Botulism in cats: causes, symptoms and treatment

Let’s take care of the courtyards and outdoor areas for the health of our pet. Botulism in cats could be a problem. 

Cat botulism is a rare but dangerous form of cat poisoning that may have been caused by eating infected raw meat, ingesting dead animals, or breaking down plant matter infected with Clostridium botulinum type C neurotoxin.

Botulism in cats is caused by a bacterium known as Clostridium botulinum, which produces botulinum toxin, which is an exotoxin that can have both sporulated and vegetative forms.

Symptoms of botulism in cats

Dogs are generally resistant to the more severe effects of Clostridium botulinum while the disease is almost unknown in cats. The disease does not appear immediately, from the moment the cat has eaten what was infected, it may take a few hours and a few days for the symptoms of botulism to appear.

The bacterial neurotoxin causes fatigue in the cat, which begins in the animal’s hind legs and moves forward towards the trunk, neck and forelegs, which ultimately results in paralysis of the four limbs. Other symptoms of botulism in dogs include difficulty chewing and swallowing, drooling, vomiting, abdominal pain and dry eyes in cats.


To establish a diagnosis, your vet will want to know if your pet has potentially been in contact with spoiled meat or a dead animal. He will then do a full physical exam and ask for a blood chemistry profile, urinalysis and blood work, as is the case with the dog.

The blood of our four-legged friend will also be tested for the presence of Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin. You will also need to take a stool or vomit sample to check for the toxin.

Chest x-rays may be needed to monitor lung and upper gastrointestinal health, as botulism poisoning has the ability to paralyze respiratory muscles.


For treatment, a type C antitoxin for botulism will be given, which serves to neutralize the toxin and prevent progression of the disease. Additional treatment will depend on the severity of your pet’s condition.

A cat that is only mildly affected may need to be hospitalized for food and fluids administered intravenously. A critically ill animal that has difficulty breathing due to paralysis of the respiratory muscles should be closely monitored in an intensive care unit.

A stomach tube may be needed to feed it, and in the worst case, the animal may need a ventilator to help it breathe. Total recovery from botulism poisoning typically takes one to three weeks. Other findings have assessed that the Botulinum homeopathic remedy is very useful.

How to prevent botulism in cats

It is important never to allow your pet to eat animal carcasses or raw meat in poor condition. Some people mistakenly believe that because cats and dogs are able to handle a much larger bacterial load than humans, they can therefore eat anything and not be sick.

But all of this is absolutely not true, your cat could, like all of us, get food poisoned. That’s why it’s never a good idea to feed your pet something that may not be good or refrigerated for several weeks. Remember that when in doubt, it is best to throw it away.

How to safely feed your pet raw food

Let’s start with the fact that botulism is rare in pets and is the simple result of rotten and absolutely not raw meat. Feeding your cat a diet of raw and fresh meat is a more appropriate and very safe diet, despite what you may think and hear.

To prevent parasites (worms, hookworms, solitaire, etc.) from invading your homemade pet’s raw food, simply avoid including the intestines, stomach, and small and large intestines, in the meat mixture that prepare for your cat. These are the organs that house parasites.

If you are planning to buy commercially available raw pet foods, the bowels have already been eliminated. Muscle meat is used to prepare raw food diets and is sterilized, except in rare cases where parasites escape from the gastrointestinal tract (intestine) such as, for example, some parasites such as Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis in cats, may enter the muscle meat and make your pet sick.

That’s why you should always freeze raw meats (the amount of time varies for different parasites, three weeks will kill all varieties) before feeding your cat. Know that by freezing meats before serving and eliminating the bowels, you could avoid exposing your pets to parasites, promoting botulism.

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