Ibuprofen Toxicity in Cats: Know the Dangers

Ibuprofen is a widely-used over-the-counter medication known for its effectiveness in reducing pain and inflammation in humans. However, when it comes to cats, ibuprofen can be extremely toxic, with even a single tablet potentially causing fatal kidney failure. In this article, we will explore the dangers of ibuprofen toxicity in cats, how to recognize the symptoms, and what steps to take if you suspect your cat has ingested this harmful substance.

What to Watch For

It’s crucial to be aware of the signs that may indicate ibuprofen toxicity in cats. Keep a close eye on your feline companion for any of the following symptoms:

  • Poor appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Black tarry stools
  • Vomiting blood
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately.


If you suspect your cat has been exposed to ibuprofen, a veterinarian will conduct a physical examination and inquire about the cat’s access to the medication. Blood tests may also be performed to assess the overall health of your cat. These tests can reveal anemia resulting from bleeding ulcers or kidney damage caused by ibuprofen ingestion.


Treating ibuprofen toxicity in cats requires prompt and professional care. Typically, hospitalization with continuous intravenous fluids is recommended. If the ingestion was recent (within two hours), activated charcoal may be administered to minimize toxin absorption. In cases where the cat is severely anemic due to bleeding ulcers, blood transfusions may be necessary. Medications such as sucralfate (Carafate®), cimetidine (Tagamet®), or famotidine (Pepcid®) will be prescribed to address stomach ulcers. After one to two days of treatment, follow-up blood work may be conducted to evaluate kidney function.

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Home Care and Prevention

It’s important to note that there is no safe home care for ibuprofen toxicity in cats. Veterinary care is essential to address kidney failure and bleeding stomach ulcers. While your cat is recovering, it’s advisable to feed them a bland diet for a day or two, gradually transitioning back to their regular diet. Keep a watchful eye for any signs of eating difficulties, continued vomiting, or black tarry stools.

The best way to prevent ibuprofen toxicity in cats is to only administer medications as directed by your veterinarian. Remember, medications that might be safe for humans can be fatal for pets. Additionally, ensure that all medications are securely stored out of your pets’ reach. Taking these precautions can help prevent tragic incidents.

Understanding the Toxicity

Ibuprofen belongs to a class of drugs called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medications work by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, which are involved in various bodily functions, including inflammation, kidney blood flow regulation, and stomach lining protection. While NSAIDs effectively reduce inflammation and pain, they also affect prostaglandins responsible for normal kidney function and stomach protection. This is why ibuprofen can be toxic to pets, including cats.

Signs of ibuprofen toxicity can include vomiting, depression, anorexia, diarrhea, and stumbling. Cats are particularly susceptible to the stomach ulcer effect of ibuprofen. Stomach ulcers can develop within 12 hours of ingestion, while severe kidney impairment can occur within 12 to 120 hours. In severe cases, seizures may occur.

Treatment Options

The severity of the toxicity determines the course of treatment. For stomach ulcers, hospitalization with intravenous fluids is often necessary. Stomach protectants such as famotidine (Pepcid®), cimetidine (Tagamet®), misoprostol (Cytotec®), and sucralfate (Carafate®) are prescribed to address ulcers. In cases of severe bleeding ulcers resulting in anemia, blood transfusions may be required. Surgery may be necessary for perforating ulcers to remove the perforation and treat any abdominal infections.

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For kidney failure, hospitalization with intravenous fluids is crucial for a successful outcome. After 48 hours of continuous fluid therapy, blood tests are repeated to assess kidney function. Unfortunately, if there is no urine production, the prognosis is typically grave. In cases of massive overdose leading to neurologic abnormalities like seizures, anti-convulsant medications such as diazepam may be used.

Remember, prompt veterinary care is essential when it comes to ibuprofen toxicity in cats. If you suspect your cat has ingested ibuprofen, contact your veterinarian immediately. Do not attempt to treat your cat at home without professional guidance.

For more information about cat health and well-being, please visit the official website of Katten TrimSalon.