Paracetamol poisoning in cats: symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

Paracetamol poisoning in cats is an emergency situation, let’s see the cause, symptoms and treatment to save the feline.

Despite the fact that the cat is famous for the ability it has to take care of its hygiene and to self-medicate in case it feels bad, our love for the four-legged friend, often makes us make very serious mistakes towards our animal.

Wrongly enough, some people think they can treat their cat themselves without consulting the vet. Self-medication is a bad habit we use about ourselves and our animal friends.

The biggest mistake that can be made is acetaminophen poisoning in cats. Let’s see in the next paragraphs what the causes, symptoms, treatment and prognosis of this bad situation for the cat.

Is acetaminophen for cats correct?

Paracetamol comes in many forms and can harm our pets. This includes liquid formulas for children, tablets and powders in sachets. This drug, which is easily obtained without a prescription, is generally used for pain relief.

Paracetamol is the most commonly prescribed drug in humans. It is present in almost all homes and is very widespread and therefore also widely used by man to combat pain or fever. But do you know that this drug is highly toxic to cats? Paracetamol poisoning in cats causes feline death with just one tablet in some cases.

Remember never to give medicines to dogs or cats for human use as they can react very differently to us. The cat is very sensitive to paracetamol, much more than dogs and humans.

In all species, paracetamol is digested by the liver, but for the cat it happens differently and unfortunately, this results in a toxic substance that leads to serious complications. There is severe liver damage and a reduction in the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body.

Cause of paracetamol poisoning in cats

Paracetamol poisoning in cats is generally the result of self-medication by the owner or, more rarely, of accidental ingestion by the cat. A single dose of 600 mg can be lethal in our animal, as it also causes liver failure.

The administration of paracetamol to our cat to avoid pain or fever is another of the most common cases of feline poisoning. The administration takes place because the owner gives it to the cat when he sees him down, in pain (falls, stomach) or thinks the cat may have a fever.

Very rarely a cat can eat a pill on its own perhaps because it has fallen to the ground or been left unattended by the owner. The poor cat can experience toxicity levels as low as 10 mg per kg of body weight.


In cats, due to unknown causes, the clinical symptoms are similar to those caused by an allergic reaction. The most common signs that can be triggered by paracetamol poisoning in cats are the following, about one to two hours after ingestion:

  • swollen face, neck, or limbs;
  • gums of gray-brownish color;
  • wheezing of the cat;
  • hypothermia (abnormally low body temperature);
  • He retched;
  • jaundice (yellowish color on the skin, whites of the eyes), due to liver damage.

Treatment of paracetamol poisoning in cats

Generally, paracetamol poisoning in cats is treated as an emergency situation. If you have reason to doubt that the animal may have ingested acetaminophen, for any of the reasons described above, seek immediate medical attention, as treatment may be required.

Your vet will perform a chemical blood profile, complete blood count, and urinalysis on the cat to determine the level of toxicity so that potential treatment can be prescribed. Prompt treatment is essential to give your cat the best chance of recovery and survival.

Early treatment is imperative to give your cat the best chance of recovery and survival. If the intoxication is recent, the veterinarian may evaluate the possibility of resorting to drugs that induce vomiting, associated with the administration of activated charcoal to reduce the absorption of the ingested drug as much as possible.

The prognosis of the animal depends on the speed with which it is accompanied by the veterinarian and on the possibility of administering the antidote. A quick reaction from the owner realizing that his cat has ingested acetaminophen or a quick report to the vet that the cat has taken this drug can save the cat’s life.

If paracetamol poisoning in the cat, if it is treated in a timely manner, will give a good prognosis. If the cat is not treated for several hours after consuming acetaminophen, it may not survive. Cats are obviously very different from humans and it is simply risky to give cats drugs for human use.

Non-prescription pain relievers useful for humans should not be given to cats. There are many cat safe pain relievers developed especially for them and are available from your vet. The doctor may recommend small doses of over-the-counter medications for animals, considering the weight of the animal and assessing the dosage. If you are concerned about your cat’s health, call your vet first.

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