Poisoning

Read about the potential risks and how to keep your cat safe.

Poisons in the garden

Popular plants and common garden items can be highly toxic to cats. Learn about common hazards and what to do if your cat ingests a poisonous substance.

Protect from poisoning

Cats can be poisoned by a number of different things commonly found in gardens. They might not eat the poisonous substance directly - they may lick it off their coat, or absorb the poison through their skin.

If you suspect your cat has been poisoned, contact your vet immediately. Don't wait for signs of illness. Waiting as little as an hour could affect their chance of survival.

Keep reading to learn about substances and plants poisonous to cats - and what to do if your cat is poisoned.

Poisonous substances

Gardens, sheds and garages all contain a few substances that may be hazardous to cats, including

  • cleaning products
  • decorating chemicals (e.g. white spirit)
  • pest control agents:
  • slug bait - especially if it contains metaldehyde or methiocarb
  • rodent bait - especially anticoagulent types. Be aware that cats can be harmed by eating poisoned rodents
  • weed killers
  • insect killers

See below for examples of plants that are poisonous to cats.

Poisonous plants

Some plants are extremely toxic to cats, such as lilies. Cats can be poisoned by simply licking pollen from their fur. Avoid the following plants - both in your garden and as cut flowers:

  • lilies - Lilium and Hemerocallis species
  • Lily of the Valley - Convallaria majalis
  • Foxglove - Digitalis

This list is not comprehensive. For a full list of plants that are dangerous to cats, visit the International Cat Care website

Cats are more likely to chew on plants if they are bored or looking for grass to nibble, so plant some Cocksfoot grass in your garden or in pots indoors. This is particularly important if your cat doesn't have outside access.

See also - Dangerous plants

Signs that your cat may have been poisoned

There are many different poisons, and many different reactions to poisoning. Signs that might show that your cat has been poisoned include:

  • salivation
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • twitching and fitting
  • breathing difficulties
  • shock
  • collapse
  • coma

If you suspect your cat has been poisoned, contact your vet immediately. Don't wait for signs of illness as by then your cat may be too sick to survive.

First aid for poisoned cats

Signs of poisoning tend to appear suddenly. If you suspect that your cat has swallowed or touched something poisonous, you must act quickly.

If you can see the poison, take your cat away from it immediately. If possible, take a sample of the poison to help the vet choose a course of treatment. Even a sample of vomit may help, particularly if it is an unusual colour or contains plant matter.

Call your vet for advice. Your vet may ask you to bring your cat in immediately. Forcing or encouraging your cat to vomit may not be helpful.

See also: Cat first aid

Related topics

Dangerous plants - Topic

Cat first aid - Topic

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