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What is Poisoning?

Poisons, especially insecticides or rat poisons, are fast acting as the molecules attach to the blood cells and spread throughout the body. Poisons affect the feline body in different ways depending on the active ingredient. Some toxins attack the blood cells, causing internal bleeding, others target the central nervous system, affecting the brain and the heart, whereas other poisons target the organs, slowly shutting each vital organ down. Poisoning in cats is always an emergency situation that must be treated as soon as possible by a veterinary professional. Cat owners that wait to seek medical attention or attempt to treat the poisoning at home without veterinary consult risk the possibility of sudden death. 

Poisoning in cats involves the ingestion, absorption, or inhalation of a toxic substance. Plants, medications, insecticides, chemicals and even human food products can poison a feline. If you witness your cat coming into contact with or ingesting a product you know to be toxic, you can find medical care before the poison spread throughout the body. Unfortunately, the majority of cat poisoning cases occur when the owner is not present and the only way a pet owner would be alerted is with the exhibition of symptoms. Felines who have been poisoned will likely begin to salivate profusely from the mouth, its behavior may change from calm to anxious or excited, and the cat may begin to vomit. Depending on the type of toxin, a feline could quickly go into shock, seizing and losing consciousness within a few hours.

Poisoning Average Cost

From 535 quotes ranging from $200 - $15,000

Average Cost

$2,500

Symptoms of Poisoning in Cats

The symptoms of poisoning in cats depends on the active ingredient the toxin contains, but the majority of poisons will cause gastrointestinal distress, neurological changes, and labored respiratory signs. 

  • Vomiting (with or without blood)
  • Diarrhea (with or without blood) 
  • Excessive salivation (drooling) 
  • Coughing 
  • Labored breathing
  • Sneezing 
  • Rapid breathing 
  • Skin swelling or inflammation 
  • Depression 
  • Excitability 
  • Incoordination or unsteady gait
  • Tremors
  • Seizures 
  • Coma
  • Anemia 
  • Fever 
  • Signs of kidney failure, such as polydipsia (increased thirst)  
  • Signs of liver failure, such as jaundice (yellowing of the skin) 
  • Increased heart rate
  • Abdominal pain 

Types 

Insecticides & rodenticides

  • Rat baits
  • Ant baits
  • Permethrin (insecticides)
  • Metaldehyde (snail and slug repellent)

Chemicals & Household products

  • Antifreeze or ethylene glycol 
  • Fertilizers (containing potassium K, phosphorus and nitrogen) 
  • Lead paint 
  • Bleach 
  • Detergent 
  • Disinfectants

Plants 

  • Schefflera 
  • Pothos
  • Lilies 
  • Ivy
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Autumn Crocus 
  • Amaryllis 
  • Yew
  • Tulips 

Medications

  • Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • Ibuprofen 
  • Aspirin
  • Antidepressant medications 
  • Muscle relaxants 
  • ADHD medication
  • Diet pills 
  • Cancer drugs

Foods

  • Baker’s Chocolate 
  • Artificial sweeteners 
  • Xylitol 
  • Caffeine 
  • Alcohol  
  • Garlic 
  • Onions 
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Causes of Poisoning in Cats

Due to the excessive cleanliness in the nature of a feline, the most common cause of poisoning in cats is ingestion by licking a toxin off the fur. It is not very common for a feline to consume a poisonous food product, unless it is mixed in with her food. Cats do have a tendency to chew on decorative house plants, as indoor cats do not have the opportunity to ease stomach nausea through the consumption of grass, causing plant toxicity. Inhalation of chemicals, such as cleaning products, can cause poisoning in cats if the cat is present as the owner cleans with a high fume chemical agent. 

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Diagnosis of Poisoning in Cats

Your veterinarian will be able to deduce a diagnosis of poisoning in a cat rather quickly, based on physical signs and symptoms. If you have witnessed the poisoning or suspect what the toxin could be (a chocolate wrapper by the feline or chewed plant, for example), bring the box, product label, wrapper or sample of the item with you to the veterinary office. Knowing exactly what active ingredient caused the poisoning will help the veterinarian choose a treatment plan and your cat will be on her way to recovery much faster. Poisoning cases can become deadly in a very short time, so your veterinarian may do a quick review of your cat’s medical history but you may not be present at this time.

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Treatment of Poisoning in Cats

Treatment of poisoning in cats depends on the type of toxin the feline came into contact with. Possible treatment options your veterinarian could prescribe include: 

  • An administration of ethanol (in cases of antifreeze poisoning) 
  • Fluid therapy (to help to flush the toxin from the body) 
  • Muscle relaxants (for tremors)
  • Anti-seizure medication
  • Induce vomiting 
  • Activated charcoal (an agent that binds with the toxin and prevents it from being absorbed by the body), used in poisonings that cause internal bleeding or corrosion of the esophagus if vomiting is induced. 
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Recovery of Poisoning in Cats

The prognosis for poisoning in cats depends greatly on timing. The sooner your cat finds medical attention, the sooner treatment can begin and the less time the toxin has to spread throughout the body. Cats who receive treatment early will return to their normal selves in a few days with an excellent prognosis. Ask your veterinarian about poisoning in cats for the future and find out who you should call, as well as at-home tips you can use in an emergency situation.

