Effects of Poisons on Different Body Systems in Cats

Poisons and symptomsPoisoning is a common occurrence in cats although not as common as in dogs. It can happen when a well-meaning pet owner administers a medication that has not been prescribed or if the cat receives a larger dose of a prescribed medication, if the cat accidentally or intentionally ingests a toxic substance, secondary poisoning (eating a rodent that has ingested poison) or deliberate poisoning. Poisons can affect one or several body systems, causing a range of symptoms which we have highlighted below.

Clinical signs Possible toxins:
Coagulopathy (blood clotting disorders)
  • Rodenticides
  • Cycad seeds
  • Aflatoxins
  • Snake bite
  • Aspirin
  • NSAIDs
  • Heparin
  • Wafarin
Depression
  • Cannabis
  • Lead
  • Vitamin A
Gastrointestinal (vomiting and/or diarrhea)
  • Cane toad
  • Organophosphates
  • Chocolate
  • Cycad
  • Antifreeze (ethylene glycol)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Lead
  • Lilies
  • Tobacco
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc
  • Paracetamol
  • Lavender
  • Tea tree
Hemolysis (destruction of the red blood cells)
  • Cephalosporins (certain antibiotics)
  • Levamisole
  • Sulfa drugs
  • Onions and garlic
  • Paracetamol (acetaminophen)
  • Snake bite
  • Lead
  • Fenbendazole
  • Heparin
Hepatoxicity (liver)
  • Aflatoxins
  • Cycads
  • Paracetamol
  • Arsenic
  • Pine oil
  • Selenium
  • Dimethylnitrosamine
Hyperesthesia (rolling skin)
  • Chocolate
  • Tobacco
Hypersalivation (drooling)
  • Cane toad
  • Aracae plants (arum)
  • Tobacco
  • Organophosphate
  • Synthetic pyrethroids
  • Paracetamol
  • Arsenic
  • Snail bait
Kidney failure
  • Antifreeze (ethylene glycol)
  • Antimicrobials (aminoglycosides, carbapenems, fluoroquinolones, rifampin, tetracyclins, amphotericin B, cephalosporins, penicillins, sulfonamides, vancomycin)
  • Chemotherapy drugs (cisplatin, bisphosphonates, carboplatin)
  • Immunosuppressant drugs (azathioprine, ciclosporine)
  • Other drugs include streptokinase, NSAIDs)
  • Grapes
  • Lilies
Paresis or paralysis
  • Botulism
  • Paralysis tick
  • Tea tree
Seizures
  • Cane tode
  • Organophosophates
  • Lead
  • Chocolate
  • Cycads
  • Tobacco
  • Mycotoxins
  • Strychnine
  • Synthetic pyrethroids
  • Metaldehyde
Tremors
  • Cane toad
  • Cannabis
  • Tobacco
  • Synthetic pyrethroids
  • Organophosphates
  • Vitamin D

If you suspect your cat has been exposed to a poison, seek immediate veterinary attention.

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