Keep your cat safe in their home – A guide to poisons found in the house

We want to do everything we can for our cats but sometimes we might be harming them without realising it. There are poisons in our houses that could make our kitties sick and even kill them in the worst cases.

Ensure your kitchen is cat-proofed to ensure they do not come into contact with poisons credit: Romana Klee on Flickr

Ensure your kitchen is cat-proofed to ensure they do not come into contact with poisons Photo credit: Romana Klee on Flickr

Human foods

Seeing as Easter has just passed, take chocolate, for example: it can actually be lethal to cats. Many people realise how dangerous our favourite treat is for dogs, but for cats it seems to be less known.

The caffeine and theobromine found in chocolate cause the damage in cats. Milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate and baking chocolate can be especially dangerous.

And other foods, which seem harmless can be very harmful. For example, if a cat were to eat garlic or onions it can destroy red blood cells and cause a form of anaemia.

The best way to avoid this is keep cats away from any food you are preparing, and ensure nothing is left out for your cats to nibble on, even if it is just for a short while. Keep all food covered or in the fridge.

Plants and flowers

Some of you might know that lilies are toxic to cats, but remember this isn’t just if they eat the flower directly, a cat might brush past the flower get pollen on their coat and eat the pollen when they groom themselves later. This poisoning can cause renal failure, which is a serious condition.

But lilies are not the only flowers that can trigger illness in our cats – aloe vera, avocado and eucalyptus are all toxic. You can find a full list of harmful plants here.

Ensure you keep all household plants up high and out of reach of cats, and tidy up any fallen leaves. Outside of the house, ensure there are no poisonous plants within the areas of access to cats and keep any plants away from the cat’s drinking water.

Cleaning products

Meanwhile, there are plenty of household cleaning products that are not suitable for cats and could cause them to be ill. Phenol is a chemical commonly found in cleaning products which is dangerous to the health of cats. For this reason, all cleaning products should be kept in a cupboard away from cats. Substances such as concentrated washing liquids can burn the paws and skin if cats walk through them, while even beauty products such as nail polish and suntan lotion can cause harm.

But it is possible to buy cat-friendly cleaning products from pet stores and some of the big cleaning brands such as Mr Muscle now sell a pet friendly range.

Other toxins

Other poisons include human medicine (such as paracetamol), antifreeze and dog flea treatment.

Symptoms your cat has been poisoned

  • Confused/uncoordinated movements
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting/diarrhoea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fitting/seizures
  • Swollen paws or face
  • Depression

If you think your cat has been poisoned

  • Stay calm – remove your cats from the source of the poison
  • If the poison is on the cat’s fur prevent your cat from grooming himself and try and wash the poison off with shampoo
  • Call your vet immediately

If you want to know more, here are some useful sources on the subject:
A list of plants that are harmful to cats
More detail on toxic substances for cats

Find out more about Cats Protection Brighton & District.

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