Are Mushrooms Poisonous to Cats?

by Tara Green, Demand Media
    If you let your cat outdoors, try to remove wild mushrooms from your yard.

    If you let your cat outdoors, try to remove wild mushrooms from your yard.

    Your cat will probably suffer no ill effects if she nibbles some store-bought mushrooms. However, some wild mushrooms are toxic to cats. Learn the symptoms of mushroom poisoning so you can act quickly if your feline accidentally ingests the wrong type of fungus.

    Removing Potential Dangers

    If your cat roams outdoors, she may supplement the food you give her with small animals she can catch, wild plants and other things with funky smells, such as fungi. Check your yard each morning, as mushrooms pop up overnight. Remove any that you see before your cat notices them.

    If You Suspect Mushroom Poisoning

    Mushroom poisoning has four levels of severity, and it can be difficult to distinguish less severe poisoning from the early stages of the worst poisoning. When symptoms occur, seek veterinary assistance immediately. If possible, bring the mushroom your cat consumed to aid in determining the severity of the poisoning.

    Least Severe Symptoms

    In the least severe level of mushroom poisoning, an affected cat experiences temporary gastrointestinal irritation including vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms may appear within six hours of ingesting the mushrooms and may last for approximately 24 hours.

    Moderately Severe Symptoms

    The second category of mushroom poisoning symptoms includes both gastrointestinal distress and muscarinic effects, caused by mushrooms containing muscarine, a substance toxic to cats. Muscarinic signs in the second level of mushroom toxicity include constricted pupils, slowed heartbeat and excessive salivation. Take your cat to the vet immediately if you observe these symptoms.

    Most Severe Symptoms

    The third most serious level of mushroom poisoning in cats causes gastrointestinal issues, kidney problems and muscarinic effects including a slowed heart rate, severe abdominal pains or tremors. An affected cat may also seem lethargic or depressed. Seizures and bleeding disorders may occur as a result of damage to the liver. Prompt treatment may save the cat's life, so act quickly. Depending on the degree of liver damage, however, this level of poisoning can prove fatal.

    Hallucinations

    Another severe mushroom poisoning symptom that can occur in animals is hallucinations. If your cat exhibits unusual behavior that may indicate she is "high," such as walking unsteadily or drooling, take her to the vet immediately. Remember that many cats can leap onto high surfaces and are able to use their paws to open doors and compartments in handbags and backpacks -- so make sure your cat cannot gain access to any mushrooms or other potentially hallucinatory substances.

    References

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