What if My Cat Ate a Glow Stick? (Solved & Explained!)

At home, I find myself telling my dog to “drop it” more than anything else, but that doesn’t mean my cat doesn’t eat ridiculous things either. I mean, what if the cat ate a glow stick?

Glow sticks contain an extremely bitter liquid called dibutyl phthalate. It’s rarely deadly but will cause your cat to drool uncontrollably. The fluid can cause irritation, swelling, and strange behavior when ingested in larger amounts.

It sounds like a glowstick isn’t a great idea to put in your mouth – or your cats. This article will explore what the glow stick does, what symptoms to look out for, and how to take care of it at home.

My Cat Ate a Glow Stick

We love pets even when they’re dumb. My first advice is not to panic. Because glow sticks have such a bitter taste, most animals don’t try and go in for a second bite. Your cat probably didn’t ingest enough for immediate concern. Take a look at the glow stick. How much is left? Did the liquid get all over the cat?

If your cat is now glowing, you’ll need to bathe them. While one bite of the stick isn’t often harmful, you don’t want them ingesting the rest still on their fur. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to bathe a cat, but this won’t be fun.

Check to see if any of the plastic is missing. If you can’t locate any of the plastic, this could mean your cat swallowed it. While it’s not a poisoning concern, it is an abdominal obstruction concern. 

Either way, call your vet and let them know what happened. If it’s after hours, call an emergency vet office near you.

Bathing the Glow Stick off Your Cat

You can skip this step if your cat likes being in the water. But if they’re anything like my cat, this will be one heck of a job.

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Brush the Cat

Before you put your kitty in the water, you’ll want to brush them thoroughly. While this may seem like it’s spreading the glowing liquid around, it’ll make it easier to clean them once in the tub or sink. It will be easier for water to permeate the fur if there’s less of it.

Protective Equipment

Believe it or not, oven mitts (that you don’t plan on using again) are an excellent defense against an angry cat. Make sure you can still hold the soap and thoroughly lather the cat with the protective padding equipped.

If there aren’t oven mitts within reach, you can use a towel gently around the cat’s head to try and keep your pet calm.

Find Some Help

Your cat will be frustrated, and so will you. Recruit a roommate or friend to help you contain the angry kitty while you get to work washing their fur. Your helper will also need a pair of oven mitts or a towel. Safety first.

Use the Pour-Over Method

Don’t try and put your cat underwater. Instead, grab a cup or a pitcher and gently pour water over the cat’s fur. The temperature of the water should be lukewarm. Be careful not to get water in your cat’s eyes.

Use a Cat Shampoo

We’re trying to avoid poisoning, not encourage it. In concentrated amounts, many shampoos made for humans can be dangerous to our furry friends. Cat shampoos are designed to clean your cat without harming them or their skin. When rinsing, keep shampoo away from the cat’s eyes and ears.

Clean the Cat’s Face

There’s a good chance the glow stick liquid will be on the cat’s face if they bit it. Take a damp washcloth or paper towel and carefully wipe their face. Use minimal shampoo if you can’t get the liquid off with water alone.

I Bathed My Cat, but They’re Still Acting Strange

Your cat may have swallowed plastic if you removed all traces of the glow stick fluid but is still acting strangely. Blockage symptoms include decreased appetite, trouble going to the bathroom, and abdominal sensitivity.

My Cat Won’t Eat

There could be a few reasons why your cat won’t eat. If they swallowed too much glow stick liquid, their mouths and stomachs might have developed a rash or are sore. If there’s a blockage, they won’t want to eat because of discomfort or pressure.

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Try enticing kitty with wet cat food or their favorite treats. The idea is to keep them hydrated and eat. My cat loves tuna water even when she’s feeling under the weather.

My Cat Won’t Go to the Bathroom

There may be a blockage if your cat is straining to use the litter box. First, try and rehydrate them. Dehydration can cause constipation in housecats. If that doesn’t work, wait it out for around 24 hours. Call the vet if your cat doesn’t pass anything within that timeframe.

My Cat Won’t Let Me Hold Them

Some cats don’t like to be held. If yours doesn’t, you can skip this step. However, if your ordinarily cuddly cat suddenly won’t allow you to pick them up or hold them, it could signify a blockage or stomach pain.

Again, try waiting 24 hours before making any decisions. They may still be upset over the taste of the glow stick – or the bath.

My Cat is Making Strange Noises

A bowel obstruction is similar to extremely bad (and dangerous) constipation. We don’t feel that great, do we? Your kitty won’t, either. The cat may be in pain if your otherwise quiet pet begins yowling, hissing, or lashing out. Any changes in behavior can signify a potential health problem and you should discuss them with the vet.


You don’t need to worry if your cat got into a glow stick. The fluid is non-toxic in small amounts but may cause skin irritation if not immediately cleaned off. If you do need to bathe your cat, grab a friend to help you. Above all, you know your pet better than anyone else. If something seems off, contact your local vet.