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Poisoning in cats

Cats' curiosity can entice them to sniff and taste things that are both dangerous and poisonous. Here we list substances that can cause poisoning in the cat and give you tips on what you can do if you suspect that your cat has been poisoned.
Poisoning in cats

Substances that can cause poisoning in your cat

  • Avocado
  • Bitter almond
  • Flowers, plants and bulbs
  • Chocolate and cocoa
  • Toxic algae and algal blooms
  • Glycol
  • Drug
  • Onions and garlic
  • Rat poison and mouse poison
  • Grapes and raisins


Avocado has low toxicity and causes no or mild symptoms from the gastrointestinal tract in the form of vomiting and diarrhoea.

Bitter almonds are toxic to cats

Bitter almonds contain cyanide which can be very dangerous for cats. If the cat ingests bitter almonds, it can lead to a lack of oxygen in the body. Symptoms that can be seen are increased breathing rate, difficulty breathing and very bright red mucous membranes. Symptoms can be seen 10-15 minutes after ingestion.

Poisonous flowers, plants and bulbs

Many houseplants and cut flowers are poisonous or have irritating sap. Therefore, you should be a little careful with what kind of plants you have at home if you have a cat that likes to chew on potted plants or cut flowers. Certain plants, such as lilies which are very dangerous for cats, should be avoided in the home.

Chocolate can be harmful to cats

Cats, like dogs, are sensitive to chocolate, but are generally not interested in sweets. The theobromine in the chocolate can be harmful to the cat if it eats too much. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine the chocolate contains. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning usually appear after 2-4 hours, but can also appear later.

Toxic algae and algal blooms

Cats who drink water during algae blooms can become poisoned. Whether or not your cat becomes poisoned depends on the levels of algae toxins in the water and how much your cat drank from the water.

Glycol is highly toxic

Glycol is highly toxic to cats and can be fatal, even in small amounts. Keep in mind that if the cat gets glycol on their fur, they will ingest the liquid when they lick their fur clean. Glycol is very toxic and if the cat is not treated immediately, it could die of kidney failure. If you suspect that your cat has ingested glycol, you must urgently see a veterinarian.

Medicines that can poison your cat

Drug poisoning is one of the most common poisonings in cats. In some cases, it is enough for the cat to ingest a very small dose for the situation to become life-threatening. Never give any kind of human medication to the cat unless your vet has prescribed it.

Onions and garlic

A small amount is enough for your cat to start feeling bad from onions and garlic. Therefore, you should avoid giving your cat onions, garlic or food containing either of them, regardless of whether it is raw or cooked. Onion and garlic powder should also be avoided. Garlic is also up to five times more toxic than onions.

Rat and mouse poison are dangerous for cats

Cats are less interested in eating directly from the laid out rat poison. But a rat or mouse that has ingested the rat poison but is still alive is often an easier and more interesting prey for a cat. The risk is greatest with direct ingestion of the poison. There is less risk with secondary poisoning, for example if the cat eats a poisoned mouse, but the risk increases if it eats several poisoned mice.

Grapes and raisins

Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure in cats. The type, size, amount or colour doesn't matter - they're all toxic.

What can I do if my cat is poisoned?

Do you suspect that your cat has been poisoned?

Try to find out:

  • What your cat has ingested
  • How much your cat has ingested

Symptoms of poisoning can appear quickly and others only after a few days. Some poisonings require prompt treatment regardless of whether the cat has symptoms of poisoning or not. In the early stages, the treatment usually consists of making the cat vomit to empty the stomach, and in the later stages, care at an animal hospital may be needed.

If you feel concerned about your cat's health and are unsure how to act, you can use the Agria Vet Guide app for help 24/7. If your cat is insured in Agria, advice is included around the clock.

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