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Home > Cats > What to Do if My Cat Ate Aluminum Foil? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

What to Do if My Cat Ate Aluminum Foil? Vet Approved Facts & FAQ

crumpled sheet of aluminum foil

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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It’s a well-known fact that cats are not fond of aluminum foil, but it is a sensory and textural issue, not because it’s toxic. Aluminum foil is a common household staple used for cooking, covering, and wrapping up leftovers. If you have made the mistake of leaving your foil-wrapped leftovers on the counter, your cat will likely push through its foil discomfort and rip into it anyway. What should you do if your cat has torn into your leftovers and ingested some aluminum foil?

A tiny amount of foil may not cause any harm, but a significant amount have fatal consequences. You are likely unsure how much your cat ingested, so it’s best to call the vet immediately.

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Your Cat Ate Aluminum Foil, Here’s What to Do!

If your cat has swallowed a tiny amount of aluminum foil, it is likely harmless and should pass through with no complications, providing that you feed them a high-fiber diet to help bulk their stools. You you should still monitor your kitty and watch for any signs of potential problems such as distress, vomiting, illness, and constipation.

If your cat has eaten a large amount of aluminum foil, you must call your vet immediately for guidance. First, check your cat’s breathing. Aluminum foil can get lodged in the throat, so any signs of abnormal breathing should be addressed immediately. Once you’ve determined that your cat is breathing normally, check their mouth in case they got any injuries from chewing on the aluminum foil. Your vet will explain what to do next. The good news is that aluminum foil is normally visible on x-rays and therefore your vet will know where the foreign body is and if it is transitioning well.1

It can take 24–72 hours for aluminum foil to pass through their stool. If your vet has asked you to monitor your cat at home, you will need to keep them inside, keeping it well-fed and hydrated. Feeding a high-fiber diet will speed intestinal transit up and will increase the volume of the stools making it less likely for the aluminum foil to cause any harm. Great high-fiber options are canned pumpkin, psyllium husk, brown bread, green beans or plain bran flakes (with no added raisins, chocolate or sugar – all of which are toxic to cats). If at any point while you are monitoring your cat they are acting strangely, you should see your vet.

A small gray kitten plays with foil and a ball
Image Credit: Olya Detry, Shutterstock

Is Aluminum Foil Dangerous for Cats?

Aluminum foil is a foreign object that is non-toxic but can be dangerous to your cat. If your cat has sniffed around your leftover food and given it a lick, you won’t need to be concerned. Aluminum foil cannot be digested and can obstruct the cat’s gastrointestinal tract, which can be fatal if not treated immediately. It is also possible that the foil could get stuck in your cat’s throat, causing a choking hazard.

Crumpled foil can have sharp edges, which can damage the lining of your cat’s stomach, intestines, and possibly the inside of its mouth.

Beware that certain foods that could be wrapped in aluminum foil in your kitchen could be highly toxic to cats.2 If your cat had access to human foods like garlic, onion, chocolate or raisins you should contact your vet straight away since all these food items can have severe consequences in your kitty.

a sick or sad looking cat lying on a blanket
Image Credit: Julia Cherk, Shutterstock

Symptoms of Intestinal Blockage

As we mentioned before, the biggest danger is that your cat has ingested a large amount of aluminum foil that may cause an obstruction. Here are some symptoms that indicate your cat may have an intestinal blockage.3

  • Vomiting
  • Retching
  • Drooling
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Distended abdomen
  • Straining to pass stool
  • Lethargy
  • Hiding
  • Weight loss

If you observe any of these symptoms in your cat after ingesting foil, get your cat to the vet immediately.

cat vomit in grass
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

How To Keep Your Cat Safe From Aluminum Foil

Cats are known for not liking aluminum foil because of its crumpling sound, but its shiny reflection may be enticing. Of course, if a tasty smell comes from the foil, your cat will likely be curious.

Here are some tips to keep your cat safe from aluminum foil:
  • Store the foil in your cupboard when it’s not in use.
  • Don’t leave food wrapped in foil on your counter.
  • If you are defrosting food with a foil wrapping, leave it in the fridge.
  • Crumple used foil into a ball before throwing it in the garbage.
  • Always check for pieces of foil on your counter or floor when you have finished using it.

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Conclusion

Aluminum foil is not usually something your cat would be interested in, but it suddenly becomes very enticing when it’s holding some delicious leftovers. If your cat licks the foil or tears off a small piece while trying to get inside, you most likely won’t have anything to worry about. Whatever your cat ingested will probably pass through easily but you will have to feed them a special diet and keep a close eye on them for a few days. If your cat has ingested a large amount, you will need to call the vet for guidance and monitor your cat closely in the meantime. Ensure that foil is out of your cat’s reach at all times, especially if something tasty is wrapped in it.


Featured Image Credit: Engin Akyurt, Pixabay

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