Can cats get food poisoning? Untamed answers the burning question
How many times have we had a wonderful meal only to experience nasty food poisoning a few hours later. Humans can be sensitive to food, but does the same go for their furry companions? Can cats get food poisoning?
Let’s delve into the matter and discover the ins and outs of food poisoning in cats—what usually causes it, what the symptoms are, and how to prevent it. We will also go over the common harmful bacteria and toxins triggering toxicosis in felines.
Oh, hooman, I don’t feel so good…
Source: Erik Leusink
Food poisoning in cats
Various substances can lead to food poisoning in felines, but it is usually caused by harmful bacteria found in raw or spoiled meat. The most frequent foodborne illnesses in cats are:
Can cats get Salmonella?
Yes, cats can get Salmonella. As they are obligate carnivores, their instinct is to eat meat. While cats in the wild hunt their food, indoor kitties rely on their cat parents to provide lunch. Some cat parents believe that the bones and raw food (B.A.R.F.) diet is the way to go because it resembles cats’ natural feeding pattern. Unfortunately, raw meat from the human supply chain carries numerous risks, including Salmonella.
Salmonella is a bacterial organism that causes an infection called salmonellosis. This type of food poisoning triggers various issues in the feline gastrointestinal system, such as dehydration, diarrhoea, vomiting, and weight loss.
Kittens and senior cats are more sensitive to Salmonella than adult felines because their immune system is weaker. Fully grown cats can be prone to salmonellosis if their immunity is compromised by an autoimmune disease or another chronic condition.
Salmonella is most commonly found in raw meat and bones.
Symptoms of cat food poisoning by Salmonella
If your cat contracts salmonellosis, you must take them to the vet immediately. Keep an eye on the following food poisoning symptoms:
- Mucus in the stool
- Increased heart rate
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Weight loss
The symptoms depend on the severity of infection and your furry friend’s current immune system response—not all cats exhibit the most obvious signs of salmonellosis.
How is salmonellosis treated?
If your vet suspects that your cat might have Salmonella, they will carry out full blood, urine, and faeces tests to set a diagnosis. If your furball’s case is complicated, the vet might hospitalise them. The treatment focuses on hydration because your cat will lose lots of fluids due to excessive vomiting and diarrhoea.
If the vet doesn’t hospitalise your pet, they will provide clear instructions on how to take care of your feline companion at home. Food restrictions are mandatory, and they can last for 48 hours or more depending on the severity of the poisoning.
How to avoid food poisoning by Salmonella
The best way to save your cat from Salmonella is to feed them only cooked meat and fish, especially if you like to prepare homemade meals for your furry friend. As raw eggs can also carry the bacteria, exclude them from your kitty's diet.
I licked something fishy earlier, and now my tummy’s all weird.
Source: Eric Han
What is botulism?
Botulism can cause severe paralysis. Clostridium botulinum (bacteria responsible for the disease) can be found in decomposing food, such as meat or vegetables. The nasty pathogen releases a toxin that causes severe damage to various body systems. It is intoxication rather than infection.
Botulism isn’t contagious, but if you have more than one cat, they can all get it by consuming the same spoiled food. The good news is that botulism is rare in felines because they are particular about what they eat. If your cat does get it, take them to the vet immediately.
What are the symptoms of botulism?
Symptoms of botulism may appear a few hours after your kitty eats something spoiled. They can last for several days or weeks, usually manifesting as paralysis. In severe cases, respiratory and cardiac paralysis can occur, ultimately leading to death.
The most common signs of botulism are:
- Appetite loss
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing
- Inability to urinate
- Mild to moderate paralysis
- Difficulty breathing
- Cardiac arrest
How is botulism diagnosed?
Vets might sometimes fail to diagnose botulism because symptoms are similar to other bacterial infections. Botulism is also somewhat difficult to detect in test results as Clostridium botulinum may not be present in fluids or tissues.
You must provide information about your furry friend, including whether they have the habit of going through the garbage since it’s the most likely place to find spoiled food. Your info is crucial to help the vet set a correct diagnosis.
How is botulism treated?
