Cats can easily be accidentally poisoned by many things you probably have in or around your home. Common household items, plants, foods, medications, and chemicals can all spell disaster if your cat comes into contact with them.
If your cat is poisoned, call your emergency vet right away. You can also call the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 and follow their instructions. They may charge a fee, but it’s worth it if your cat’s life is on the line.
Here are some ways cats are accidentally poisoned that you should watch out for.
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Many types of human medications and pills can poison a cat.
Antidepressants, cancer medication, cold medicine, diet pills, pain relievers, vitamins and supplements, or other medications can cause extreme sickness or death.
Keep these in a secure container and store them out of reach of your cat in a firmly closed or locked cabinet or drawer. Also, keep your cat's medication out of reach of your kitty's paws, and make sure you follow the instructions carefully when administering it.
Houseplants And Flowers
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Several kinds of houseplants and flowers are toxic to cats.
The most common include daffodils, lilies, azaleas, geraniums, and tomato plants, but there are many more that prove fatal for a cat if eaten.
If you allow your cat to go outside, take precautions, as several of these plants grow in outdoor gardens. Additionally, lawns treated with fertilizer can also cause poisoning if your kitty likes to chew on grass.
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Pesticides including rat poison, insect bait, and spray-on bug killers are usually poisonous for cats, too. Even if you don't use these products on your property, they can drift from neighboring lawns and contaminate your area.
In addition to pesticides used for plants, improper use of flea or tick medication can also result in poisoning. Medication meant for dogs can be especially toxic for cats, even through skin contact.
Always check the labels of your flea and tick medication carefully. Do not overuse them and don't mix up medications for different animals.
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Even if your cat doesn't directly ingest or come into contact with a pesticide, they can still get secondary poisoning from contact with an animal that has chemicals in its system.
A rat or insect that has eaten poison can be a big problem for a cat, especially if your kitty likes to hunt for small prey. If you suspect people use pesticides in your area, you may wish to keep your cat indoors if they're prone to hunting.
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Antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste that tends to attract animals. The reason it's so dangerous, even if it's kept in a sealed container, is that it often spills on the driveway, in the garage, or on the streets.
A small dose of even half a tablespoon can be fatal.
Keep your antifreeze locked away. Thoroughly clean spills, and check your car for leaks. If your cat likes to roam, be aware that puddles can contain antifreeze, especially in colder months, and if your cat drinks from them, they could easily suffer antifreeze poisoning.
Human Foods And Drinks
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There are many human foods and drinks that can be toxic for cats, especially food served at holiday meals.
Alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, grapes, and the leaves of tomato and potato plants can all land your cat in the veterinary emergency room.
Take precautions and keep these foods away from your cat's reach. If you're having a holiday party, it may be best to keep your cat in another room while food is out and available.
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If you're experimenting with a homemade diet or nutritional supplements for your cat, you should consult a vet before you start preparing meals. Too much of certain nutrients can end up poisoning your cat.
Vitamin A, for example, can cause lethargy, constipation, weight loss, and skin allergies among other symptoms if it is ingested in high enough quantities.
Vitamin D poisoning can cause vomiting, weakness, seizures, abdominal pain, and tremors. Talk to a vet about formulating a balanced diet before you try making food for your cat on your own.
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Kitchen and bath surface cleaners, carpet cleaners, and toilet bowl cleaners can all be highly toxic to cats.
It's important that you don't allow your cat near cleaned surfaces until they have completely dried. Cats can pick up chemicals on their paws, and if they lick them later, they can accidentally ingest poisons.
Store all cleaners in tightly sealed containers and keep them in locked or secure cabinets. Bleaches, detergents, and disinfectants all contain poisonous chemicals.
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Lead can be present in some consumer products, as well as old paint chips, linoleum, or surfaces in older homes. When lead dust is breathed in, it's highly toxic.
Mercury, which can be present in fish like tuna or in older thermometers, can also cause serious problems for cats. Other metals like zinc, which can be found in some coins, are also poisonous.
Keep these metals out of reach of your cat and avoid feeding your kitty tuna in large quantities, if at all.
Liquid Chemicals, Like Glow Sticks Or Liquid Potpourri
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Certain objects you have around your house for various reasons, like glow sticks or liquid potpourri, contain chemicals that are somewhat toxic.
Glow sticks contain dibutyl phthalate, which is rarely fatal when ingested, but can cause profuse drooling. Liquid potpourri can cause chemical burns to the mouth, difficulty breathing, vomiting, tremors, or even organ damage.
Make sure you keep products that contain liquid chemicals away from your cat's reach.
What other common ways can cats be accidentally poisoned? How should cat parents take precautions? Let us know in the comments below!