Poisoning in cats: symptoms and first aid

 Poisoning in cats is a painful condition that requires immediate attention. Fortunately, most cats are very fastidious and rarely taste something inedible. However, according to the English saying – curiosity killed the cat. In order not to let this saying come true, the owner must protect the pet from hazardous substances. When the first signs of poisoning are noticed, you should seek medical advice immediately.

Causes of poisoning and first aid

 Timely treatment of poisoning in cats minimizes the impact of intoxication. It is unwise to wait for the self-healing of your pet, especially when you have no idea about the causes of poisoning. A piece of bad cheese may cause a temporary disorder, but substances like rat poison or detergents got into the cat’s stomach may lead to death.

First aid is aimed at interruption of toxic substances intake and, if it is possible, at toxin excretion. After giving the first aid you need to go to the veterinary clinic with the cat urgently, even if it seems that the cat feels better!

 Cats that are kept at home may swallow harmful substances because of their owners being inattentive. Swallowing household chemicals, hygiene products, antifreeze and drugs kept in the reach of cats are the most popular reasons for serious intoxication. Sometimes cats chew the leaves of toxic plants. In extremely rare cases they may eat food that went bad. Symptoms of poisoning in cats depend on the substance the cat swallowed:

 The symptoms of poisoning with medicines are: drowsiness or excited state, weakness, unsteady gait, excessive salivation, dilated pupils, discoloration of the gums, and vomiting. First aid: give the cat 1 pill of activated carbon dissolved in a spoonful of water.

 Poisoning with a poisonous plant – arrhythmia, vomiting and / or diarrhea, broadening or narrowing of the pupils, tremors, decreased temperature, and rapid pulse. First aid: gastric lavage with the potassium permanganate 2% solution, a spoonful of an enterosorbent. 

 Poisoning with acids – swelling of the larynx, excessive salivation, labored breathing; convulsions are possible. First aid: make a water solution using baking soda, pour into the cat’s mouth. Do not try to induce vomiting!

 Poisoning with alkali – excessive salivation, labored breathing, vomiting and / or bloody diarrhea, and convulsions. First aid: 3 tbsp. of boiled water mixed with 2.5 tbsp. of lemon juice, pour into the cat’s mouth. Do not induce vomiting.

 Food poisoning – vomiting and / or diarrhea, dilated pupils, pale mucous, painful abdomen, general weakness. First aid: if the cat is conscious and breathing normally, no tremor is observed, you need to induce vomiting (choose one: a) put some salt on the tongue root b) give 3% hydrogen peroxide solution c) give half a cup of salt water), and then give a pill or activated carbon or an enterosorbent. 

 Pesticides poisoning – vomiting, excessive salivation, diarrhea, tremor. In severe cases: convulsive swallowing, paralysis. First aid: gastric lavage with the potassium permanganate 2% solution, a pill of activated carbon.

 Mercury poisoning – sores on the mucous membrane, copious vomiting, convulsions, temperature decrease, paralysis. First aid: air the room, give you cat water with activated carbon dissolved in it. Also you can give an unboiled egg white. 

 In case a toxic substance has got onto the coat you need to process the affected area with vegetable oil and then wash the poison off with soap and water.

Important! When there are symptoms of CNS disorder, for example shortness of breath, convulsions, convulsive swallowing, paralysis, blurred consciousness – it is forbidden to induce vomiting, as the cat can choke.

 Symptoms of poisoning with toxic gases are highly specific: scarlet mucous, belching, excessive salivation. In severe cases, there may be unsteady gait, weak breathing, and cramps. First aid: put the cat on the side and immediately take it to the vet. Monitor cat’s breathing closely, in case it stops you should perform artificial respiration (through the nose with the frequency of 15 times per minute).

How to help the vet?

 Giving first aid, do not think twice about what to do in case of poisoning. The best help you can render is to deliver the pet to the nearest vet clinic immediately. But you can definitely help the vet. You should do the following:

  • take a package of the substance the cat supposedly swallowed (if it is a plant, take a leaf or a twig);
  • if you know exactly what the cat has swallowed, it is important to describe the amount of substance got into the stomach;
  • if you have no idea of the source of poisoning, put some part of vomit into the package;
  • describe the process of cat’s condition aggravation;
  • give the details of color and consistency of vomit and diarrhea fecal, if any;
  • try to memorize the sequence of poisoning signs onset (for example, first vomiting, then diarrhea, then pale mucous membranes, etc.);
  • on the way to the clinic try to recall whether the cat is allergic to any medications, if there are problems with health or chronic diseases.


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