Household Hazards for cats

Many see their feline friend as a picky eater, however curiosity and frequent grooming can land them in trouble. Poisoning in cats is not uncommon and even a small amount of some toxins can be fatal.

Cats have less liver enzymes which can make them more sensitive to toxins. Their small size and secretive nature can mean poisoning isn't always picked up quickly.


Curious Cats

Most cats are poisoned from ingesting toxins, they may eat something or groom contaminated fur. Some toxins can be absorbed through the skin or through the respiratory tract.


Signs to watch out for

  • Vomiting or diarrhoea

  • Drooling/ hypersalivating

  • Ulcerated mouth

  • Neurological problems like tremors and seizures

  • Breathing problems

  • Stop eating/ drinking

  • Lethargy

  • Weight loss

Depending on the toxin, signs can come on both quickly and slowly.


If you suspect your cat has been poisoned contact your vet immediately. Treatment is often time sensitive and the sooner the better. If your cat has eaten something strange your vet may need to contact the Veterinary Poisons Information Service, they can usually give an action plan and prognosis.


Fur contamination

Always phone your vet immediately, if your cat has been covered in a substance your vet may advise you wash your cat immediately to remove contaminants before coming in to prevent further ingestion. The best thing to use to wash the cat at home is washing up liquid .


Toxin ingestion

If your cat has eaten something it shouldn't contact your vet immediately. Do not attempt to make your cat sick as this may make things worse.


Common household toxins

  • Plants- Poinsettia, Any part of the Lilly is poisonous, a common occurrence is the pollen and the cat brushes past it or walks through it and grooms it off and ingests it that way, but eating any of the plant is dangerous and can cause kidney failure. Immediate veterinary attention is required.

  • Onions, garlic, chives, leeks, shallots - ingestion of these can cause destruction of red blood cells causing anaemia and lethargy.

  • Chocolate and caffine can cause vomiting and diarrhoea and theobromine is a toxic substance in chocolate that can lead to seizures, trembling, heart problems and coma.

  • Paracetamol, ibuprofen and other human pain killers can be fatal with just one tablet. It damages red blood cells causing anaemia, problems breathing and liver failure.

  • Dog flea treatment with permethrin this is found in flea and tick treatment and occasionally an owner will accidentally apply a dog treatment to their cat or their cat licks the treatment off the dog. This causes drooling and life threatening seizures.

  • Raisins and grapes can cause rapid kidney failure, lethargy and vomiting.

  • Antifreeze is appealing to cats as it tastes sweet, the compound ethylene glycol is very toxic to cats. Just a couple of drops can be very serious and even fatal. It causes kidney damage and failure and signs are vomiting, drooling, no eating, urinating excessively.

  • Xylitol is a sweetener used in sugar free products.

Keeping your cat safe

It is mostly about common sense, don't leave things lying about and accessible. Prevention is always better than cure.

If you have any suspicions your cat has had access to poisonous substance contact your vet immediately and give them as much information about the toxin as possible.

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