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Symptoms of Cat Poisoning

Cat poisonings are rare, but they do happen on occasion. From household cleaners to toxic house plants, our Modesto vets explain some common substances that are poisonous to cats, and what to do if you think your cat has been poisoned.

Cat Poisoning

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. 

Household Substances That Are Poisonous To Cats

There are a huge number of everyday items that are extremely toxic to cats. If you have any of the items listed below in your home, be sure to 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

Secondary Rodenticide Exposure

A common concern of cat owners is what happens if a cat eats a poisoned mouse.

In rare cases, cats can experience secondary poisoning after eating a poisoned mouse. When mice consume a poison, it can take a couple of days to take effect, so your cat could be hunting a poisoned mouse and not know it. 

When a cat eats a mouse or other rodent that has consumed baited poison, the chances are good that there is not enough poison in the rodent's body to harm a healthy adult cat. That said, if the cat is very young, very old, or has underlying health problems there may be health repercussions. It should also be noted that if your cat eats several poisoned mice your cat may also become unwell, however, it is believed that the number of mice consumed would need to be substantial. 

If your cat has eaten a poisoned mouse contact your vet, or your nearest emergency vet, right away for specific instructions based on your cat's unique circumstances.

Signs & Symptoms of Poisoning in Cats

There's a vast range of substances that are toxic 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
  • Diarrhoea
  • 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 To Do If Your Cat Shows Signs Of Poisoning

If you see your cat consuming a toxic substance or your cat is showing signs of poisoning call your 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). 

Diagnosis & Treatment of Poisoning in Cats

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 concerned that your cat has been poisoned? Contact our Modesto vets right away to book an urgent examination for your kitty.

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