Nutmeg Poisoning in Cats

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Nutmeg Poisoning

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Nutmeg Poisoning

What is Nutmeg Poisoning?

Nutmeg is a spice commonly used in sweet and savory dishes, especially in fall baking as the holidays approach. But did you know that nutmeg seeds have been used in the past as hallucinogens? Nutmeg contains a narcotic called myristicin that can be toxic to pets, including cats. The seed is also covered by veins of mace, another spice that is potentially harmful. The amount of nutmeg in pastries and pie shouldn't cause problems if your cat sneaks a bite, but if consumed in a large amount, symptoms could develop quickly and become a serious danger. High doses can even be fatal.

If you saw or suspect that your cat ate nutmeg, you should keep an eye out for any of the symptoms listed below and seek veterinary attention immediately if a poisoning may have occurred. 

Nutmeg Poisoning Average Cost

From 1506 quotes ranging from $250 - $2,000

Average Cost

$1,125

Symptoms of Nutmeg Poisoning

If you notice that your cat is developing any of these symptoms, consider whether there is a chance that they could have consumed any nutmeg. Because nutmeg is a hallucinogenic, it could be a frightening experience for your cat if ingested in very high quantitites. Symptoms can be seen as soon as three to eight hours after poisoning, and can last up to 48 hours. 

Symptoms include:

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Causes of Nutmeg Poisoning

The cause of nutmeg poisoning in cats is usually from eating prepared food containing nutmeg, but could also be from consuming it pure from your spice collection. Cats are curious creatures and may sniff or lick some off the counter while you are busy making holiday treats. 

The toxic threshold for nutmeg in cats is 5 grams. In humans, it is about 10-15 grams, which equals one teaspoon of ground nutmeg, or two or three whole nutmegs. Although it’s unlikely that your cat would consume enough nutmeg from food to cause poisoning, any amount may cause them some mild stomach upset. 

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Diagnosis of Nutmeg Poisoning

While it’s always a good idea to monitor your cat’s symptoms at home, true nutmeg poisoning (from ingesting very large amounts of nutmeg) is a medical emergency. It can be very serious and warrants a visit to your local vet for diagnosis and care. 

Although it’s impossible for a veterinarian to test your cat for all toxins, they will be able to confirm a diagnosis of nutmeg poisoning if you observed your cat consuming it. A vet will first make sure that your cat is stable before performing an examination. They may ask you when and how much nutmeg was consumed, and any symptoms you may have noticed. If your cat was poisoned from consuming human food, try to find out how much nutmeg may have been in it. They will also need information about your cat’s medical history such as vaccinations or any recent injuries or illnesses, along with their weight, breed, and age. These factors could put them at higher risk. 

As part of the examination, a vet will check your feline’s pulse, body temperature, respiration, and reflexes. They will also do some blood tests, and a urinalysis to make sure your cat’s kidneys are functioning well. The vet may also do an ECG, or electrocardiogram, to check your cat’s heart rate and electrical activity.

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Treatment of Nutmeg Poisoning

Most of the treatment options for nutmeg poisoning involve some form of detoxification, with the goal of removing as much of the spice from your feline’s body as possible. Your vet may choose a procedure based on the severity of the poisoning and the health of your cat. These are emergency procedures that should only be performed by a veterinarian.

Remove toxins

One treatment is to induce vomiting using an intravenous emetic medication, or an emetic solution taken orally. In as soon as five minutes, your cat could expel whatever is in their stomach. If it doesn't happen within 30 minutes, this procedure is unlikely to work. 

If a large amount of nutmeg was consumed, the vet may choose to perform a gastric lavage. This is where they use a tube to flush the feline’s stomach. Your cat will need to be put under general anethesia and intubated for this procedure.

Prevent toxins from being absorbed

Another treatment to detoxify your cat is using activated charcoal. This helps to bind to toxins that are already in the bloodstream and prevents it from being absorbed in the body. This can be given orally, or is done at the end of a gastric lavage procedure. 

Supportive Care 

Sometimes hospitalization is recommended so that the veterinarian can monitor your cat’s vitals and watch for seizures. Your cat may be in the hospital for 24 to 48 hours, during which time they may receive intravenous fluids or medications as needed. 

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Worried about the cost of Nutmeg Poisoning treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Recovery & Management of Nutmeg Poisoning

How well your cat recovers will depend greatly on how much they consumed and how quickly they got treatment. It could take a few days before your cat experiences a full recovery. Be sure to ask your vet about any follow-up appointments that may be necessary. 

To help prevent this in the future, avoid letting cats eat human food and keep them out of the kitchen while you’re using toxic ingredients. Some pet owners choose to feed their cats pumpkin to help with digestion, but be sure to never feed your cat pumpkin pie filling, as it sometimes contains nutmeg and other ingredients that are toxic to cats, such as allspice and cloves. 

Nutmeg poisoning can be expensive to treat. If you suspect your cat is at risk of nutmeg poisoning, start searching for pet insurance today. Wag!’s pet insurance comparison tool lets you compare plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Embrace. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!

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Cost

Cost of treating nutmeg poisoning in cats: $250-$2000

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Nutmeg Poisoning Average Cost

From 1506 quotes ranging from $250 - $2,000

Average Cost

$1,125

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Nutmeg Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Nutmeg Poisoning Average Cost

From 1506 quotes ranging from $250 - $2,000

Average Cost

$1,125

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