Cats are usually quite picky about what they eat. However, there are a number of household substances known for causing poisoning in our feline companions.
Many cleaning products are highly toxic to cats. Although they are unlikely to drink these substances, they can easily ingest them when potentially cleaning these substances from their coat or paws.
Of particular worry are bleach and phenolic cleaning compounds and decorating materials like paint and creosote. Antifreeze, or any product containing it, is a big threat. It seems to be fairly palatable and cats are particularly susceptible to its effects, with just small amounts causing severe renal failure.
Storage promotes safety
With any fluids or chemicals stored around the home, make sure they are kept safe and secure, in a container that will not spill or leak. Consider that cats can jump up on to high surfaces and may knock over storage containers. Any spillages should be cleared up immediately, inside the home or outside.
Store your own medications safely, and remember that packaging can be chewed. Never give your cat any human medication unless specifically advised to do so by your vet. Paracetamol in particular is highly toxic to cats. Store any nicotine-containing products safely away too.
Cats are also particularly sensitive to a drug called permethrin, contained in certain over the counter flea preparations for dogs. Poisoning is unfortunately common, often occurring when these products are mistakenly used on cats, or when cats are in close contact with other treated animals.
Avoid using permethrin based products in any other pets in contact with your cat and when treating your cat for fleas always double check the label first. Take advice from your vet, vet nurse or trained advisor, known as an SQP, to choose the best, safe and effective flea control for your pets.
Garden products and plants
Read the instructions for your garden products too. Slug pellets are particularly hazardous to cats and should not be used in any location that your cat is able to access.
There are also many plants which are potentially toxic. Cats could potentially consume house plants if they are unable to access grass to eat or through grooming any plant material from their coat.
Lilies in particular are a danger to cats and can even cause poisoning in a cat that has brushed passed and picked up the pollen on their coat. Outside you can only try to identify and remove any highly toxic species from your garden and check the label on any new plants you buy.
Find out how to keep your cat’s vet bills covered by reading about cat illness and insurance.