From dangerous plants to household cleaners, many everyday items can lead to poisoning. Learn more about how to keep your cat safe from toxic substances, how to spot signs of poisoning in cats and what to do next.
What are the signs of poisoning in cats?
What are the signs of poisoning in cats? There are many different poisons, and many different reactions to poisoning.
Cat poisoning symptoms include:
• twitching and fitting
• breathing difficulties
• shock or collapse
• inflammation or swelling of the skin
• depression or coma
• changes in drinking, urinating and appetite
What items are poisonous to cats?
You might be surprised to find that many household items, or at least those kept in your garden, shed or garage, are poisonous to cats. Cleaning products, decorating chemicals (for example, white spirit) and pest control agents can all be harmful if ingested.
• Slug bait – especially if it contains metaldehyde or methiocarb
• Rodent bait – especially anticoagulant types. Be aware that cats can also be harmed by eating poisoned rodents
• Weed killers
• Insect killers
REMEMBER: Avoid using these substances in an area that your cat uses. Place all cleaning products on a high shelf where they cannot be reached. Keep all lids and tops screwed tightly on toxic substances to reduce accidents.
Antifreeze poisoning in cats
Antifreeze is used often in the winter in car radiators or in screen wash and de-icers to prevent freezing.
Containing ethylene glycol, this substance is particularly harmful to cats and can prove fatal if ingested. It only takes a spillage on the driveway or a cat walking through a puddle and then grooming its fur for the poison to be ingested. This quickly affects a cat’s kidneys, with damage sometimes so severe that the cat may not survive.
To prevent your cat from the poison in antifreeze, try to use screen wash or de-icer sprays that do not contain ethylene glycol. If you have drained your car radiator and some of the product remains, wipe it up quickly. Keep products containing ethylene glycol out of reach, so your cat can’t get to it.
If you suspect that your cat has been poisoned by antifreeze, take them to the vet immediately.
Flea or tick products
Whilst it is important to treat your cat regularly for parasites such as fleas and ticks, under the guidance of your vet, to help keep your feline friend safe, always follow the directions carefully. If you are concerned that you haven’t applied it correctly, get in touch with your vet. It is essential never to use flea or tick treatments intended for dogs, this is because some of these products contain Permethrin, which is very poisonous to cats, but well tolerated by dogs.
Lilies and other poisonous plants
While lilies might look pretty, they can sadly be deadly for felines, and are the most commonly reported poisoning in cats. Several types of lilies have found to be poisonous to cats, including:
• Day lily (these are the most common lillies that cause issues in cats)
• Easter lily
• Tiger lily
• Rubrum lily
• Japanese show lily
Take a look at our visual guide below for more information.
What food is poisonous to cats?
If you have a cat that is happy to eat everything they’re given, it might surprise you to learn that some foods are poisonous to cats. With cats content to investigate shopping bags and leftovers in the kitchen, food is often readily available in the home – and this can unfortunately make your cat unwell. Some of the most common foods to cause poisoning in cats include:
• Chocolate – theobromine, a chemical found in chocolate, is toxic to most animals and can cause illness in cats. Signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, drinking a lot and disorientation
• Alcohol – while it is obvious not to give your cat alcohol, accidents and spillages occur. Ethanol, the chemical found in alcohol, is also in surgical spirit and hand sanitiser so make sure you keep these items out of reach
• Grapes, sultanas, raisins and currants – dried fruit can cause renal failure in cats, it is thought that cats suffering from ongoing kidney disease are more at risk. Their consumption can also lead to gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Keep the fruit bowl away from your cat to stay safe
• Onions and garlic and other members of the allium family of vegetables. Symptoms of allium poisoning include vomiting, abdominal discomfort and lethargy. Avoid feeding them to your feline, and always consult your vet if you suspect poisoning
Can cats recover from poisoning?
Recovery from poisoning in cats depends on timing. The sooner your cat has medical attention, the sooner treatment can begin and the less time the poison has to make its way through your cat’s system. For many cats, those who receive early treatment will return to their normal selves within a short time. Speak to your vet for more information on your cat’s rate of recovery.