Once your veterinarian diagnoses botulism, they will administer an antitoxin. They might also hospitalise your kitty. Potential treatments during hospitalisation are:
- Oxygen therapy—If your feline friend is experiencing respiratory paralysis, the vet might opt for oxygen therapy
- Feeding tubes—In case your kitty is unable to eat, a feeding tube might be used to provide the essential nutrients needed for a speedy recovery
- Intravenous fluids—The vet will use IV if your cat is dehydrated. Dehydration is pretty common in botulism because of vomiting
What is listeriosis?
Listeriosis is a bacterial infection caused by Listeria monocytogenes. It is foodborne and commonly found in raw meat, such as poultry, liver, and beef. The bacteria can sometimes be found in canned cat food as well. If products aren’t washed, pasteurised, or cooked properly, they can carry Listeria.
Listeriosis is contracted by ingestion of contaminated food. Inhaling the bacteria is also a possible way of contracting listeriosis. Listeria can cause latent infection, miscarriage, and septicemia.
If the bacteria travel to the spinal column, it can cause depression, facial nerve paralysis, and circling. Your cat may get listeriosis from the following:
- Table scraps
- Cat food
- Raw food
- Uncooked seafood
- Undercooked meat
- Unpasteurised dairy products
Symptoms of listeriosis
The symptoms of listeriosis depend on the severity of the infection. Some cats might not even develop listeriosis because healthy and non-pregnant felines are rarely affected. Kitties who develop it usually have mild gastrointestinal and brain-related issues.
Listeriosis is accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Appetite loss
- Facial nerve paralysis
Symptoms may take from two days to two months to appear.
How is listeriosis treated?
In the case of severe symptoms, your furry friend might be hospitalised and put on an IV to help with dehydration. Your cat will probably have to take antibiotics, such as trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, amoxicillin, penicillin, or ampicillin.
The recovery depends on the overall health of your furry companion. If they have a compromised immune system, a chronic disease, or another condition making their health unstable, they aren’t likely to fully recover.
The prognosis for listeriosis also depends on how early it is discovered and how quickly the treatment is administered.
I eat grass when I need help digesting my food.
What popular products can cause food poisoning in cats?
Some products from the human supply chain can cause severe toxicosis in cats. Even when given as an occasional treat, the following can be super harmful to your feline companion:
Plants from the allium family, such as onions, garlic, chives, and shallots, are highly toxic to cats because they contain disulphates and thiosulphates. These substances attack and destroy feline red blood cells leading to hemolysis. Allium veggies also cause severe gastrointestinal distress.
Keep any food containing these vegetables out of paw’s reach. If your kitty ingests an onion, garlic clove, or any other allium vegetable, take them straight to the vet.
Tea, coffee, and chocolate
You should keep your kitty away from tea, coffee, and chocolate as caffeine can cause poisoning in cats. Caffeine toxicosis manifests in muscle tremors, breathing difficulties, increased heart rate, and restlessness. In severe cases of caffeine poisoning, your feline friend may experience seizures.
If you notice any caffeine poisoning symptoms, rush to the nearest vet.
Alcohol and products containing it can be extremely dangerous for your kitty because they lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors, balance issues, breathing difficulties, coma, and death. Felines cannot process ethanol as efficiently as humans. A sip of wine or a cocktail is a lethal dose of ethanol for them.
Another potential source of alcohol could be yeast. As it ferments in your kitty’s tummy, it produces ethanol, which can damage your cat’s liver and kidneys.
It probably won’t surprise you that cats shouldn’t eat raw dough. As humans would suffer from severe gastrointestinal distress, so would felines. Bread dough and other kinds of batter can cause bloating and constipation. When baking, keep your furry companion out of the kitchen.
Grapes and raisins
Grapes and raisins are toxic to cats and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and restlessness. Frequent consumption can even lead to kidney failure. Symptoms of poisoning can appear 12 to 24 hours after ingestion. Your cat may exhibit:
- Appetite loss
- Abdominal pain
- Decreased urination
Mushrooms from the human supply chain aren’t poisonous for cats and can be an occasional treat. Wild mushrooms are a cause for concern. Mushroom poisoning can be lethal, so keep an eye on your kitty if you take them walking through the forest.
