What To Do If Your Cat Has Ingested Something Poisonous

Cat eating cat grass
Cats can be notoriously fussy when it comes to what they like to eat, so many people think that it’s uncommon for them to ingest something poisonous, especially in comparison to dogs. However, due to the curious nature of cats and their hunting instincts, it’s unfortunately not as uncommon as you’d think.

How can a cat become poisoned?

Cats can be poisoned from a number of factors, whether it’s physically eating something that contains harmful toxins that upset their digestive system, or whether it’s from something getting on their coat which they have ingested after they’ve groomed themselves. If they are hunting for a meal and consume an infected bird, for example, that can also cause some serious problems.

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to classify anything that is dangerous to eat yourself is harmful to your cat, though it can affect them in different ways. There will, of course, be some things that will be harmful to your cat that you may not have even considered.


We made an infographic to illustrate this, which you can take a look at here.

Cat having an inspection

What are the primary symptoms?

As our feline friends can’t tell us when something is wrong with them, we have to look for clues in their appearance, behaviour and habits to work out if something is wrong. The primary symptoms of a poison-related problem include, but are not limited to:

  • Lethargy and weakness – sleeping much more and an unwillingness to respond to you, especially if it involves movement
  • Excessive thirst/and urination – drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite are also linked
  • Muscle tremors and nervousness – hyperactivity, seizures and even comas can also signify a problem
  • Pale or yellowish gums – can indicate poison ingestion or a nutritional deficiency

Cat being treated at the vets

Immediate care

When you’ve evaluated a problem with your cat that you suspect may be a result of poison ingestion, or have seen them eat something you know is harmful to them, it’s vital that you take swift, immediate action. Being proactive in this instance could save your cat’s life. If you’ve seen your cat eat something toxic, it’s important not to wait for symptoms before taking them to receive medical attention as their condition can rapidly deteriorate.

Therefore taking your cat to the vet as soon as possible is vital. Take a vial of the substance your cat has eaten so that the vets will know exactly what it is they are dealing with and can authorise the most effective treatments straight away. You may need to answer other questions as well, such as how much did they eat, where did they eat it and whether or not they ate any packaging.

Happy cat sleeping

Prevention for the future

The vet will then treat your cat accordingly to remove the toxins from its body. This can include methods such as:

  • Inducing vomiting – this should never be done yourself at home as it can sometimes have an adverse effect depending on the nature of the poison
  • Intravenous fluids and medications – to flush out the harmful toxins or to absorb them in the gut
  • Medications to relieve symptoms and frequent tests – the symptoms may be a discomfort to your cat so your vet will work to treat this, as well as keeping an eye on their progress

You will no doubt want to avoid this from happening again as much as possible, so prevention is paramount for keeping your cat safe, happy and healthy. A large part of this is by reducing the access your cat will have to poisonous substances, and this can be implemented by taking a few common-sense precautions, such as cleaning up spillages immediately, keeping medications in a locked drawer/cupboard, and keeping cleaning products out of view.


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