Cat Poisoning: How to Recognize It and Handle It

There are no specific symptoms to know for sure if your cat was poisoned. On the contrary, poisoning is usually just one of many possible reasons for the appearance of certain symptoms in your cat.
Cat Poisoning: How to Recognize It and Handle It

Last update: 27 June, 2019

Felines are cunning and their senses are highly sophisticated; a lot sharper than ours, for sure. However, they’re no strangers to temptation and may sometimes eat or drink spoiled or toxic things. So, if you have a cat then you should know how to recognize the signs of cat poisoning.

Cats are highly cautious but also very curious, hence the old proverb: “curiosity killed the cat.” So, because of this, you should learn to prevent and recognize the symptoms of poisoning. We’ll tell you all we know about it in this article so you know what to do.

Neglect and curiosity = cat poisoning

Like any other living being, cats are likely to make costly mistakes and end up poisoned. Yes, they’re suspicious and wary careful animals (a lot more so than dogs), but they’re also quite curious and want to explore everything around them. Unfortunately for them, their research doesn’t always end up well.

As we said above, cats may end up intoxicated, injured or poisoned by their inclination to find out more about everything. The good news is that we, as owners, can prevent it from happening. Or, at least, we can act quickly and take them to the vet in an emergency so that it’s not fatal. There are also some procedures you can carry out at home or in the car while you make the trip from your home to the vet.

First of all, you should know what toxins and poisons can affect a feline: acetylsalicylic acid, paracetamol, chocolate, arsenic, bleach, chlorine, pesticides, poisonous plants, and poisonous insects.

A cat lying on a bed.

All the above products contain enzymes and chemicals that are toxic to cats. Their organisms just cannot metabolize them. To find out if you have a case of cat poisoning you must pay close attention to certain symptoms. The most common are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (sometimes with blood)
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Skin irritation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Gastritis
  • Muscle spasms, tremors and/or seizures
  • Weakness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Difficulty coordinating their extremities
  • Frequent urination
  • Loss of consciousness

First aid in the poisoning of cats

If you detect one or more of the symptoms indicated above, then you must act accordingly. It’s very important that you take the cat to your veterinarian, but it’s also important that you stabilize the animal.

Furthermore, you should collect all of the necessary evidence for the doctor to review and analyze. For example, if you realize your cat drank water with bleach, then you’ll have to tell the vet this information (rather obvious, but important!)

It’s always better for two people to help an animal. While one calls the vet and gets information the other can stabilize him. Acting quickly is crucial when it comes to cat poisoning.

If the cat is very weak, unconscious or nearly unconscious, then transfer it to a well lit, ventilated area (outside, for example). The fresh air can revive them a bit. In addition, other symptoms will be more evident under better lighting. Lift them carefully but firmly. Furthermore, if you don’t have easy access to an external environment, then use the bathroom or the kitchen, near to a source of clean water.

If you know the source of poisoning, then remove it as soon as possible in order to prevent anyone else from being affected. Before you do this, take a sample to bring along to the vet so they know the exact amount of chemicals or toxic substances.

Calling a vet will also help you relax as, in many cases, they’ll tell you exactly what to do, how to do it, and even what not to do. The sooner you communicate with the vet, the greater the cat’s chances of survival.

The vet and cat poisoning

A playful kitten looking at the camera.

One of the first questions the veterinarian will ask you is about the source of poisoning. Try to find out before you go there so they can make a quicker diagnosis and prescribe the appropriate treatment. If possible, be ready to tell them the name of the product, its active ingredient, and potency. Even the possible amount ingested by the animal.

While you’re waiting for the vet, don’t give any food or liquids to the cat (unless the doctor specifically tells you to do so beforehand). Since you’re not entirely sure what you’re dealing with in a situation like this, then perhaps a home remedy could have the opposite effect and make things worse.

Once your pet gets treatment, observe and analyze their recovery. Needless to say, remove anything that may lead to cat poisoning in the future.

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The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.