When it comes to your cat, you go above and beyond to ensure they live a happy, healthy, comfortable, and safe life. An essential part of keeping them safe is knowing and avoiding common household toxins that can cause life-threatening consequences, if ingested. Our team at Just Cats Clinic is committed to the health and wellbeing of all cats, and we’re here to share some of the most common cat toxins, and what you should do if your cat accidentally ingests one. 

Household items toxic to cats

You may not realize how many substances that spell danger to your cat can be found in your home.

  • Medications — Many prescription and over-the-counter medications can be toxic to cats, including:
    • Antidepressants
    • Cold medicines
    • Diet pills
    • Pain relievers (e.g., acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen)
    • Vitamins and supplements

Ensure your medications are stored where your cat cannot find them, and never give your cat any human medicines—in fact, any medications—without first speaking with your veterinarian. 

  • Human foods — Your cat may be interested in what you are eating, but resist the urge to share table scraps. The following human foods can be poisonous to cats:
    • Alcohol
    • Caffeine 
    • Chives
    • Chocolate, especially dark chocolate
    • Garlic
    • Grapes
    • Onions
    • Raisins
    • Xylitol, which is found in many sugarless foods, including gum, candy, and peanut butter, and some toothpaste brands
    • Yeast dough

  • House plants and flowers — Cats are curious and like to nibble on plants. But, many common houseplants can be hazardous to their health. Avoid bringing these houseplants into your home, or at the very least, keep them somewhere where your cat can’t reach them:
    •  Aloe
    • Azalea
    • Chrysanthemum
    • Hyacinth
    • Lily
    • Marijuana
    • Mistletoe
    • Rhododendron
    • Sago Palm
    • Tulip

Lilies are especially dangerous for cats, and only small amounts of all parts of the flowers, including the pollen and vase water, can be life-threatening.

  • Household chemicals — Cats like the taste of some highly toxic chemicals, like insecticides, so they must always be locked away, to keep your cat safe. These common household chemicals can be deadly for your cat:
    • Antifreeze
    • Bleach
    • Detergents
    • De-icing salts 
    • Dog flea and tick medication 
    • Fertilizers
    • Herbicides
    • Insect and rodent bait

  • Miscellaneous household items Be aware of household items that can potentially cause your cat to choke or be strangled. Some household items, if swallowed, can become an intestinal blockage and require emergency veterinary care for removal. Playful cats can become caught up in long pieces of string or ribbon and be strangled. Some common items that can lead to problems for your cat include:
    • Toys with small removable parts
    • Dental floss, yarn, ribbon, or string
    • Hair ties
    • Rubber bands
    • Twist ties
    • Holiday decorations, especially lights and tinsel

How to prevent your cat from ingesting a toxin

Keep all the above items, and any others that cause you concern, off floors, counters, and furniture where your cat can easily reach them, to avoid an emergency situation. Take extra care securing the following:

  • Medications — Keep all medications in a secure location that your cat can’t access, and never leave pills or medicine lying around. Keep your bags or purses, as well as those of family members and houseguests, up high, so your cat can’t get into any of the contents. 
  • Household products — Keep all household products in a secure cabinet or closet that your cat can’t access.
  • Toxic plants — Avoid bringing potentially toxic plants into your home, if possible, and if you do, ensure they are placed far out of your cat’s reach. Check Animal Poison Control’s list of plants toxic to pets.
  • Countertops — After eating, promptly remove food and crumbs from table surfaces as soon as possible, to keep your cat from ingesting any human food that could be toxic. 

What to do if your cat ingests a toxin

If you know or suspect your cat has ingested a toxin, use your Petriage 24/7 Telehealth app to assess the situation, and immediately contact Animal Poison Control or our team for our urgent cat care services. Keep the following information on hand for an emergency: 

  • The details — You will need to provide your pet’s age, breed, and weight, as well as any signs they are exhibiting.
  • The toxin — If possible, have the label on hand to provide the ingredients and concentrations of the substance your pet ingested.
  • The time — You will need to provide the estimated time your pet ingested the toxin.

Treatment for a cat who has ingested a toxin

Your cat’s treatment will depend on the toxin they ingested. Our veterinary team or Animal Poison Control may instruct you to seek emergency veterinary care. Just Cats Clinic offers some late evening and weekend appointment hours for cats who need to be seen promptly, but aren’t so sick they need to go to a 24-hour emergency hospital. If an urgent care practice cannot help your cat, we will refer you to an emergency care clinic that can admit your cat for treatment. Ensure you take the toxin product label, if applicable.

The best way to protect your cat is to always be aware of all the dangerous, potentially toxic, substances in your home, and storing them securely, out of your cat’s reach. However, accidents do happen, and in case of an emergency, or if you simply have more questions about toxic products and keeping your cat safe, do not hesitate to contact our team at Just Cats Clinic.