Helping Cats in Distress: Recognizing Signs of Poisoning

Helping Cats in Distress: Recognizing Signs of Poisoning

This is a guide for cats in distress. If you notice any of these symptoms, take your cat to the vet immediately:



Bloody stools (possibly with mucous)

Signs of poisoning in cats include:

  • Difficulty breathing or increased respiratory rate
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody diarrhea, which may be tinged with blood or mucus
  • Weakness or lethargy (your cat might be reluctant to move around)
  • Drooling, which can be especially evident if your cat has been bedridden for a while and has trouble keeping his mouth open due to dehydration. This can also indicate that he is drooling due to nausea caused by the poison's effect on his digestive system.

Other signs of poisoning include: jaundice (yellowing of eyes or gums), seizures and tremors, loss of appetite

Difficulty breathing or increased respiratory rate

Difficulty breathing or increased respiratory rate

Signs of difficulty breathing include:

  • Increased respiratory rate (more than 30 breaths per minute)
  • Labored or noisy breathing. Your cat may make gurgling noises as he tries to breathe, especially when he first wakes up in the morning and after exercise. This can also be seen in cats with heart disease or pneumonia. If you notice these symptoms, seek immediate veterinary care for your pet!

How to treat difficulty breathing: If you suspect your cat has eaten something toxic and is having trouble breathing, call your veterinarian immediately for advice on what steps to take next while waiting for a visit from the vet's office staff members. In most cases, however--including those involving human foods that are not meant for consumption by cats--you'll need only administer oxygen via an oxygen mask or nasal cannula until help arrives at home (if possible).


Vomiting is one of the most common symptoms of poisoning in cats. Vomiting can occur as soon as 15 minutes after exposure to a poison, or it may take up to 12 hours for vomiting to begin. If your cat has recently eaten something that could be poisonous, you should watch for signs of vomiting or diarrhea (described below).

If you notice that your cat has vomited undigested food or blood, this is an indication that he has been poisoned and needs immediate veterinary attention. If no foreign material can be seen in his vomit and if he doesn't appear ill otherwise (i.e., acting normal), then there's probably no need to rush him off to see his vet just yet--but keep an eye on him!

Bloody diarrhea

Bloody diarrhea is one of the most common signs of poisoning in cats and can be a sign that your cat has eaten something toxic. The blood may or may not be visible to the naked eye, but if it is, it will be bright red or maroon in color. If you suspect that your cat has been poisoned, take him or her to the veterinarian immediately for treatment.

If you find yourself dealing with any of these symptoms (or even one), don't panic! There are many things that could cause these symptoms without being serious: food allergies; inflammatory bowel disease; parasites such as hookworms or roundworms; cancerous growths inside their intestines called adenocarcinomas (which can also cause diarrhea); liver diseases like hepatitis A virus infection; pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).

Weakness or lethargy

If a cat is exhibiting weakness or lethargy, it may be a sign of poisoning. Weakness and lethargy are common signs of poisoning in both cats and dogs. However, cats are more prone to being poisoned than dogs because they have a higher metabolism rate and therefore tend to ingest more toxins per pound of body weight than dogs.

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea


Drooling is a common sign of poisoning. If your cat is drooling, it could be an indication that they've ingested something toxic. However, it's important to note that this symptom can also occur for other reasons: some cats drool when they're happy, while others do so when they're ill or stressed out (especially in response to car rides). If you think your cat has been poisoned and begins to show signs of drooling after eating a meal or drinking water from an unfamiliar bowl, take them immediately to the vet!

Call your vet or an animal hospital. If you can’t reach the veterinarian, seek help from another professional who can administer antivenom.


If you notice any of these symptoms, bring your cat to the vet immediately. The sooner you act, the more likely it is that your cat will recover.

If your cat has been bitten by a venomous snake, there are several things you can do at home to help reduce the risk of serious complications.

If you’re able to catch the snake, bring it with you when you go to the hospital. The vet will be able to identify the species of snake and determine if it was venomous.


If you think your cat may be poisoned, bring him to a veterinarian immediately. Keep an eye on him for signs of improvement and call the vet if he becomes worse. If your cat has ingested antifreeze or any other toxic substance, take him to the emergency room as soon as possible so he can be treated with a specific antidote called fomepizole (4-methyl pyrazole).

Drooling can also be a symptom of an upper respiratory infection (URI), which is often caused by bacteria or viruses. It's important to note that while these two conditions are different, they do share some symptoms—including drooling. If you notice your cat drooling after eating or drinking something, take them to the vet immediately!


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