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Protect Your Cat – A Definitive Guide to Poisons in the Home & Garden

Protect Your Cat - A Definitive Guide to Poisons in the Home & Garden

Due to their curious disposition cats can sometimes ingest hazardous substances that are poisonous and potentially life-threatening. Whilst they are unlikely to simply ingest dangerous substances, their fastidious nature means that they will lick anything off of their coat when grooming themselves.

What Household Products Can Poison Cats?

  • Products used for cleaning including bleach, concentrated washing liquids/powders, disinfectants, polish and sprays.
  • Personal hygiene products including creams, deodorants and perfume.
  • Beauty products such as nail polish and remover, hair dye and suntan lotion.
  • Medicinal products for humans including antidepressants, aspirin, laxatives and paracetamol, which is actually very dangerous for cats.
  • Products used for decorating the house such as paint, paint remover, varnish, wood preservatives and white spirit.
  • Vehicle supplies including antifreeze, brake fluid, de-icers, petrol and screen washes.
  • There are many other things around the house that can be poisonous for your pet so it is important to be as vigilant as possible and aware of what you are leaving out.
  • Pesticides such as insect killers (insecticides), slug pellets (molluscicides) and rat/mouse killers (rodenticides); when it comes to pesticides, rodenticides are the most common cause of poisoning in cats.


There are quite a few plants (both indoor and outdoor) that can be toxic or harmful to cats if ingested. One of the most well-known plants that poses a danger to cats is the common lily; not only are the leaves of a lily highly toxic but also the flowers and pollen; if even just a tiny amount is ingested then it can cause renal failure that needs urgent veterinary treatment to save the cat’s life.

Some houseplants can also be poisonous for cats, which can be a particular problem for an indoor cat. Most cats that go outside will nibble on grass or foliage but not on plants or flowers. However, if an indoor cat does not have anything like this to nibble on, then they may start to try and nibble on your indoor plants. To be safe research what houseplants are safe for cats using a comprehensive list.

Treatment Products for Dog Fleas

Many spot-on preparations for dog flea treatments contain the chemical permethrin which is toxic to cats. If you are de-fleaing your dog and you also have a cat then please be hyper-aware that you either a) find a flea treatment that does not contain a spot-on preparation that contains permethrin or b) make sure that your cat is kept well away and apart from your dog whilst your dog is being treated.

What Are the Signs That My Cat Might Have Been Poisoned?

There is no one particular sign or symptom that will signify to you that your cat has been poisoned. Any symptoms will depend on what your pet has ingested but here are a few of the more common signs:

  • Having the appearance of being drunk or uncoordinated.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Seizures or fitting.
  • Increased drinking and increased urination.
  • Extremely quick and shallow breathing.
  • Excessive coughing or sneezing.
  • Falling into a coma.
  • Lethargy.
  • Inflammation or swelling of any part of the body.


What to Do If You Think Your Cat Has Been Poisoned

If you think that your cat has been poisoned then there are a few vital steps that you must take. First of all, if you can identify what has poisoned your cat then move them away from the source immediately and keep them away from any other animals in the house. If traces of the poisonous material are still on your cat’s paws or coat then wash it thoroughly with diluted shampoo and warm water. Also, try your hardest to stop your cat from further grooming themselves.

If possible try to ascertain how, where and when your cat became poisoned before contacting your vet as soon as possible. Speed is of the essence when it comes to getting your cat help; if you know what has poisoned your pet then take any packaging, or the plant/ substance responsible for your cat falling ill. Your vet may ask you to try and make your cat vomit but please do not do this unless instructed to. It can be a great idea to encourage your cat to drink water as this can help to try and flush out any toxins in your cat’s system.

Should your cat only get a mild hazardous substance on just their coat, then you may, with your vet’s direction, be able to treat them at home. To try and remove the contaminated area, clip off the hair and then wash your cat with warm soapy water. Make sure to remove as much of the substance off as possible so that the washing does not increase the absorption of chemicals.

Be sure to keep your cat in a calm, warm room for about 24 hours so that you can keep an eye on them and make sure that they do not have any traces of the hazardous material in their system.

What Can You Do to Reduce the Risk of Your Cat Becoming Poisoned?

  • If you spill anything that could be potentially hazardous to your cat then clean it up immediately, even if your cat is out of the house or nowhere to be seen.
  • Keep any products that can potentially harm your cat well out of reach. Of course, we all know cats are extremely inquisitive creatures so you may have to find somewhere that really is out of the way. Simply putting such products high up on a shelf will not suffice, in fact, if you do this then you run the risk of your cat knocking it off, smashing or breaking open and leaking, thus posing even more of a danger to your cat. Securing hazardous products in a cupboard with a lock may seem extreme but it will eradicate any risk.
  • If you use anti-freeze then dispose of it in a safe manner, you can contact your local authority for more in-depth advice on this.

As pet owners we know you’ll do all you can to keep your pets safe, but having a pet insurance policy can help cover the cost of accidents if they happen. Why not visit our cat insurance page to find out more?


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Hello, fellow animal lovers! I’m Elena, and I take care of social media for Animal Friends Insurance. I’m here to share the latest on animal welfare, our charity work and pet care. I foster and adopt rabbits and have a rescue dog called Luna.

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