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Mushroom Poisoning in Cats

By: Dr. Bari Spielman

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Mushroom poisoning occurs as a result of ingesting toxic mushrooms. Not all mushrooms are poisonous, but each type of poisonous mushroom can cause different signs of illness. Poisonous mushrooms are classified into four main categories, based on the clinical signs they cause, or into seven categories, based on the toxins they contain. The onset of clinical signs may occur anywhere from minutes to hours following ingestion.

Mushroom toxicity is most commonly associated with curious kittens.

What to Watch For

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • Jaundice (yellow skin color)
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Excess salivation

    Diagnosis

    When poisonous mushroom ingestion is suspected, initial blood tests are done to evaluate the overall health of the cat.

    High liver and kidney enzymes may be seen 24 to 48 hours after ingestion of certain mushrooms, together with low blood sugar and blood potassium levels. While these are not specific for mushroom poisoning, when coupled with known ingestion or at least suspicion of ingestion, they should alert you to the possibility.

    Since there is no specific test for mushroom poisoning, identification of mushroom parts in the vomit or stomach contents is the only definitive means for making a diagnosis of mushroom poisoning.

    Treatment

    Treatment varies, and largely depends on the specific mushroom that has been ingested and potential clinical signs associated with the mushroom. One or more of the following may be recommended.

  • Induction of vomiting
  • Administration of activated charcoal (to absorb mushroom/toxin)
  • Fluid therapy to maintain hydration
  • Treatment for kidney or liver failure if it develops
  • Treatment for seizures when present

    Home Care and Prevention

    There is no adequate home care for poisonous mushroom ingestion. If you suspect that your cat has eaten a dangerous mushroom, contact your veterinarian immediately.

    The best way to prevent ingestion of poisonous mushrooms is to keep your cat away from mushrooms. Periodically check your yard and remove any mushrooms, and do not allow your cat to roam unattended through the neighborhood.

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