Toxic plants

Is Tobacco Toxic To Cats? 

by Clair Chesterman
Is Tobacco Toxic to Cats

Tobacco plants contain hazardous chemicals such as nicotine, anabasine, anatabine, germacrene, and nornicotine which are harmful to cats. Because cats are small animals, even a few milligrams of nicotine can be fatal; nicotine quickly enters the bloodstream, liver, and intestines.

Poisoning symptoms might emerge in as short as fifteen minutes or as long as an hour and a half after your cat consumes any component of the tobacco plant. You’ll probably notice your cat is excited and hyperactive before any other symptoms appear.

What Is Tobacco?

Tobacco with a cat hissing at it

Tobacco refers to the cured leaf of Nicotiana tabacum and, to a lesser extent, Aztec tobacco (N. rustica), which is used for smoking, chewing, snuffing, and nicotine extraction after being aged and processed in various ways. Several more Nicotiana species, together known as flowering tobaccos, are planted as ornamentals.

Tobacco is grown all throughout the world, despite its tropical origins. From the time of transplanting to field maturity, cultivated tobacco (N. tabacum) requires a frost-free period of 100 to 130 days. Aztec tobacco (N. rustica), which is grown in India, Vietnam, and certain Transcaucasian nations, develops faster and has a higher potency than cultivated tobacco.

Clinical Signs of Tobacco Poisoning in Cats

Tobacco and cats

Nicotine is a slow-acting toxin, so if the feline has taken a large amount of it, death could occur before clinical indications appear. The following are clinical symptoms to keep an eye out for:

  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Slow pulse
  • Dizziness 
  • Malaise 
  • Hyperexcitability 
  • Depression
  • Collapse 
  • Myalgia 
  • Diaphoresis 
  • Mental confusion 
  • Hypertension 
  • Loss of coordination 
  • Respiratory muscle paralysis 
  • Respiratory failure 
  • Weakness
  • Asystole 
  • Death

First Aid and Treatment of Tobacco Poisoning in Cats

Cat looks at tobacco plant

Your veterinarian will conduct a differential diagnosis to rule out any other possible causes for the feline’s symptoms. A physical examination, a review of the feline’s medical history, and a consultation with the pet owner will all precede the diagnostic process.

The vet may initially induce vomiting to get the rest of the plant out of your cat’s stomach. He will also give your cat activated charcoal, which neutralizes the poisons in the tobacco. 

If your cat has suffered from continuous vomiting and diarrhea, the vet may administer fluids and electrolytes to help her rehydrate and restore her electrolyte storage.

Your cat may also be given atropine to treat symptoms of irregular heartbeat. Other prescribed medications may be also given depending on the cat’s condition.

If your cat has been exposed to enough tobacco plants to cause breathing problems, she may be given oxygen. Depending on her condition, she may need to be admitted to the hospital for the night.

Recovery from Tobacco Poisoning in Cats

The best results come from prompt veterinary care. Because the toxins can have long-term consequences, your cat will need to return to the vet for follow-up consultations. While your cat is recovering, make sure she has a quiet place to rest and recuperate.

Prevention of Tobacco Poisoning in Cats

Be cautious in using products containing nicotine. Keep them in a place that your cat cannot access. If tobacco plants are growing nearby your place, it is best to limit your cat’s access outdoors. This will reduce the risk of exposure to toxic plants.

If you love plants but have cats at home, check out these lists:

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