Iron is a necessary element in the formation of red blood cells. Many of the vitamins and supplements available for our cats contain some amount of iron. While some may be needed, as with many things, too much iron can cause serious health problems for your cat.

Any ingredient in a supplement that includes the word "ferrous" has some quantity of iron in it. Ferrous simply means that it contains iron. There are four types of iron that can cause severe toxicity in your cat:

  • Ferrous fumarate
  • Ferrous phosphate
  • Ferrous sulfate
  • Ferrous carbonate

Any of these forms can cause serious damage to a cat’s intestines and even their stomach as well. It can also be the causative factor in heart damage and can lead to Cat Liver Disease. The accumulation of iron will increase if a cat cannot rid their bodies of the iron that is present.


Initial Symptoms (within six hours after consuming toxic dose of iron)

While it may seem that your cat has recovered over the course of a day, chances are better than average that they have not.

The symptoms can return along along with the following:

  • bleeding disorders
  • liver failure
  • coma
  • shock

Diagnosing the Problem

Although you may notice these symptoms at home, your safest action will be to take your cat to the veterinarian. There tests can be performed to check the blood levels of the iron. The veterinarian can also take x-rays to investigate the possibility of iron in the intestines. Along with iron level blood testing, your vet will also check for liver and kidney damage.

Treating Iron Toxicity

  • If your cat consumed the iron just prior to your visit to the vet, the first step will be pumping out the contents of your cat’s stomach or by inducing vomiting. This will help to remove the iron from your cat’s digestive tract.
  • Intravenous fluids will be initiated.
  • A medication called deferoxamine can change some of the iron into a less toxic material that will not cause harm to your cat.
  • Your cat’s blood levels will be monitored for several days, as it often takes that long for the levels to go back below the toxic level.


Prevention is the best protector of iron toxicity. Cats should not be given iron supplements unless they are ordered by the veterinarian. Keep those "pet friendly" tasty supplements out of reach of your cat. Keeping all medications stored out of reach of pets and children can prevent many tragedies.

If your cat has been diagnosed with iron toxicity and is treated, they may still not be totally "cured". It is possible that their liver or digestive systems will require you to administer medications for the rest of their lives. Their diet may also have to be changed to one that is more appropriate for their conditions.

Human supplements and vitamins can be fatal to your cat. Keep all medications out of reach of your cat as well as any children in your home.


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