What is Mushroom, Mold, and Yeast Poisoning?
Eating Amanita muscaria or Amanita pantherina mushrooms will cause amatoxin poisoning, eating moldy food can cause tremorgenic mycotoxin toxicity, and eating uncooked bread dough can cause life-threatening bloat, and/or alcohol poisoning. Treatment will be dependent upon which one of these three items your cat has eaten.
Ingesting toxic mushrooms, mold, and/or yeast can cause serious and even fatal reactions in cats. Because of the particular toxins within these items, a cat that has eaten poisonous mushrooms, a moldy piece of food, or unbaked bread dough may begin staggering, appear to be confused, have tremors or seizures, vomit, have diarrhea, become bloated, or experience many other painful symptoms consistent with poisoning. Poisoning of any kind is very serious and often life-threatening, so your cat must see a veterinarian immediately.
Symptoms of Mushroom, Mold, and Yeast Poisoning in Cats
Amatoxin poisoning from eating toxic mushrooms can cause:
- Abdominal pain
- Organ failure
Tremorgenic mycotoxin toxicity from eating mold can cause:
- Walking drunk
- Hyperthermia, which is high body temperature
Eating yeast or uncooked bread dough can cause:
- Distended stomach
- Elevated heart rate
- Hypotension, or low blood pressure
- Hypothermia, or low body temperature
Causes of Mushroom, Mold, and Yeast Poisoning in Cats
While cats tend to be more discriminant eaters than dogs, some cats may be either hungry enough or curious enough to eat certain dried mushrooms, moldy food, or unbaked bread dough. Eating any of these three can cause the symptoms listed above and would be cause for immediate veterinary attention.
Cats have been known occasionally to ingest dried Amanita muscaria and Amanita pantherina, both of which are dangerous psychedelic mushrooms that can cause traumatic neurological and gastrointestinal damage and will possibly be fatal to cats.
When a cat eats food that has mold growing on it, such as food that might be found in a trash can or compost pile, chemical reactions begin within the cat’s body that can make a cat very ill or even result in death. Mold contains tremorgenic mycotoxins, which can cause behavior that mimics severe drunkenness in humans such as staggering, vomiting, and unconsciousness.
After a cat eats uncooked bread dough, the active yeast in the dough will begin to expand in the dark, moist warmth of the cat’s stomach, perhaps to the point of rupturing the cat’s stomach. In tremendous pain, the cat will attempt to expel the yeast from its stomach, which may cause choking and suffocation. If the yeast has been fermented, the alcohol will enter the cat’s bloodstream very quickly, likely causing alcohol poisoning, which results in dangerously low blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature.
Diagnosis of Mushroom, Mold, and Yeast Poisoning in Cats
While calling a pet poison hotline can be of help, if you see or suspect that your cat has eaten something poisonous or if your cat begins to show symptoms of poisoning, it is best to take your pet to a veterinarian’s office or veterinary emergency department immediately.
If at all possible, you should locate a sample of the mushroom, mold, or yeast that your cat has eaten so that you can give it to your veterinarian for identification, which can save valuable time in determining how best to treat your pet. If the vet is able to positively identify what has poisoned your cat, the vet will be able to begin appropriate treatment immediately.
The vet will ask you what the cat has eaten, how much, when it happened, and how the cat has behaved since eating the poisonous item.
Your cat will receive a thorough physical examination including measuring body temperature, blood pressure, and pulse. Blood tests may be run to measure blood sugar and other levels and the vet may induce vomiting to expel the remaining poisonous matter from the stomach, which may reveal what poisonous item the cat has ingested.
The cat will likely be kept for several hours to several days so the veterinarian can observe the cat’s behavior.
Treatment of Mushroom, Mold, and Yeast Poisoning in Cats
Immediate treatment by a veterinarian is essential when a cat has eaten toxic mushrooms, mold, or uncooked bread dough. Delaying treatment can cause pain and suffering and possibly death. When you take your cat to the vet, the doctor may:
- Induce vomiting using an emetic drug such as xylazine, which can empty up to 80% of the stomach’s contents.
- Administer activated charcoal to absorb toxins remaining in the digestive system.
- Provide intravenous hydration to replace fluid lost due to vomiting and diarrhea.
- Administer antibiotics to guard against secondary infections.
- Perform abdominal surgery to remove poisonous objects that cannot be expelled through vomiting.
Recovery of Mushroom, Mold, and Yeast Poisoning in Cats
Dependent upon how much of the poison your cat ingested and how quickly your cat receives treatment, your cat’s prognosis may be positive. If so, your cat will likely have to spend a few days at the veterinary hospital for repeated treatment and observation. You will need to make sure that the poisonous items have been removed from places where your cat can get to them. Expect your cat to be lethargic and in need of rest for several days as it recovers, and take your cat back to the vet for follow up appointments.