Toxins & Poisons

With a keen sense of curiosity and dedication to cleanliness, your cat can get into trouble if he makes contact with a toxic substance. In 2014, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) answered more than 167,000 phone calls about pets exposed to poisonous substances.

Common Feline Toxins

  • Human or Veterinary Drugs – One tablet of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) can be fatal to your cat.
    • Cats also seem to like the taste of certain antidepressants, which may contain an alluring smell or flavor in the coating.
    • Keep all medications and prescriptions in a secure location.
    • With any accidental medication ingestion, seeking immediate veterinary care is imperative.
  • Permethrin Poisoning – The topical application of flea control products for dogs contains permethrin which is poisonous to cats.
    • A major portion of feline toxicities reported to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center are from permethrins. These incidents occur by either deliberate application of the product to a cat by a caregiver unaware of the dangers, or by the indirect exposure if a cat comes into physical contact with a dog who has just had a flea control product applied.
    • For more information, visit the AAFP Permethrin Poisoning and Cats page.
  • Poisonous Plants – Did you know that many kinds of flowers are toxic to cats?
    • Lilies, for example, can be most deadly to cats, as ingestion can cause severe, acute kidney failure. Small ingestions of two or three petals – even the pollen and the water in the vase – can result in potentially irreversible kidney failure.
    • Seeking immediate veterinary care is critical.
    • Keep in mind that there are other plants that are toxic to your cat. Check out this comprehensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants as provided by the ASPCA.
  • Insecticides, Chemicals, and Pesticides – Especially dangerous during the warmer months, exposure to insecticides can occur when your cat walks through an area recently treated with lawn and garden products, sprays, powders, or granules.
    • Another occurrence of accidental exposure occurs when you apply a canine topical flea and tick medication onto your cat or if your cat snuggles up close to a dog that has been recently treated.
    • These medications are highly toxic to cats, and can cause severe drooling, tremors, and life-threatening seizures.
    • Always ask your veterinarian about appropriate use of topical flea medication for your cat.
  • Household Cleaners – These include common household cleaners such as toilet bowl cleaners, laundry detergents, drain cleaners, and carpet cleaners.
    • Be sure to keep these products out of your cat’s reach and wipe away any excess.
    • Consult a veterinarian immediately if you believe that your cat has been exposed.
  • Other Poisons – While these are less obvious, other poisons such as glow sticks, jewelry, liquid potpourri, and antifreeze can be toxic to your cat.
    • Glow sticks and jewelry contain a bitter tasting liquid that can cause your cat to drool profusely.
    • Cats are often exposed to potpourri oils by rubbing against leaky bottles or pots containing the oil, or from spilling the oil containing pots over themselves. Only a couple of licks or a small amount on the skin can be harmful, especially since cats are prolific self-groomers.
    • Antifreeze poisoning usually occurs when pets lick antifreeze drops or spills off the ground. For a cat, as little as a teaspoon can prove fatal.
    • In any of these cases, a trip to the veterinarian may be necessary.