The symptoms of toxicosis can appear a few hours after ingestion, and they include:
- Sensory issues
- Excessive salivation
- Yellowing of the eyes and skin
How to prevent food poisoning in cats
To prevent food poisoning in cats, take the following measures:
- Cook all your kitty’s food thoroughly—Raw meat and bones may carry harmful bacteria that can lead to food poisoning
- Keep potentially poisonous products out of paw’s reach—To make sure that your kitty’s safe from poisoning, keep all toxic food and other products (chemicals, meds, cleaning products) in a place your cat cannot access
- Throw away any food that looks or smells dodgy—Cats will usually notice when the food goes bad, and they will refuse to eat. Don’t mistake this for fussiness, and check the expiry date. Listen to your furball’s instincts and throw away spoiled food. Keep in mind that some wet food products are only good 24 hours after opening. If the can contains more servings, keep it in the fridge. Throw away any leftovers plated for more than four hours. Dry cat food can last up to six weeks in a tightly sealed bag
Clean out my bowl! It reeks of fish!
Which food is better? Dry or wet?
Top-notch cat food must be high in essential nutrients, such as:
More than 70%
More than 50% (of the dry matter)
Up to 20% (of the dry matter)
Less than 3% (of the dry matter)
Dry versus wet cat food is an ongoing dilemma among cat parents. To determine which is better, we’ll need to examine both. Keep in mind that products need to be fresh and properly stored and served to avoid food poisoning in cats.
Dry cat food
Cat kibble is heavily processed and contains numerous fillers that increase the carb content. A cat's diet should have less than 3% carbohydrates, so biscuits are far from ideal.
Since cats aren't avid water drinkers, their food should be high in moisture. Dry food lacks the much-needed moisture, and without proper hydration, cats can develop urinary tract diseases, such as cystitis and struvite crystals.
Wet cat food
High-quality wet food has the essential nutrients to keep your kitty fit and healthy:
- The animal protein they get from whole-meat wet food contains the essential amino acids, such as taurine and arginine, crucial for your feline companion’s metabolism
- Fatty acids contribute to skin and coat health, so the product should contain some animal fat. Even the tiniest amount makes the meal super tasty to your furry friend
- Moisture content in cat food must take up at least 70%, so gravy and jelly cat food products are the best for hydration
- Vitamins and minerals are vital for your cat's health, and whole meat is the best source of these crucial micronutrients
Some cats don’t like wet food because of its soft and squishy texture. If you are struggling with a wet food hater, introduce the product gradually. Here are some tips for switching your furry friend to a wet food diet with zero fuss:
- Mix kibbles with wet food and reduce the portions of dry food gradually
- Soak dry food in soup or broth
- Warm up wet food to release the aroma
- Wash the bowl between meals
The dinner is served! Untamed is the tastiest food!
Image (c) Untamed
Want the best wet food? Try Untamed!
Looking for food that will tick all nutritional boxes and be irresistible to your fussy feline? Untamed is the way to go! Our delicious and nutrient-dense meals are:
- Prepared with whole meat—We use only human-grade meat in our jelly and gravy dishes (with a dash of ham) and skip iffy derivatives, such as grains, vegetables, and slaughterhouse scraps
- Vet-formulated—We collaborated with vets to create the optimal product that will meet your furry friend’s unique biological needs and please their sensitive palate
- High in protein—Our meals contain two times more protein than average cat food
- Ethically produced—We leave a neutral carbon footprint and use 100% recyclable packaging. Our food contains ingredients from sustainable sources
- Free from all common allergens—There are no harsh preservatives or artificial taste enhancers in our food. It’s suitable for kitties with sensitive tummies or those prone to allergic reactions
To order Untamed delicacies for your kitty, take our TRY NOW quiz and get a taster pack at the best price!
And for real poultry lovers, we have the perfect combination of chicken and duck!
Image (c) Untamed
Here’s why Untamed is the best food
Your cat’s overall health will improve on Untamed. Check out how our satisfied clients describe the Untamed effect:
Within a week
Within two months
After four months
After six months and for a lifetime
How to join the Untamed family
- Visit our Try Now page and tell us about your kitty’s:
- Food preferences
- Eating habits
- Select a meal plan
- Place your order
We will send your Untamed starter pack in a day. The shipping is free, and the goods will be delivered right to your doorstep. If your feline companion likes our food, we will replenish your supplies around the same time every month. Use your account anytime to modify your wet cat food subscription, and even postpone or cancel an order.