All You Need to Know About Ethanol Poisoning in Cats


Image Credits:


Ethanol is a common substance found in households. It is a prime ingredient in alcoholic beverages and it is used as a solvent for medicines. Even though we enjoy having the occasional glass of wine or beer, it is vital that we keep them away from our cats. Cats canโ€™t process ethanol and can have severe implications when exposed to it through the skin or orally.

What causes ethanol poisoning?

Cats suffer from ethanol poisoning when they consume the following substances:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Antifreeze
  • Medications containing alcohol
  • Mouthwash and perfumes
  • Uncooked pizza or bread dough
  • Varnish and paint

The gastrointestinal tract of cats quickly absorbs ethanol and sends it to the brain. N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptors found in the brain get inhibited. Communication between brain cells gets blocked because of the impact on production of cyclic guanosine monophosphate.

Symptoms of ethanol poisoning

The following symptoms occur within an hour after ingestion:

  • Ataxia
  • Dehydration
  • Hypothermia
  • Lethargy
  • Metabolic acidosis
  • Sedation
  • Vomiting

As ethanol poisoning can affect the central nervous system, the cat can become unconscious and experience respiratory depression. If your feline friend ate uncooked pizza or bread dough, the abdomen can swell up. They can also suffer from kidney failure about 12 โ€“ 24 hours after ingesting ethanol. If you see your cat exhibiting the above-mentioned symptoms, take them to the vet immediately.


The main factor for determining the type of treatment depends on how much time has passed since the cat ingested ethanol. Treatments aim to decrease the rate of absorption of ethanol in the intestines.If the cat has been taken to the vet within an hour or two, induced vomiting is one type of treatment. If ethanol has already been absorbed by the intestine, liquids will be administered to increase production of urine and prevent dehydration. To ensure fluid therapy is going according to plan, a venous catheter will be placed.Within the next fourteen hours, they will undergo eight to nine treatments. To maintain good levels of pH in the urine, sodium bicarbonate will be given. Medicines will be administered intravenously during all treatments.If the body absorbed ethanol, the chances of kidney failure increase. Electrolytes, fluids, and even dialysis will be given at this stage to treat the kitty.


If the cat received treatment within three hours, the chances of full recovery are good. Once the initial treatment has been successful, the symptoms should recede within eight to twelve hours. The vet will monitor blood, body acidity, and urine pH measurements till the cat is completely out of danger. Make sure that your cat gets all the necessary


after the recovery.As cats are extremely curious animals, we need to keep ethanol products from them as far away as possible. Lock the products away in containers or cabinets to prevent cats from getting their 'paws' on ethanol.

Was this article helpful?
comments powered by Disqus

You May Also Like