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What is Tomato Plant Poisoning?

The scientific name of the tomato plant is Lycopersicon spp and it resides in the Solanaceae family. If you see your cat eating the leaves or stems of a tomato plant, get him to your vet right away.

While humans can easily eat tomatoes, substances in the stems and leaves of the tomato plant are toxic for small animals. The tomato plant contains solanine, which is toxic for your cat. If he nibbles on tomato plants, he will develop signs of illness. Fortunately for your cat, tomato plant poisoning isn’t typically fatal, but will definitely cause uncomfortable symptoms.

Symptoms of Tomato Plant Poisoning in Cats

You’ll notice the following symptoms after your cat has eaten from a tomato plant:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Extreme stomach upset and vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Behavioral changes
  • Central nervous system depression
  • Apathy
  • Physical weakness
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Enlarged (dilated) pupils
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Causes of Tomato Plant Poisoning in Cats

Tomato plant poisoning in cats is caused by ingesting toxins within green parts of the plant and/or the unripe fruit, including solanine and alpha-tomatine.

Cats who are bored and have easy access to tomato plants are at higher risk of poisoning, due to their increased likelihood of eating the plants out of curiosity.

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Diagnosis of Tomato Plant Poisoning in Cats

When your cat gets sick, you may find evidence that he ate from a tomato plant in your yard. Take a sample from your tomato plant with you to the vet to help confirm a diagnosis.

If your cat is in pain or drooling, the vet will examine his mouth and lips to look for irritation. She will also take a blood sample, which allows her to run a complete blood count and a chemistry panel. She may also decide to collect a urine sample, which allows her to test for your cat’s kidney function. 

If your cat ate a large amount of your tomato plant, your vet may decide to run an ECG to test his heart function. Fecal and vomitus samples may also help your vet to narrow down the exact toxin making your cat sick.

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Treatment of Tomato Plant Poisoning in Cats

The treatments your vet gives to your cat will be based on his symptoms, giving support to your cat until he begins to improve. If he ate a large amount of tomato plant, the vet will induce vomiting, using a 3 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide. Once that process is over, she will neutralize any remaining toxins with activated charcoal.

If your cat has become dehydrated, the vet will offer electrolyte and fluid replacements with intravenous solutions. Your cat’s breathing may be depressed, making supplemental oxygen necessary. If he is experiencing cardiac symptoms, the vet may give a vasopressor to correct this issue. A large ingestion of tomato plant can also lead to convulsions for your cat. If this happens, your cat could receive diazepam. 

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Recovery of Tomato Plant Poisoning in Cats

Bringing your cat to the vet after he has eaten any part of your tomato plant is the most prudent thing to do. This, in combination with eating only a small part of the plant, means his symptoms should be fairly mild. After all of the toxins are out of his symptoms, he should make a full recovery.

It may be difficult for you to keep your cat away from vegetable plants you grow for your family. If you can’t remove the plant, you may need to retrain your cat to live indoors 24/7. While he’ll have to make an adjustment, he will be safer and happier living indoors.

Make his adjustment to living indoors easier by buying cat-friendly plants and cat grasses that you can grow from a small kit. Once these have sprouted, place them in different areas of your house for your cat to nibble on.

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Tomato Plant Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Domestic Shorthair Cat

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Eleven Years

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Unknown severity

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About 10 mins ago, my cat ate a tiny piece of a dead and dried up tomato plant. Maybe a single leaf less than the size of a fingernail before I caught him. I couldn’t get it out of his mouth, so he definitely swallowed it. I see that tomato plants are toxic if ingested in “large quantities” so I’m not sure if I should be worried and take him to the vet or just monitor him for symptoms for the next few hours and then take him if I see any symptoms. Any advice highly appreciated.

July 13, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- At this time I would recommend monitoring for GI upset. With the very small amount that he ate it is very unlikely that it is going to cause any symptoms at all, but to be safe monitor for drooling, vomiting or loss of appetite.

July 13, 2020

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Elsa

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Asian

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20 Months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

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None

Small cat, 1.5 year's old. Eaten 1-2cm of a yellowing tomato plant. No symptoms. Happened 20 mins ago. Is currently eating. Vet has given options of watching & waiting or taking her in for a stomach empty. Have chosen to wait. Any idea how long it takes cats to become symptomatic?

Sept. 2, 2018

Elsa's Owner

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Small cat..female...TIKI; large cat...Duffy

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1Shorthair..s..Tabby..large cat

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15 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

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Lethargic, Won'T Eat

My 2 cats ...one is 5 lbs and the other 13 lbs....both are 15 years old...have nibbled on my cherry tomatoes plant. I did not notice that until yesterday. Both my cats have been lethargic and have no appetite over the last week. I just put 2 and 2 together, looking up the info on tomatoes leaf toxicity. The small cat is not eating at all anymore and hiding. The big cat is still walking around and drinking plenty of water. Is there an antidote for tomato leaf toxicity or are my cats going to die from This?

June 27, 2018

Small cat..female...TIKI; large cat...Duffy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There is no specific antidote for tomato plant poisoning, however you should ensure that both Tiki and Duffy are eating and drinking especially drinking; all care is supportive and symptomatic but if Tiki isn’t drinking you should take both of them into your Veterinarian to be on the safe side. Tomato plant poisoning normally results in mild gastrointestinal tract symptoms but more serious symptoms may present when large amounts are consumed or the cat is small relative to the amount consumed. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 28, 2018

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Scruffy

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Maine Coon

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13 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

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Drowsiness
Loss Of Appetite

My family has a small tomato play that they grew inside the house and my cat nibbled on it from time to time. We tried to stop him but he always found a way. Now he hasn't been eating at all for 2 days and he isn't able to move around as quick but I assume that is because of his age. Could the plant be the reason for him not eating.

June 22, 2018

Scruffy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

The green parts of a tomato plant (stems and leaves) are toxic for cats and the tomato plant is part of the same family of plants as deadly nightshade; repetitive ingestion of the green parts of a tomato plant may cause a variety of symptoms which may include loss of appetite. If you are unable to keep Scruffy away from the plant, you may be should dispose of it to be on the safe side; if there is no improvement in Scruffy’s condition by now you should visit your Veterinarian before the weekend to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 22, 2018

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Cream

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DOMESTIC

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5 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Normal

I had a tomato stirring in my fruit basket on the counter. My cat in the middle of the night when up there and but into the tomato. Will She be ok? Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/cat/condition/tomato-plant-poisoning#

June 5, 2018

Cream's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

That small amount of exposure to the tomato should not cause any problems for Cream. If she has any GI effects, vomiting or diarrhea, she should be seen by her veterinarian, but otherwise she should be fine.

June 5, 2018

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Maynard

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Perisan long hair

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3 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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None Yet

My cat got my moms slices of tomato and only got 2 or 3 bites before I stopped him. Should I be worried? What should I watch for? So far I see no differences in him but I am worried! Vet isnt answering.

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Xena

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Tuxedo

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2 Years

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

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She Looks Fine To Me

I remember when I was younger, I ate a bunch of tomato plant leaves to test their toxicity.........or something. My stomach was a little cramped feeling, but I didn't do anything about it. I suppose I was around 50lb at the time, and I ate about two big leaves and a little bit of stem. This morning my sister's cat, Xena, ate four of my tomato seedlings........stems and all. They only had their first set of leaves and the plants themselves were quite tiny, but so is Xena. She weighs 9lb. It has been a few hours since this occurred, and she appears fine. I just don't want to have any other cat issues this December. My cat, Hector, had to be put down at the age of 4 year because he had an extreme case of hip dysplasia.

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