Botulism Symptoms in Cats

No matter how adorable the begging, never feed raw meat to your sweet cat.
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You want Max's diet to be healthy, but sometimes he gets into something he shouldn't. If he adventures outdoors and has a habit of gobbling up dead critters he finds, he could be at risk for botulism. Knowing the signs of botulism could save his life.

What Is Botulism?

Botulism is a food borne illness that your cat can get if he eats contaminated food. It's caused by a toxin that is produced by the bacteria clostridium botulinum. Cats are pretty resistant to the disease, so even if he does come in contact with it he probably won't get sick. There are seven kinds of botulism, and strain C is the most likely to affect your pal. It isn't spread between humans, cats or from your cat to you. It can make him sick only if he eats it, most likely when he chows down on a dead animal or spoiled meat. Never feed raw meat to your cat, and always consult with a qualified veterinarian about the care and welfare of your pet.


What makes botulism scary is that it causes paralysis. The most obvious symptom is if Max can't move his legs, but this happens only after the disease has progressed. Muscle weakness is the earliest symptom. It starts in his back legs and progresses to his front legs and neck, eventually causing paralysis in all four legs. Symptoms occur from within a few hours of eating affected food and up to 10 days later. If Max seems to be having trouble getting around and seems clumsy, these could be the earliest warning signs of the disease. He should visit his vet immediately so treatment can start early, giving him the best chance of beating the illness.


His vet will want to know about Max's lifestyle and diet. If he has a penchant for stealing food out of the trash can or eating dead rodents in your yard, these will be clues to his vet that botulism could be to blame. X-rays will be taken of his chest to see if his lungs look healthy. In severe cases, botulism can cause paralysis of the lungs, which is usually how the disease becomes fatal.


Max will need to be hospitalized for treatment. He'll be given fluids and probably need a catheter. If the disease is severe, he might need a feeding tube for nutrition during treatment. He'll be given an antitoxin that stops it from wreaking any more havoc. It usually takes one to three weeks for your pal to recover completely once he receives the antitoxin. Earlier is always better in regards to treatment. If the disease hasn't progressed far, he'll have the best shot of survival. Prevention is key, so make sure to dispose of any dead animals you find in your yard before your curious feline finds them. Keep your trash can secure so he can't get to any spoiled meat.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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