While we mostly relate to our Feline companions as our four-legged furry humans, we do need to remember that they react quite differently to us when it comes to common plants, foods, medicines and chemicals that can be found commonly in our homes.
Below is a list of the most common household dangers to your Kitty:
Rodent Poisons and Insecticides
These are one of the most common causes of pet poisonings. Poisons such as rat and snail bait should be used with extreme caution. They are designed to entice animals to eat them and attempts to hide them in hard to reach places are often unsuccessful. Try substituting with other more humane methods of pest control. If you must use rodenticides or insecticides, keep them safely locked up and only use them in areas of your property that are inaccessible to your dog or cat.
Many prescription and over the counter medications are toxic to animals. Paracetamol is a commonly found pain medication that is particularly poisonous to cats, even in tiny amounts. Never medicate your pet without the advice of your veterinarian and make sure that all medications are kept in sealed containers out of the reach of your pets. Some pet medicines can also be dangerous to your pet if used incorrectly. For example, some flea-prevention treatments for dogs contain compounds that are highly toxic for cats. Always use veterinary drugs according to your vet and the package’s instructions.
Some foods are toxic to your pets and should never be fed to them. These include chocolate, onions and garlic (including products containing onion or garlic powder, e.g. baby food), tomatoes , macadamia nuts, raisins, grapes and products containing caffeine amongst others (please check with you vet for more information). Feeding fat trimmings may cause your pet to develop pancreatitis and foods such as raw fish, liver and sugary foods can lead to metabolic diseases when fed in excess. Be careful not to feed your pets cooked bones as these can splinter, causing gastrointestinal obstructions which can be fatal.
Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol which tastes sweet, is attractive to animals and deadly if consumed in small amounts. Ethylene glycol poisoning is rarely seen in Australia, however pet owners should be conscious of its potential as a poison regardless. Watch for leaky radiators that may leave puddles on the ground.
Your cat may love to play with pieces of string, however be aware that if these are ingested they may cause painful and potentially deadly intestinal obstructions. Also be wary of yarn, dental floss and rubber bands.
Xylitol (sugar substitute)
This low-carbohydrate sugar substitute is used as a sweetener in products such as chewing gum, some toothpastes and baked goods.
Top-Spot Pet Medications
Certain dog-only top spot treatments containing the compound permethrin are highly toxic to cats. Cats are unable to metabolise permethrin and can have fatal reactions to the drug. Please read product labels carefully to check which animal species can safely use the product. If in doubt, please contact your local vet.
Tree or plant fruit stones (these may become an intestinal obstruction)
Many garden trees and plants drop fruit stones, berries or seeds. Sometimes cats will eat these parts of the plant. Unfortunately ingestion of fruit stones, berries and seeds can lead to serious intestinal blockages/obstructions which can be fatal. In addition, some fruit stones, berries or seeds may contain toxic compounds which can be poisonous to your pets. Remove any tree or plant stones/seeds/berries from your garden to prevent pets from ingesting them.
Yes, some essential oils such as Tea-tree oil and other common oils can be toxic to cats. If you wash your cat, do not add essential oils to the final rinse as these are ingested when the cat licks itself. Can result in excessive salivation, gastric ulceration, vomiting and disorientation. Despite the old myth, tea tree oil does not kill fleas or repel them.
Fertilizer products generally contain varying amounts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) compounds. Fertilizers may be in a liquid, granular or solid form. They may have additives such as herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, iron, copper and zinc. Because fertilizers are usually a combination of ingredients, the effects following ingestion may differ. In general, fertilizers cause mild to moderate gastrointestinal irritation which may involve signs such as vomiting, diarrhoea, hypersalivation, lethargy and abdominal pain.
Some types of fertilizer such as bone meal, blood meal and fish derivatives may be eaten which can cause significant gastrointestinal upset (vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation) and possibly pancreatitis. Certain fertilizers may also contain bacterial or fungal toxins which can have serious side effects if ingested.
Fertilizers can also be caustic, which irritates the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. In some cases ingestion may lead to gastrointestinal ulceration. Impaction (gastrointestinal blockage) with fertilizer material may also occur in some cases.
If you suspect your cat has eaten fertilizer, please consult your vet or emergency centre immediately for advice.
The Following plants have also been identified as Poisonous or hazardous to cats:
Bird of Paradise
Lily of the Valley*
Arum or Calla Lily
So just remember, if you think your cat has come in contact with anything on these lists above, the best policy is to contact your Vet or Vet Emergency Centre. You can also contact your local Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26. Remember to provide as much detail as possible about the type of poison and active ingredients as you can to help diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Credit Sources: http://www.purina.com.au/cats/care/information/toxic-plants ; Kb.rspca.org.au; Cats Protection