Common Household Poisons

Cats are naturally curious, but their curiosity can put them in danger, such as when they become tempted to taste plants or other household items that may be poisonous to them. Here are some recommendations to keep your kitties safe and prevent your greenery from getting chewed!

To Prevent Plant Eating

  • Remove plants from areas the cat has access to.
  • Provide your cat with a kitty herb garden to chew on—there are a number available in pet stores. Try oat grass, catnip, or alfalfa. Wheat grass is also safe for cats.
  • Praise your kitty or give her treats when she chews on her kitty grass.
  • Teach your cat not to chew on household plants by using an aversive spray. We recommend Bitter Apple, as it is safe for plants and animals (although it does not taste good to animals). Spray the product on all of the plant leaves. This way, if the cat tries to chew on the plant, it will have an unpleasant taste that it will associate with plant-eating. Hot chili sauce can be brushed on plant leaves for a similar effect.

Other Household Hazards

  • Secure all cupboards, medicine chests, and closets to keep them off limits to kitties. Use child-proof latches when possible.
  • Use natural, non-toxic cleaners when possible. Since cats are fastidious groomers, anything that makes contact with their skin may be ingested while they clean themselves.
  • Cationic and anionic detergents (such as ammonia-based cleaners) and phenol disinfectants (such as PineSol) are especially dangerous to cats.
  • Use safety or snap traps for pests instead of insecticides and rodenticides. Remember that your cat may ingest a poisoned mouse or bug and can then be poisoned himself.
  • Never give your pet any medications that have not been prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Keep your cat indoors to reduce exposure to herbicides, anti-freeze, gasoline and other poisonous substances that they may ingest, either intentionally or by grooming themselves.
  • Remember that some herbs and essential oils are poisonous to animals if ingested or applied topically. Always consult with your vet.
  • Do not feed table scraps to your cat. Many human foods, such as chocolate and onions can be fatal to cats. Other foods can cause stomach distress.

Plants and poisons produce a variety of symptoms, but the following are cause for concern:  Listlessness, muscle weakness, vomiting (especially if the vomit contains leaves or vegetable matter), abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, tremors, diarrhea, or convulsion.

Steps to Follow if You Suspect Your Pet Has Been Poisoned

  1. Quickly determine the amount and type of plant or poison the animal has eaten.
  2. Call your veterinarian immediately. If he or she is not available, contact the closest emergency veterinary clinic.
  3. Carefully follow your veterinarian’s instructions for immediate care.
  4. Immediately take your pet, samples of any vomit or stool passed, and a large sample of the suspected plant to your veterinarian.

This list has been gathered from a variety of sources, but is far from complete. If your pet shows symptoms of poisoning, treat it as an emergency and get veterinary attention immediately.


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