While there are well-known substances such as chocolate that are toxic to dogs, feline toxins are sometimes less-known. Cats are curious and independent, so it is important to know what is toxic in your household in order to keep your cat safe and healthy. Pet Age and The Pet Poison Helpline created this list of items, presented in order of frequency, that caused the most emergency calls to the Helpline in 2013.
1) Lillies: Plants in the Lillum species, such as Easter, Tiger, Asiatic lilies, cause kidney failure in cats. All cat owners must be aware of these highly toxic plants!
2) Household cleaners: Most general-purpose cleaners (e.g., Windex, Formula 409) are fairly safe, but concentrated products like toilet bowl or drain cleaners can cause chemical burns. Other symptoms can include profuse drooling, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and even organ damage. After cleaning your home, make sure all excess liquid or residue is wiped up or eliminated as soon as possible.
3) Flea and tick-spot-on products for dogs: Those that are pyrethroid or pyrethrins based (e.g. Zodiac, K9 Advantix, Sergeant’s, etc.) cause tremors and seizures that can be deadly to cats. Even more “natural” or “holistic” flea medication can be very dangerous to cats.
4) Antidepressants: Cymbalta and Effexor topped the medically prescribed antidepressant list in 2013. Cats seem strangely drawn to these medications. Beware, ingestion can cause severe neurologic and cardiac effects
5) Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Cats are even more sensitive than dogs to drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen. Even veterinary-specific NSAIDs like Rimadyl and Meloxicam should be used with caution.
6) Prescription ADD/ADHD medications: These amphetamines, such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexerdrine and Vyvanse can cause tremors, seizures, cardiac problems and death.
7) Over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy medications: Those that contain acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) are particularyly toxic, as they damage red blood cells and cause liver failure.
8) Plants containing insoluble calcium oxalate crystals: Common houseplants like the pace lily, philodendrom and pothos can cause oral/upper GI irritation, foaming at the mouth, and inflammation when ingested, but severe symptoms are uncommon.
9) Household insecticides: Thankfully, most household sprays and powders are fairly safe, but it’s best to keep curious kitties away until the products have dried or settled.
10) Glow sticks and glow jewelry: Summer is a popular time for glow sticks, but don’t become lazy by leaving them around the house. These irresistible “toys” contain a chemical called dibutyl phthalate. When it contacts the mouth, pain and excessive foaming occurs, but the signs quickly resolve when the cat eats food or drinks water.
All the detrimental effects can easily be avoided. Keeping this list handy in your household will help all members refrain from leaving these toxins available for your cat to consume!