Cats are naturally curious creatures that tend to end up where they’re not supposed to be. For this reason, we feel it’s important to educate our cat owners about substances poisonous to our beloved furry friends. 

Due to their size, it only takes a small amount of a substance to poison a cat. While dogs tend to ingest poisonous substances through eating, cats most commonly ingest these substances in the process of grooming themselves. As anyone who has ever owned a cat knows, they’re meticulous about cleanliness, and will lick any substance– poisonous or not– from their fur. 

While poisoning in cats is typically rare, it can happen. Below, we’ve listed common household items that are poisonous to cats, signs of poisoning in cats, and steps to take if you think your cat was poisoned

Household Items Poisonous to Cats

The below items are known to be poisonous to cats. If you have any of the following items in your home, part of being a responsible pet owner is to make sure they’re stored in an area that your cat cannot enter, or in a sealed container. 

  • Weed killer
  • Pest control 
  • Painkillers
  • Bleach 
  • Onions 
  • Garlic 
  • Alcohol 
  • Chocolate
  • Grapes 
  • Certain household plants, including aloe, ivy, and lilies 

Signs of Cat Poisoning

The most common signs of poisoning in a cat are tremors or twitching throughout the cat’s body. However, other typical signs include coughing, diarrhea or vomiting, rapid breathing, and excessive salivation. Additionally, excessive drinking and urinating can indicate that your cat is trying to cleanse his or her liver of a toxic substance– so pay attention to your cat’s litter box habits! 

If there’s a cat in pain, signs to pay attention to revolve around a change in the cat’s behavior. Depending on the substance and amount ingested, symptoms typically show up right away, but can take up to three to four days to present. 

How to Prevent Cat Poisoning 

Usually, you can prevent accidental poisoning in your cat by storing hazardous items in areas that your cat cannot access. However, in the case of some items such as food items, painkillers, or pest control, this is not possible. Here’s how to store these items in your home: 

Food items 

In the case of food items poisonous to cats, such as grapes, chocolate, onions, and garlic, take extra precaution when these items are left out in your kitchen. Keep an eye on your cat, and return these items to spaces that your cat cannot access, such as the refrigerator or pantry, after use. 

Pest control 

While a cat won’t usually ingest chemicals, they may try to go after pests that have already been affected by said chemicals. This is especially true with small rodents like mice. Be cautious when putting out traps for mice, or switch to pest control systems that don’t use chemicals. 

Additionally, remove your cat from your home if it’s being sprayed with a chemical toxic to cats. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t want to breathe in the chemicals in your space, your cat doesn’t want to either. 

Other household items 

For other household items that are commonly stored inside, such as painkillers or bleach, make sure that they’re stored in a sealed container. 

Additionally, when shopping for houseplants, do a quick google search on the plant species before purchasing to ensure that you’re not unintentionally bringing a plant hazardous to your cat in your home. 

What To Do if You Suspect Your Cat is Poisoned 

Unlike the many resources available to humans, there’s no cat poison control hotline. If you think your cat has ingested a poisonous substance, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. If your vet requests an in-person visit, bring along the item you think your cat might have ingested. This way, your vet has as much information as possible to get started on treating your cat. If your cat is exhibiting additional symptoms of anxiety in addition to symptoms of poisoning, check out our guide to easing pet anxiety before going to the vet. 

For more information on signs and symptoms of cat poisoning, contact us today

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