Can Cats Eat Silica Gel or Beads? (Solved & Explained!)

Silica gel or beads are usually found with certain commercial products to help keep them dry and potentially in moist situations. You’ve probably noticed the little white bag in the furniture you bought, but what happens if your cat tries to eat some of the beads or the gel inside?

Clear Silica gel isn’t poisonous to your cat, whereas colored silica gel can be, depending on the chemicals coating it. However, it can cause vomiting and other digestive problems because your cat’s digestive system cannot digest the silica gel. It’s best to contact your vet if you think your cat has eaten any silica gel or beads. 

Let’s discover what happens if your cat eats silica gel or beads and what you should do to help them through any of the symptoms they might have. 

silica gel pouches with exposed beads

Is Silica Gel Toxic for Cats?

Clear Silica gel is not toxic to cats, but it can cause other issues such as vomiting, abdominal pain, and inappetence. Most of the problems that come with your cat ingesting silica gel or beads are that it can get trapped in their throat or their intestines because it isn’t digestible. You should contact your veterinarian immediately if you think your cat has eaten silica gel.

Silica gel that you have to be cautious of is the colored silica gel. While the clear silica gel beads are entirely non-toxic, the colored ones can have any number of chemicals coating them, which could be more harmful and toxic for your cat. You’ll have to look at the packaging that the silica gel comes in to narrow down what those chemicals are.

Blue silica gel has cobalt chloride coating, which is common in kitty litter and changes color from blue to pink when exposed to water. Cobalt chloride can not only cause skin sensitivity but is possibly also a carcinogen which means it can cause cancer in some cases.

Green silica gel has a coating of Methyl Violet or Crystal Violet, and it will turn from green to orange when it comes into contact with water. Ingesting Crystal violet may increase a cat’s risk of cancer.

silica gel pouches on table

Can Cats Choke on Silica Gel or Beads?

Silica gel and beads are usually relatively small, which means they aren’t as likely to get stuck in your cat’s windpipe to cause choking. However, your cat might panic because of the symptoms that they’re feeling and then end up using choking as a way to try and call some cells to vomit in order to get the silica gel out of their system. 

Suppose you notice that your cat is having trouble breathing or is forcing itself to vomit a lot. In that case, it’s essential that you take your cat to the vet immediately as there may be some other reason that they are having trouble breathing, such as chemicals coating the silica gel or some different reaction.

What Happens If Your Cat Eats Silica Gel or Beads?

In most cases, the symptoms you are going to see when your cat eats silica gel are vomiting and Other signs of abdominal pain. You could also see your cat showing signs of choking because the silica beads have gotten trapped in their throat, and they may need help dislodging the beads.

Some symptoms to look out for are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy or sleeping more

If your cat eats the blue silica gel, then there are going to be minimal symptoms if they’re only ingesting a small portion of it. Some of these symptoms are nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. However, if you notice that your cat has ingested a large amount, then there could be more severe effects, such as blistering in the esophagus.

To learn more about cobalt chloride ingestion, you can check the safety data sheet (SDS) from Harper College. 

If your cat eats the green silica gel, then there may be some discomfort and other issues with its digestive tract. You should try and rinse their mouth out with water if you can but don’t try to induce vomiting unless you’re vet tells you so.

You can learn more about methyl violet ingestion and its first aid on its SDS. 

What to Do If Your Cat Eats Silica Gel or Beads

The first step if you think your cat has eaten some silica gel is to contact your vet as soon as possible. They will either talk you through what they think that you should do or prepare for you to show up at the vet so that your cat can get the care that it needs.

Just remember to stay, since clear silica gel is non-toxic, and even colored silica gel in small amounts isn’t going to cause a massive threat to your cat.

In most cases, the silica gel will pass through their system while they might feel ill leading up to that point. There is a slight chance that the silica gel could cause an obstruction in your cat’s digestive tract, but that’s only in sporadic cases. If you want to encourage it to pass through, then you could use hairball gel to give them quicker release.

Once you notice that your cat is throwing up, having diarrhea, or even see bleeding of some kind, then it’s vital that you or even see bleeding of some sort then it’s crucial that you keep a close eye on them and make a note of those symptoms so that you can give them to a vet keep a close eye on them and make a note of those symptoms.

Conclusion

While the clear silica gel is not toxic to cats and even the colored silica gel will cause some other symptoms but is unlikely to cause any severe or fatal damage to your pet, it’s best to try and keep them as far away from any of the silica products as possible. If you do suspect that your pet has eaten some, contact your vet immediately.