The purpose of this text is to offer a great high quality, correct, simply comprehensible abstract of the main points about lead poisoning, with a specific deal with the danger to cats.

About Lead Poisoning In Cats

Lead poisoning is uncommon in cats (it’s ten to thirty occasions extra widespread in canine), partly as a result of cats are typically finicky eaters, so they’re much less more likely to ingest lead in comparison with canine. In as much as 90% of instances, when lead poisoning is recognized, the supply of the lead stays a thriller.

That stated, there are particular conditions the place sources of lead could also be recognized.

  • Ingestion of lead-containing paint chips or lead paint mud (e.g. in the course of the renovation of previous homes: lead-containing paint was banned in most locations within the Seventies).
  • Ingestion of small lead objects in prey (e.g. resembling angling sinkers in fish, or lead shot in prey animals like rabbits)
  • Areas with excessive lead ranges within the setting, together with the soil and water (e.g. close to industrial complexes like smelters)#
  • Other doable sources of lead embrace lead solder, automobile batteries, lead window putty, previous golf balls, and a few forms of previous linoleum. Exposure to those not directly may be linked to steer toxicity.

Symptoms Of Lead Poisoning In Cats

Non-specific scientific indicators resembling belly ache, dullness, and inappetence/ anorexia, in addition to gastrointestinal indicators (e.g. vomiting or constipation), and weight reduction, are mostly seen.

Other signs embrace indicators linked to the nervous system (seizures, ataxia, and conduct modifications resembling excitability and aggression, in addition to blindness, head urgent, and circling). Rarer indicators embrace megaesophagus, linked to regurgitation.

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Diagnosis Of Lead Poisoning In Cats

The indicators of lead poisoning in cats will usually be non-specific.

Sometimes, there could also be a historical past of identified lead publicity (e.g. renovation of an previous home) the place the hazard has been recognized. More usually, the indicators will likely be non-specific, and the veterinarian will perform an investigation to make the prognosis.

Detailed History Taking

Your DVM veterinarian will focus on each facet of your cat’s life, on the lookout for clues that will embrace doable publicity to a supply of lead. Young animals and small animals could also be extra inclined to steer poisoning than older, bigger cats.

Physical Examination

Your veterinarian will examine your cat over fastidiously, ruling out different causes of the indicators which might be being proven. An in depth neurological examination will likely be carried out.

Routine Blood Tests And Other Laboratory Work

Your veterinarian could recommend blood checks, together with the standard panel of diagnostic checks, resembling hematology (full blood depend) and biochemistry profiles, to substantiate that there isn’t any different underlying sickness affecting your cat.

Abnormalities attributable to lead poisoning embrace anemia, irregular purple blood cells, and typically different modifications in hematology. Elevated liver enzymes are typically seen, and there could also be a sample of different biochemical modifications, resembling elevations of urea, creatinine, glucose, and ldl cholesterol.

Urinalysis may additionally be carried out, with some cats having urine that’s extra diluted than regular (hyposthenuria).


If a cat has ingested lead (e.g. in prey) then proof could also be seen within the type of lead within the gastrointestinal tract on x-rays.

Specific Tests To Measure Lead Levels

A definitive prognosis of lead poisoning requires the measurement of the lead ranges in a blood pattern, measuring blood lead concentrations in components per million (ppm). Lead urine ranges may additionally be discovered to be elevated, and barely, ranges of lead within the tissues could also be reviewed.

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Treatment Of Lead Poisoning In Cats

The precedence initially is to stabilise any indicators of lead poisoning, alongside the anti-emetic therapy and any particular therapy to take away lead from the physique.

The precedence initially is to stabilise any indicators of lead poisoning (e.g. anti-seizure remedy together with diazepam for a cat that’s having seizures). Anti-emetic therapy must be given to cease vomiting, and intravenous fluids could also be administered as common assist.

Specific therapy to take away lead from the physique is commonly additionally carried out, with the main points relying on the suspected trigger.

  • If there may be lead mud or flakes within the cat’s coat, then the cat could also be washed to take away these and to forestall additional ingestion by self-grooming.
  • If there may be lead within the digestive tract, this can be eliminated by strategies inducing vomiting, gastric lavage, laxatives, or by performing enemas.
  • If there may be lead within the tissues (e.g. lead shot pellets) these could also be surgically eliminated.

Chelation Therapy

If the supply of the lead is eliminated, and blood ranges should not falling, so-called chelation remedy could also be tried. This is a chemical course of when a chelating agent is launched orally, rectally, or by injection with the purpose of eradicating metals from the physique.

Different merchandise are used:

  • Calcium EDTA – by subcutaneous or intravenous injection
  • Succimer or penicillamine – given orally


The prognosis is determined by the severity of the indicators, and the extent of lead publicity.

Regular monitoring of blood lead ranges could also be really useful, and chelation remedy could must be repeated intermittently for weeks and even months.

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Prevention Of Lead Poisoning In Cat

If cats stay in an previous home (pre-1970’s), they need to be excluded from areas which might be being renovated. Cats shouldn’t be knowingly uncovered to steer sources (e.g. don’t let kittens play with lead fishing weights).


Lead poisoning is a selected prognosis linked to publicity to steer. A toxicology workup is required to make this prognosis, and as soon as the issue has been recognized, particular therapy may be given.

​Frequently Asked Questions

​What are the signs of lead poisoning in cats?

The indicators are sometimes non particular, however neurological indicators together with blindness and seizures are typical.

​Can cats die from lead?

In extreme instances of lead poisoning, dying is feasible, however chelation remedy is profitable in over 70% of instances.

​How lengthy does it take to get lead poisoning?

Exposure to excessive ranges of lead could cause fast indicators of toxicity, however this tends to be linked extra to long run publicity.

​How does lead have an effect on pets?

Lead impacts the chemistry of the blood, nervous system and the blood cells, resulting in particular indicators of poisoning.

Are people in danger from lead poisoning?

If a cat is recognized with lead poisoning, people sharing the identical setting ought to focus on the problem with their medical medical doctors, particularly in instances involving being pregnant or younger youngsters.


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