Danger List & Toxins

Top 10 Toxins For Cats
The veterinarians and toxicology experts at Pet Poison Helpline have released their top 10 list of household items that generated the most poison consultations for cats in 2013. (Source: Jan 30, 2014
1) Lilies: Plants in the Lilium species, such as Easter, tiger, and Asiatic lilies, cause kidney failure in cats. All cat owners need to be made aware of these highly toxic plants, say Pet Poison Helpline experts.
2) Household cleaners: Most general-purpose cleaners (Windex, 409) are fairly safe, but concentrated products such as toilet bowl or drain cleaners can cause chemical burns.
3) Flea and tick spot-on products for dogs: Those that are pyrethroid-based (Zodiac, K9 Advantix, Sergeant’s) cause tremors and seizures and can be deadly to cats.
4) Antidepressants: Cymbalta and Effexor topped Pet Poison Helpline’s antidepressant list in 2013. Cats seem strangely drawn to these medications, which can cause severe feline neurologic and cardiac effects on ingestion.
5) NSAIDs: Cats are even more sensitive than dogs to drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen. Even veterinary-specific NSAIDs such as carprofen and meloxicam should be used with caution.
6) Prescription ADD/ADHD medications: These drugs have the same toxic effects in cats as in dogs.
7) Over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy medications: Those that contain acetaminophen are particularly toxic to cats, as they damage red blood cells and cause liver failure.
8) Plants containing insoluble calcium oxalate crystals: Common houseplants such as peace lilies, philodendron and pothos can cause oral and upper GI irritation, foaming at the mouth and inflammation when ingested, but severe symptoms are uncommon.
9) Household insecticides: Most of these household sprays and powders are fairly safe, but it’s best to keep cats away from plants after application until the products have dried or settled.
10) Glow sticks and glow jewelry: These irresistible “toys” contain a chemical called dibutyl phthalate. When it contacts the mouth, pain and excessive foaming occurs, but the signs quickly resolve when the cat eats food or drinks water.

Common Dangers

  • All doors, especially sliding doors, will break the neck or back of a cat or kitten making a fast dash for the outdoors. This is true even for cats that do not go outside. Tails can be damaged too. Before shutting (not slamming) the door, check to see where the cat is. They can appear out of nowhere in an instant.
  • Automatic garage doors are also potentially fatal to a cat or kitten.
  • Clothes dryers—Kittens and cats can climb into warm dryers in a split second. Never leave the door open and always take a last thorough look, especially with front-loading machines, before you close the door and start the drying cycle. The same is true for washing machines.
  • Dishwashers are very interesting to cats and kittens. It only takes a second for the cat or kitten to be up on the door where a paw, leg, or neck can get hurt by the closing door.
  • Exercise equipment can be a risk to cats and kittens. Make sure that cords, wheels, and all the moving pieces of your exercise equipment are “cat free” before you start your workout.
  • FEET – Look out! Kittens and often times cats can be underfoot when you least expect them, possibly causing you to fall down and possibly causing the cat to suffer a broken back or bone.
  • Reclining chairs—Kittens and cats can climb under the chair to find a secluded spot for a nap. If you don’t realize kitty is under the chair, kicking it into the reclined position can seriously injure or kill the cat or kitten.
  • Refrigerators—Kittens have been shut in them overnight. A quickly closed refrigerator door will break a cat’s back or neck.
  • Shopping bag handles, like the bags you get from Nordstrom, Macy’s or The Gap, and the grocery stores—can get wrapped around the neck of a cat or kitten and can be fatal. It may start as fun, but they can panic and become stressed, caught in the handle and then choke on the handles.
  • Toilets can drown small kittens! Please keep the lids down! Tell your children to do the same.
  • Under the sink, where you keep those cleaning supplies, can be a fun place for the cat or kitten to explore. Please be mindful that some cleaning supplies are lethal to cats and kittens. Keep the doors closed – and try to use natural cleaners as much as possible.

Everything is a toy to a curious cat or kitten. Avoid vet bills! Everything that a toddler can put into his mouth, nose, or ear is a risk to a kitten or cat. Rubber bands, string, ribbons, hair ties, dental floss, and yarn are all very fun for a cat but are also potentially lethal. Don’t underestimate the determination of a curious cat. Earrings and earring backs, decorative jewels on clothing or purses, caps to pens and pencils, zipper pulls, and the small parts of children’s toys are all very interesting to cats and kittens, and all can cause serious problems if eaten. Keep all small things off the floor of your house and put away in drawers and cupboards.



If you think you cat has been poisoned, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or see their website at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/.

The most common toxic poisons to cats are antifreeze, rat poison, cleaning fluids, fertilizers, medicines and aspirin/ Ibuprofens. If a cat eats rats or mice that have been poisoned, they in turn, will be poisoned too. Quick veterinary care may save your cat.

Be ready with the following information:  breed, age, sex, the cat’s symptoms, information regarding the exposure, including the agent (if known), the amount involved and the time elapsed since the time of exposure. If you can, have the product container/packaging available for reference.

Please note: If your animal is having seizures, losing consciousness, is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing, bring your cat immediately to your local veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic.

Toxic Plants

We all love plants! All that oxygen they add to our environment. But sadly, many plants that are beautiful are also highly poisonous to our pets!

If you love one of these plants and you have pets, you might want to rethink its location! Some flowers and plants that are commonly found in a home that can be poisonous to your pets are Dieffenbachia’s, Easter Lilies, Philodendrons, English Ivy, and Poinsettias.

The ASPCA has a list with pictures of over 300 plants poisonous to cats at http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/poison-control/Plants.aspx?plant_toxicity=toxic-to-cats

Also, the Cat Fancier’s Association has a list of plants that are poisonous to cats at http://www.cfainc.org/client/plants.aspx

Toxic Foods

Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives, and scallions (all from the genus Allium family) are considered poisonous to dogs and cats. Ingesting these foods can damage red blood cells, and cats in particular are more susceptible to red blood cell damage than dogs. Even ingesting small amounts can be very dangerous. Also, onion powder is often added to baby food, so if you’re feeding cats baby food when they’re ill or have a sensitive stomach, be careful of this ingredient. Check the ingredient label. Signs the cat is feeling ill can take several days to show, but beware of vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and dehydration as symptoms.

Other Household Toxins

Don’t forget other household items can be toxic as well, including:

  • Antifreeze
  • Common household cleaning fluids
  • Plant and landscaping fertilizers
  • Paints and lacquers
  • Rodent, ant, slug killing poisons
  • Medications
  • Aspirin, Ibuprofens

And remember to keep all containers tightly sealed and away from animals and children!