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Poisoning Average Cost

From 535 quotes ranging from $200 - $15,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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short haired cat

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Foaming At The Mouth

My mother put a sleeping pill in our cats mouth for her personal amusement and she refuses to call animal poisoning control so we cant do anything to help her she has been foaming at the mouth since

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That sounds quite awful, and I'm not sure how I can help over an email. Your cat likely needs medical attention, and it would be best to have her seen at an ER right away.

Aug. 7, 2020

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Cat

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating

My cat won't eat any thing and she was poisoned with flea meds s but in recovery now I am feeding her with a syringe but when will she want to eat by her self

Aug. 4, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello I'm sorry to see that your cat had an issue with flea medications. You can syringe her for 1-2 days but after that she should be eating on her own. You can offer her a small amount of wet food in a bowl and see if she will eat or lick it off your finger. Good luck.

Aug. 4, 2020

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dog-breed-icon

cat

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Five Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

cat is vomiting might have eaten a roach

July 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, Eating bugs can cause cats to vomit. If it was just once you can watch her and see if she gets better. If this continues, it would be best to see your vet for vomiting medication. This could even be a hairball that she is trying to vomit up. I hope your cat starts to feel better soon

July 26, 2020

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Feline Kitten breed unknown

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6 weeks

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Dilated Eyes Unstable Seems Confused

Kittens got into the dog food which had ivermectin in it to treat for worms. Dog food was mixed to be put out for the dogs but the kittens got into it before it was put out. Kittens all have dilated eyes and seem excited and want to eat as much food as they can get all kittens are showing the same symptoms with the exception of one which is very unstable and can't fully stand is still eating but seems lathargic at times. kittens are 4 and 7 weeks old mother is a stray wasn't taking care of them ended up with them in the house. I am keeping food and water down what else? Vet is not an option.

July 21, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. An overdose of ivermectin can be fatal. The kittens may die from the dose of ivermectin that they received if it was too high. There are no home remedies to help with this, Other than to hope that they recover. If you are not able to seek veterinary care for them, that is, unfortunately, what you can do. I hope that all goes well.

July 21, 2020

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British Shorthair

dog-age-icon

Two Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Rapid Breathing

hello. My cat had a prophylaxis and teeth extraction around 12 noon. He was injected with antibiotics as well. I was instructed to give him 1 capsule Tramadol 50mg. I was not informed that it should be given tomorrow. I gave it at 7:30 in the evening today. Now my cat is salivating, won't drink water, has rapid breathing and is very agitated. What should I do about this? His vet said that I should just observe for 24 hours but I'm not comfortable doing that. Is my cat in pain? Has he overdosed? Many thanks in advance.

July 10, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, Tramadol is very bitter tasting and most cats hate this medication. This may be the cause of all the signs that he is showing. If he does not start to improve, it would be best for your vet to look at him again. Some cats will be a little painful for a few days after this procedure.

July 10, 2020

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Charlie

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Reg. House cat

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Took my cat for a walk on a leash in my backyard, as soon as we were there he stared chewing on the weeds, Grass and almost immediately began choking, then he vomited a few pieces of grass, but it’s been just laying there and if he eats something, immediately vomits again, he’s been laying on my lap sleeping, he seems hurting, sick, What can I do? I’m retired on low income, so if I go to the emergency vet, I won’t have much money to pay..and it’s 1:00 in the morning now...

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Leia

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Mixed breed

dog-age-icon

6 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Breathing Difficulty
Salivation
Laboured Breathing

My cat ingested detergent by grooming herself. She had since then salivated excessively just on that day. She's also been coughing and vomited once. Due to the Corona situation,vets in my country are closed and there aren't really any emergency pet care here. What do I do?

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Angel

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Part siamese

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Dehydration, Lethargic, Vomiting

A couple days ago, my pet sitter alerted me that she thought my chihuahua was sick because he threw up "grass" and he was the only one allowed outside. Now that I am home, my cat's eye's look weird and I have noticed the flowers that my boyfriend got me for Valentine's (lillies included) are partially, either gone, or wilted. It looks like my cat's eyes have a second eyelid? Maybe from dehydration? I am very nervous he has ingested the lillies. Has anyone seen this before?

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Loki

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Feline

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Unknown

A friend of mine came home to find her cat dead under her bed. The cat had been bleeding from the mouth and there was a dried puddle of blood. Anybody have any idea of what could have caused this?

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Marley

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tabby

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness

My one year old Maine Coon mix ate a tiny piece of paper that had adhesive remover on it. He has been treated by my vet. He did blood tests, hydrated him, antibiotics and pain shot, anti nausea shot. I have been giving him warmed up canned food several times a day mixed with some water. He is coming out from under my bed to eat some and use the litter box BUT he is very weak and unsteady when he walks. How do I get him to regain his strength?

Poisoning Average Cost

From 535 quotes ranging from $200 - $15,000

Average Cost

$2,500