What Will Happen If My Cat Drinks Alcohol Like Wine, Beer, Or Spirits?

When it comes to human beings, some alcoholic beverages have positive effects, such as those provided by the antioxidants in red wine.

However, if we’re being honest, the negatives usually outweigh the positives.

The same goes for your cat. Alcohol is dangerous!

What Will Happen If Your Cat Drinks Alcohol Like Beer Or Wine?

It depends on the amount of alcohol the kitty has ingested, on how long ago it ate, and on its overall metabolism.

For cats, a behavioral shift is the most common response to alcohol. Typically, this means the cat will become either excited or drowsy.

However, the consequences of alcohol intake actually go further than just a short-term behavioral change.

Even tiny amounts of alcohol can cause:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Metabolic acidosis (too much acid)
  • Respiratory problems
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Death

Exposure to small amounts of soft or hard liquor can severely damage your fluffy friend’s health. The medical term for what happens to your cat is ethanol toxicosis (ethanol poisoning). If left untreated, it can have lethal outcomes, regardless of your pet’s breed or age.

Ethanol poisoning can occur from beverages, as well as from alcohol-infused products like perfume, mouthwash, medication, cleaning supplies, and so forth.

Trying to give water to your pet to prevent it from dehydration and further damage won’t do anything. Cats don’t have a strong inborn sense of dehydration by default, so your kitty will likely refuse to drink.

Also, you can’t simply just give it time and attempt to wait out the side effects. If your furball starts developing any symptoms of ethanol poisoning, you should call your vet.

Symptoms Of Cat Alcohol Poisoning

The symptoms of ethanol poisoning actually resemble the ones which occur if your cat drinks antifreeze. Nausea, disorientation, vomiting, increased and uncontrollable urinating, suppressed reflexes, and a slowed-down heartbeat are the common side effects.

Alcohol suppresses the cat’s nervous system, just like it does to a human nervous system.

That’s why your pet may appear drowsy and uncoordinated or even lose consciousness. If the cat has eaten shortly before drinking alcohol, the symptoms might not occur for a few hours. However, if it has ingested ethanol on an empty stomach, the effects will kick in 10-30 minutes later.

Since a cat’s body can’t handle even tiny amounts of ethanol, your best chance at preventing a lethal outcome is to immediately call the vet.

Treatment And Management Of Your Cat Ingesting Alcohol

Be as descriptive as possible with the veterinarian. Tell the doctor what type of alcohol the kitty drank, where it came from, how much it ingests, etc. Don’t forget to mention any health disorders or medications the cat is taking.

The vet will carry out further blood tests. They will determine the acidic levels and alcohol concentration in your pet’s bloodstream.

Next, the doctor will decide if your cat needs artificial ventilation (oxygen masks), intravenous fluids (for re-hydration), cardiac therapy, or medication to lower the ethanol levels and treat the damage to your cat’s organism.

To prevent potential problems with alcohol, keep all beverages, paints, dyes, detergents, mouthwashes, and other similar products out of pet reach at all times. Make sure everything is safely stored away because you can never fully predict your pet’s curiosity or where it will want to hide the next time you’re looking the other way.

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Emily Parker

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!

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