Lola and Lexy's Top 5 Household Poisons for Cats | Lola The Rescued Cat
Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Lola and Lexy's Top 5 Household Poisons for Cats

Hello, and happy Tuesday! It's me, Lola, and I'm welcoming you back to another of our "Top Five" posts. In our last post, we discussed some tips on how to get your picky cat to eat. (Mommy said that was about me, but don't believe her!) Today we have another very important topic to discuss with you, household poisons.  Let's get into it! 

Top 5 Household Poisons for Cats

Lola and Lexy's Top Five Household Poisons for Cats

1. Plants

In 2019, 6.1%* of cases called into the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) were due to plants. The most severe cases for cats involved lily exposure. The smallest amount of pollen from a lily that lands on your cat's fur can be ingested. When they groom themselves, this can be fatal. Some other plants that are dangerous for your cat are Carnations, Chinese Jade, Daffodils, Tulips, Holly, Hosta, Philodendron, and Night Shade. (Go here for a more complete list.) 

If you love houseplants, why not grow a pot of catnip or African Violets? 

cat sleeping in a catnip plant.
Photo via Getty Images

2. Medications

Over the counter (OTC) medications topped the list of pet ingested toxicants last year, making up 19.7% of calls to the hotline. Human prescription medications came in at number two at 17.2% of cases. 

Antidepressants, NSAIDs, Prescription ADD/ADHD medications, and over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy medications are serious threats to cats because we have difficulty metabolizing these drugs. If any of these are ingested we can experience severe neurological and cardiac consequences, seizures, tremors, liver failure, and possible death. One acetaminophen tablet can be fatal for a cat because it causes red blood cell damage. 

This can all be prevented by being extra cautious when you’re taking medication. Do a pill count to be sure none have dropped, and if you think you may have dropped a pill, search for it right away. Always keep medications out of your curious feline's reach and in a secured place. (Note: Many cats, like Lexy, can open a cabinet. Keep this in mind when you're storing your medications.)

3.  Household Cleaners

In 2019, Household Items comprised 7.7% of APCC cases. (That's a decrease from 8.6% in 2017.) Many cat owners don’t realize that some common household cleaners such as kitchen and bath, carpet, and toilet bowl cleaners can be harmful to cats. While contact with small amounts of these cleaners is not necessarily deadly, they can irritate your cat's digestive and respiratory systems. Toilet and drain cleaners can cause chemical burns. Oven cleaners, rust-removal agents, and lime-removal products are other corrosive agents that could be dangerous.

cat with cleaning supplies
Photo via Tofu Kitty Club

Some precautions you can take include: 
  • Closely follow the instructions on the labels
  • Thoroughly wipe down surfaces after using cleaners
  • Keeping cleaners locked in a cabinet that your cat can’t get into
  • Purchasing non-toxic cleaners

Our mom started using more natural household cleaners a while ago. It’s not only better for us, but it’s also better for her (and the environment), too!

4.  Insecticides 

The APCC reported a decrease in insecticide exposures (5.1%) last year. That's good news for pets!  Following label directions and keeping your cat away from the product when you use it will help keep them safe. 

Any product containing organophosphates and large amounts of iron can lead to seizures, vomiting, bloody stool, liver, and heart issues. As an alternative, choose all natural, chemical free products. 

Wipe up any excess product immediately, and if you’re using insecticides in your yard keep your cat indoors so they will not come in contact with them. And as always, store all chemical products safely.

5.  People Food

Food was the third top reported toxin in 2019 at 12.1%. Even if your cat gives you the big, sad eyes when you're eating because they want a taste, it's probably better for them to just say no. Cats are not able to safely ingest all food that their people eat, so pet parents need be cautious. 

A few everyday foods that can be dangerous to your cat are: 

  • Alcohol - causes vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, and tremors. A tablespoon, or even less, can put your cat into a coma and leads to death. A tipsy kitty is not cute or funny. 
  • Caffeine (coffee, soda, tea, energy drinks) -  causes restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, and muscle tremors.

cat watching coffee being poured
Photo via CatsPro

  • Dairy Products - cause diarrhea, vomiting, and an upset stomach because cats have difficulty digesting the lactose in dairy products. 
  • Chocolate - Chocolate contains theobromine which is toxic to cats if it is consumed in large enough quantities. (Chocolate also contains caffeine.) Theobromine absorbs much more slowly in cats than it does in humans so even a small amount of chocolate can be toxic to a small cat. Chocolate toxicity can cause heart arrhythmias, muscle tremors, or seizures. 
  • Onions and Garlic - can cause damage to your cat’s red blood cells and lead to anemia. Baby food made from meat is often seasoned with onion or garlic, so read the labels carefully if you feed these to your cat.

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If you think your cat has ingested a potentially dangerous substance, contact your veterinarian immediately. You can also use the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435 or the 24 hour Pet Poison Hotline at 855-764-7661.

The thought of your cat ingesting a dangerous substance is scary, but a bit of knowledge and a few safety measures can prevent it. 

We hope you found this information helpful. This might be our last Top Five post of 2020. We're starting to wind down the year on the blog, and we're hoping to post some more fun posts in December. If you missed any of our Top Five posts over the year, you can catch up on them here

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What do you do at home to keep your cat away from potential poisons? Tell us in the comments. 

Lola and Lexy

*These numbers also include statistics for dogs

Would you like to comment?

  1. Good info girls, there's danger everywhere and you just can't be too careful!

  2. Since Sweetie likes to bite, is my skin poisonous to her?
    LOL, just kidding, but since she doesn't have any teeth, it's a gumming process.
    Great post, thanks!

  3. Excellent post. The only one that surprises me are medicines because as you know, it is next to impossible to give a cat a pill. :) XO

  4. Such important information! I have a black thumb so I always buy dried flowers...they're already dead! MOL

  5. These are good things to know! Our mom and dad are big time careful about what they have in the house, and keeping us away from things we should not be around. XO - Gracie and Ava

  6. These are really good to know! BTW, my human doesn't have ANY plants inside ever because I will chew on them and they will look ratty and eventually die. Funny enough, I rarely chew on plants when I'm outside.

  7. Thank you girls. This is great information and you two found a great way to tell it.

  8. Great post that every cat owner should read. We keep those bad plants out of our house. Dad is careful with meds and he never cleans so... (Kidding but he only uses a bit of soap and water) We NEVER have insecticides in the house besides those for fleabz and Dad NEVER allows us to eat things with those bad things in them. He doesnt either so pretty easy. Thanks you two!

  9. de gurl doez knot use chemicalz oh any kind in N noe pesta sidez out....

    we wood LIKE ta haz flowerz inn side; even de SAFE kinda

    but sum cat likez ta chew chew chew chew chew :) ♥♥

  10. Have to treat animals just like human toddlers - keep potential toxins safely stored and out of paw's reach. Also be very careful about which plants you bring into the house and do not bring toxic plants (like lilies) into the home.

  11. This is great info! My cats definitely don't have to worry about plants, though. I don't have a green thumb.

  12. Thank you lola.l like this very much. I want more article about this topic. I am researcher about animal in this about animal various website. I know a website that is fantastic in case of your can visited in your website.


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