What Things Are Poisonous to Cats?

What Things Are Poisonous to Cats? (Truth About Toxins)

Cats are picky eaters for the most part. You never know what they will turn their noses up at. Unfortunately, they aren’t quite picky enough and there are several things in your home that are poisonous to your cat.

Bad cat on the kitchen table

Cats are quite adept at getting into things that they shouldn’t. At least in my house, this includes things like pots and pan cupboards. And then there was the iced coffee incident where kitty raced around the house at full speed without stopping for two hours.

Cats are quite curious beings, and sometimes, it seems like there is nothing that they won’t at least explore a way to get into. Occasionally, keeping toxic items and substances out of the way of the cat can be challenging at best. Making the extra effort will be worth it for both you and kitty’s best interests.

Nonetheless, there are certain things that you really need to be aware of the cat’s whereabouts when these things are out in the open. We are going to start with household items whose toxicity might not have occurred before.

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If you know or fear that your cat has come in contact with any of these things, it is best to call your veterinarian immediately. If your cat has thrown up or used the litter box before you can get there, make sure that you take samples of everything. The most the veterinarian knows about the situation, the better he or she will be ready to help.

It is also another good first step to call the poison control hotline. These representatives can give you details about the product that your cat got into. They may be able to give you some advice on what you can do immediately before you even make it to the veterinarian’s office.

Coming In Contact

Cat is licking

Cats come in contact with poisonous substances through more than one route. If it gets on their fur, they will lick it off and become poisoned that way. Poisonous substances on their fur can also get into the body by being absorbed through the skin.

Also associated with grooming, comes when the cat walks through something such as ice melt salt or household cleaners. Their urge to clean their paws following this type of activity is natural. This is how things on the floor can get into their systems.

Finally, the most obvious, the cat eats something poisonous. Not everything that is poisonous tastes bad enough to stop them from eating whatever it is they are eating. It is important to remember that cats should not have access to dog food or free access to all human food as some human food can prove to be deadly.

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Types Of Poison

There are a few standard types of substances that are poisonous to cats. Some of them may be surprising while others are obvious. Probably the most toxic substance is household cleaners.

Both over the counter and prescription medicines intended for humans should never be shared with kitty. The easy to digest coating on many medications is sweet and might resemble a treat to the cat. Unless you hear differently from your veterinarian, Medication for humans is for humans and medication for pets is for pets.

The most difficult thing to keep your cat away from is human food. While a lot of human food is somewhat harmless, there are a few exceptions that are pure poison to our cats. Another easily accessible thing is dog food, which is formulated for a dog’s digestive system which is quite different from a cat’s digestive system.

Being aware of the dangers to your cat can help you control their environment more so that the possibility of being poisoned is minimized. This is not only the responsible thing to do, but also the most important part of being a cat owner. Being familiar with how your cat behaves normally can also alert you to when something might be seriously wrong.

1. Household Items

Big cat on the kitchen counter

While many of these items are obvious, it is important that you are aware of those things that you keep around the house that are poisonous to your cat.

Batteries can prove dangerous in more than one way. Small round batteries, like those found in hearing aids, can be easily swallowed. With larger batteries, you run the risk of the kitty puncturing the outer casing and letting the chemicals leak out.

If your cat ingests a battery or comes in contact with battery chemicals, you will find ulcers in their mouths. Batteries are very caustic and can easily burn the inside of kitty’s mouth. Always keep your batteries in a safe place away from curious felines.

Dryer sheets are dangerous because they coat your clothes with chemicals. Even a used dryer sheet can be toxic to the cat if they chew on them. Detergent has the same effect.

Household cleaners of all types are especially poisonous. You should always keep the following household cleaners out of the reach of curious paws:

  • Bleach
  • Drain cleaner
  • Mothballs
  • Toilet cleaner, both the liquid form and the tablets
  • Tobacco products, such as cigarettes and vaping fluid

Various solutions found in the garage such as ethylene glycol which is most commonly found in antifreeze, certain types of ink, paints, and solvents. This product is both colorless and mostly tasteless, and it is probably the most lethal fluid in your home. This all just highlights how important it is to keep all of your cleaning and automotive items safely and securely locked away from where children and pets cannot get access to them.

2. Human Medications

While most human medication whether prescription or over-the-counter should not be used on your cat, there are some that are more dangerous to kitties than others. The most serious of these include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Cancer Medications
  • Cold Medicine
  • Diet Pills
  • Vitamins and herbal supplements
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin
  • Prescription opioid narcotic pain relievers

Medications should be kept safely away from your cat. Make sure that the lid is always on tightly and the bottles are out of reach safely in a medicine cabinet or drawer. If you do see signs that your cat has accessed anything on this list, you will need to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

3. Human Foods

Not all human food is good for kitty even in the smallest quantities. Items on the following list can prove fatal to your cat. These unhealthy human foods include:

  • Unbaked yeast bread dough
  • Chocolate, with dark chocolate being more dangerous than milk or white chocolate
  • Grapes or raisins
  • Onions, garlic, leeks, or chives
  • Canned fish intended for humans
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, soda, or tea
  • Foods with xylitol as an ingredient including breath mints and chewing gum

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4. Plants

Cat sitting near plants

Plants that are poisonous to cats include both indoor and outdoor varieties. Toxic plants include:

  • Aloe
  • Azalea
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Lilies
  • Marijuana
  • Mistletoe
  • Poinsettia
  • Tulips
  • Rhododendrons

5. Miscellaneous Items

While these should seem like common sense, it is important that they be included in this documentation of items that are poisonous to your cat. Cats should not be given access to:

  • Chicken bones
  • Dental floss or any variety of string
  • Holiday décor such as tinsel’s
  • Firecrackers or other forms of gunpowder
  • Toys with small parts

Symptoms Of Poisoning

If your cat displays any of the symptoms of being poisoned, then you will need to reach out to your veterinarian immediately. It is also a good idea to keep the contact information for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Poison Control Center. Their can be reached at:

ASPCA Pet Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435

If you suspect that your cat has gotten into something that could poison him or her, then you need to be aware of what potential symptoms might be. If your cat shows any of these symptoms, immediate emergency actions should be taken. These symptoms include:

Cats are known to hide out if they are feeling sick. The sicker they are, the less they will want to be around people. If you suspect that your cat might have gotten into poisonous substances, you will need to bring him or her out of hiding and keep them in a controlled environment where you will be able to observe their behavior.

If you see signs that your cat might have gotten into something toxic, it is best that you get him or her to the veterinarian immediately whether they are showing symptoms or not. Some toxic substances might be affecting your pet in ways that do not show symptoms at their onset. For example, kidney failure can be the result of ingestion of some human foods, and there are few outer symptoms until the problem becomes close to fatal.

There is a difference between the digestive systems of humans, cats, and dogs. Because cats are carnivores and therefore naturally need more meat, they lack some of the digestive enzymes that humans and even dogs have. Food prepared for both humans and dogs are not always easily digestible by cats.

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Cats are pretty hardy in general, but the items mentioned above are truly toxic to your pet. An important part of being a pet owner is to ensure that your cat does not come in contact with anything that might be unhealthy for him. Taking care of their needs gives them a better chance for a long and healthy life.

"In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this."
-- Terry Pratchett

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