Cat Food Poisoning Symptoms

Though cats have an acidic stomach meant to kill bacteria, they can still suffer from food poisoning when eating something they shouldn't or when their cat food goes bad. Because cats are naturally exploratory animals, they are often more prone to food poisoning than dogs by consuming something they shouldn't.

Symptoms of Food Poisoning

There are several symptoms of food poisoning. Since many of these symptoms can also indicate other problems, food poisoning is difficult to diagnose. If the problem is severe or persists longer than a few hours, visit your veterinarian.

Symptoms of food poisoning can include any appetite change such as over- or under-eating or drinking, vomiting, diarrhea (often bloody), coughing, excessive saliva production, abdomen pain and panting. Behavior changes can include lethargy or over-activity such as pacing or increased anxiety. Skin rashes can also be a sign of food poisoning, much like an allergic reaction. In extreme cases, your cats may suffer from seizures or shock, but this is usually a result of poisoning from a toxin, not food.

Treatment of Poisoning

If possible, obtain a source of the poisoning or keep a sample of the vomit or diarrhea for your veterinarian. Do not induce vomiting unless expressly instructed by your veterinarian or a poison control hotline.

If the symptoms are only mild, give your cat only water for several hours and then follow up with a bland diet such as rice and cottage cheese to settle his stomach. If the symptoms persist, give your veterinarian a call.

If your cat has a rash, wash him off with a light shampoo or soap and lukewarm water. If this problem occurs after eating a certain brand of food, try changing the type of protein or brand of food to see if the problem diminishes.

Prevention of Poisoning

If you feed your cat commercial cat food, be aware that recalls are occasionally necessary when a batch of food is made from bad ingredients. If your cat seems hesitant to eat food he has always enjoyed, don't force it. Check the date and try a different can or different brand altogether to see if he will eat something else. If so, the food may have gone bad.

Your veterinarian will often be aware of pet recalls as will many pet web sites. Keep informed of any potential problems with your pet's brand of food.

Keep all foods that may be toxic to your cat put away. This applies to all poisonous substances as well. If you have plants in your house or yard that may be poisonous to cats, don't allow your cats to have access to those areas.

Keeping your cat indoors can reduce instances of food poisoning because your cat won't have access to old, dead or poisoned carcasses that may cause illness.

Cat food poisoning can be hard to diagnose because the symptoms mimic so many other illnesses. However, if your cat has vomit or diarrhea or shows any other sudden health or behavior changes, call your veterinarian.