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Cat Care: Understanding Mycotoxicosis

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Food or organic matter that's become contaminated by fungi is poisonous to cats. Mycotoxicosis occurs when a cat ingests fungi and is exposed to mycotoxins released by the fungi. Commonly found substances that can cause mycotoxicosis in cats include mouldy bread, garden mushrooms and decomposing scraps of food in compost piles, and your cat doesn't have to consume a large quantity of food contaminated by fungi to become ill. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment approach for mycotoxicosis in cats:


Symptoms of mycotoxicosis can vary depending on the type of fungi ingested, but mycotoxins can wreak havoc on your cat's body. Common symptoms include vomiting, muscle tremors, lethargy, fever and loss of appetite. Without prompt treatment, your cat can experience respiratory distress, seizures, loss of co-ordination and an increased heart rate. Additionally, ingesting large amounts of fungi can cause organ damage and be fatal to your cat.

Diagnosis And Treatment Approach

Your vet will diagnose mycotoxicosis by taking details of your cat's symptoms and analysing a sample of their blood. A chemical blood profile will show if mycotoxins are in your cat's bloodstream. They may also test a urine sample or sample of your cat's vomit for the presence of toxins, and you can help speed up the diagnostic process by taking a sample of your cat's vomit to the vet surgery, if this is possible.

Treatment for mycotoxicosis involves removing the poison from your cat's system as quickly as possible, and your cat will need to stay at the vet surgery for a few days for observation after treatment. Your vet will wash out your cat's stomach using a procedure known as gastric lavage. This is typically carried out under general anaesthetic and involves a thin tube being inserted into your cat's stomach through a small abdominal incision. Large volumes of water are pumped into your cat's stomach to clean it out, and the toxins will be flushed out through their back passage with the water.

Activated charcoal is an alternative treatment option that may be recommended if your vet thinks the poison could already have passed through your cat's stomach to their intestines. This treatment approach does not require anaesthetic or sedation as long as your cat is willing to take the charcoal infusion, which is administered as a drink. Activated charcoal binds to toxins in the intestines and prevents them being absorbed. Toxins are safely removed from your cat's body when they have a bowel movement.

If you suspect your cat has ingested mycotoxins, take them to a vet surgery immediately to prevent unnecessary suffering or damage to their organs.