Clinical Signs of Poisoning in Cats

Even though it is uncommon for cats to be poisoned, it may happen. To keep your cat safe and healthy, it pays to be prepared. Knowing which substances are poisonous to cats, as well as the clinical signs of poisoning, can help you make your home a safer place for your feline. 

Due to their small size, ingesting even small quantities of harmful chemicals may cause your cat to feel ill. Cats, in contrast to dogs, are normally picky eaters- so it is less common for them to eat toxic items. However, because cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves, the most prevalent cause of poisoning in cats is ingestion of chemicals found on their fur. Another common cause of poisoning in cats is the ingestion of small rodents or other animals that have been poisoned themselves—keep this in mind when treating your home for mice or bugs when a cat is present. 

Household Substances That Are Poisonous to Cats 

Many common household products can be poisonous if ingested by cats, plants, cleaning supplies, insecticides, medications, even human food can be detrimental if inhaled or consumed. If you have any of the products mentioned below in your house, be sure to keep them out of reach of your cat. Also, never give your cat medicine without first seeing your veterinarian to ensure that the prescription is safe. 

  • Weed killers 
  • Pest control chemicals 
  • Disinfectants 
  • Detergent 
  • Salt lamps 
  • Lilies 
  • Ibuprofen (painkiller) 
  • Acetaminophen (painkiller) 
  • Dog flea and tick medications 
  • Spring flowering bulbs 
  • Grapes 
  • Chocolate 
  • Alcohol 
  • Onions 
  • Garlic  

Cat Poisoning Clinical Signs: What to Look For 

The clinical signs of poisoning can vary depending on the amount of the poisonous item, what the item was, and the age and current health conditions of your cat. If you notice a change in health or behavior in your cat, contact your veterinarian immediately. Listed below are a few of the most typical indications that your cat has been poisoned: 

  • Drooling 
  • Salivation 
  • Coughing  
  • Diarrhea  
  • Vomiting  
  • Twitching  
  • Seizure  
  • Coma  
  • Skin inflammation  
  • Swelling  
  • Abdominal pain  
  • Shock  
  • Collapse 
  • Increased drinking and urination 
  • Jaundice 
  • Irregular heartbeat  
  • Generalized weakness  
  • Fever  
  • Appetite loss  
  • Unsteady stride 


If you believe your cat has ingested a toxic substance, contact your veterinarian immediately. If you know what is causing the reaction (you found a candy wrapper with teeth marks, or a plant with a nibble out of it) bring the item with you as it may help in diagnosis. While treatment will also vary depending on the severity and type of poisoning, typical treatment usually starts with inducing vomiting, after which activated charcoal may be administered by your pet’s care team. In more severe cases, IV fluids may be given to help with hydration as well as anticonvulsants to help with seizures.