it's mixed in with their food. 

What Household Items Are Poisonous to Cats?

There are a huge number of everyday items that are highly toxic to cats. If you have any of the items listed below in your home, store them out of your cat's reach, and never give your cat medications without consulting your veterinarian first. 

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

What Are Some Signs of Poisoning in Cats?

There's a vast range of toxic substances to cats, and symptoms of poisoning will depend on the nature of the substance and whether it has been ingested, inhaled, or come in contact with your cat's skin. Here are some of the most common signs that your cat has been poisoned:

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

What Should You Do if Your Cat Has Been Poisoned?

If you see your cat consuming a toxic substance or your cat is showing signs of poisoning call your vet or an after-hours emergency vet immediately. To help your vet make the quickest diagnosis possible, bring along as much information about the product as possible, (ie: product label, leaf off of plant, sample of the food). 

How is Poisoning in Cats Treated?

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, your vet can run a series of tests to assess your cat's condition.

Recovery from poisoning will greatly depend on how much of the poisonous substance your cat has been exposed to and how quickly you have gotten them to the vet for treatment. Outcomes for cats who receive early treatment for poisoning are much better than for cats who experience a long delay before receiving treatment. 

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.

Are you worried that your cat may have been poisoned? Contact our La Mesa vets immediately.