Poisoning in Cats: Everything You Need to Know

There are a variety of potentially toxic drugs, plants and other substances that cats may encounter in their environment.

If you suspect that the cat has come into contact with something toxic, you should contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Diagnosis and treatment

In some cases there are specific tests to use in a suspected poisoning, but in most cases it is necessary to know what the cat has come in contact with. It is very important to bring any packaging or plants to the vet.

To reduce the uptake of the toxic substance, you can provoke the cat to vomit with the help of drugs.

It is most effective within 30 minutes after ingestion of the toxic substance. Some substances such as corrosive substances can cause burns to the esophagus and in these cases vomiting should not be induced.

NOTE – We do not recommend that you try to induce vomiting with salt at home as this can lead to salt poisoning in the cat.

Carbon in tablet form or suspension can be given to reduce the absorption of certain substances via the intestine. In many cases, intravenous fluid therapy is effective in filtering out the substance via the kidneys. For certain substances, there is a specific antidote to give.


Lily plants (including amaryllis, lily of the valley, etc.) are toxic to cats and can lead to acute kidney failure. In some cases, only small amounts are required for the cat to have symptoms. At the animal hospital, blood samples, urine samples are taken and an ultrasound examination of the kidneys is performed. The cat is treated with induction of vomiting, carbon monoxide and intravenous fluids.


Paracetamol is available in tablets such as alvedon and panodil. The cat lacks the enzyme that breaks down paracetamol, which is why it is very toxic to cats. As little as one tablet can be fatal. The cat develops symptoms such as shallow rapid breathing, swelling of the face, dizziness and brown blood. Diagnosis can be made with a blood test and knowledge of taking a tablet. Treatment of paracetamol poisoning is based on the induction of vomiting, carbon monoxide, intravenous fluids and injection of a kind of antidote.

Ethylene glycol

Ethylene glycol is found in coolant, washer fluid, locking oils and brake fluids. It is sweet and good to lick but very dangerous for the cat that develops an acute kidney failure as a result. It is of great importance to seek care quickly if it is suspected that the cat has come into contact with ethylene glycol. Immediately after ingestion, the cat may experience symptoms such as nausea, shakiness, increased thirst and decreased body temperature. After about 12 hours, the cat will develop symptoms of acute renal failure with decreased urine production and abdominal pain.

At the animal hospital, blood samples, urine samples and ultrasound of kidneys are taken to make the diagnosis. The cat is treated with ethanol as an antidote to ethylene glycol.

Rat and mouse poison

It is uncommon for cats to suffer from poisoning with rat or mouse poison, as they are less interested than dogs in eating the bait. Cats that hunt rodents usually catch live animals, but they may eat a mouse or rat that has been poisoned. The risk that the cat itself will ingest such a large dose that it becomes ill increases the more poisoned rodents it ingests.

Most rat poisons are based on substances that prevent the blood’s ability to coagulate. It takes a few days after ingestion until you see symptoms of poisoning. The cat may begin to bleed spontaneously from the nose, vomit blood, bloody diarrhea and bleed from mucous membranes in the mouth. Diagnosis is made with blood tests and knowledge of intake. The cat is treated with vitamin K injections or tablets to restore the blood’s ability to coagulate. In life-threatening conditions, blood transfusions may be required.

The rat poison alphachloralos causes unconsciousness, disturbed heart rhythm and neurological symptoms. As the drug lacks an antidote, supportive and symptomatic treatment is given.

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