Food, Plants, and Household Items That Can Be Harmful to Cats

The various food items that are toxic or potentially toxic to dogs seem to get a lot of air time (we’re looking at you, chocolate and avocados), but we don’t seem to hear as much about what can cause harm in cats. And the worrisome thing is that the list is quite a bit longer as - in addition to certain foods - drugs, plants, and other items can be very dangerous to cats.

There’s no need to worry, however, as long as you know what these things are and take the necessary precautions. Of course, you should also have a good local veterinarian that you trust. We’ve rounded up some of the medicines, plants, and food items that can be toxic to cats and shared them below. 

Food That is Toxic to Cats

The foods that are dangerous and deadly (in some instances) to cats have quite a bit of crossover from the toxic foods to dogs list. These food items are as follows:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Chives
  • Chocolate
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Onions
  • Raisins
  • Xylitol (sometimes found in sugarless gums, candies, toothpaste)
  • Yeast dough

Although you’re surely not feeding your cat any of these foods on purpose, it’s best to be careful when you’re eating them. As all cat owners know, those furry felines can be sneaky! Even when you don't have these items out to cook or eat, keep them safely locked away when you’re not eating or drinking them. 

Human Medicines That Are Harmful to Cats

There are occasions that human medicine is appropriate for cats and/or dogs but it’s imperative that you consult your vet before giving your cat a human medicine to treat an ailment. Not only are some human meds potentially deadly to cats but you also won’t know the correct dosages without consulting a veterinarian first. Some human meds to be particularly careful of due to their toxic nature to cats are:

  • Cold meds
  • Vitamins and herbal supplements
  • Antidepressants
  • Methylphenidate (a common ADHD medicine)
  • Cancer medicines
  • Diet pills
  • Pain relievers (acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen)

 

Plants That Can Be Toxic to Cats

You’ve surely heard of the poinsettia and mistletoe toxicity in cats due to the attention these get every year during the holidays. Marijuana is another one that has been getting recent media exposure due to the number of pets who have gotten into their owner’s meds due to it now being legal in many states. What you might not realize, however, is there are quite a few other houseplants that can be quite hazardous to your cat’s health. They are as follows:

  • Azaleas
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Hyacinths
  • Aloe plants
  • Rhododendrons
  • Sago palms
  • Lilies (important reminder for Easter time!)
  • Tulips
  • Daffodil

 

Household Items That Can Be Dangerous to Cats

Cats are curious creatures and, though this curiosity is what has driven many us down the proverbial rabbit hole of cute online cat videos, it can also get them into trouble. Some things that can cause cats harm that you likely have in your home are:

  • Toys (as with babies, small parts can be ingested by cats!)
  • Bones
  • Dental floss
  • Decorations (holiday decorations need to be cat-proofed!)
  • Glowsticks
  • Jewelry

Cat-proofing is a lot like baby-proofing in that you have to see the world through their eyes. And much like babies and little kids, bright and shiny things attract kids (hence the glowsticks and jewelry). Even things like yarn and string that are often used in play with your cat can be deadly if left around to be ingested. 

Chemicals, Cleaners, and Insecticides That Are Potentially Toxic to Cats

You might be surprised to hear this, but cats find that some of these items taste good, which is how the poisoning can happen. Some things you need to lock up if you have them around the house are:

  • Detergents
  • De-icing salts that are often used during the winter
  • Flea and tick medication
  • Fertilizers
  • Antifreeze
  • Bleach
  • Herbicides
  • Insect and rodent bait
  • Heavy metals such as those found in lead (paint, linoleum, batteries)

 

What to Do If Your Cat Has Been Poisoned

This post might seem like fear-mongering but it’s meant to be a reminder to take the time to make your living space as cat-friendly as possible. That also means keeping an eye out for signs that your cat might have ingested something he or she shouldn’t have, such as the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Breathing problems
  • Coughing
  • Depression
  • Dilated pupils
  • Drinking and urinating more
  • Upset stomach/diarrhea
  • Confusion
  • Overproduction of saliva
  • Seizures
  • Shivering
  • Skin irritation
  • Weakness

 

If you notice any of these symptoms of cat illness, make sure to call your vet or cat emergency services and Animal Poison Control (888-426-4435) immediately. Your vet will most likely want you to collect urine, feces, and/or vomit samples and, although this is obviously unpleasant, the samples will give your veterinarian an idea of what’s been ingested.

Take the extra step to let poison control and your local human society know what happened. Your tendency may be to feel shame over what occurred, but this kind of information can help prevent the same thing from happening to other cat owners.

Contact us right away if you have any questions about what is or isn’t toxic to cats, and especially if you think your cat might have gotten into something he or she shouldn’t have.

The Drake Center for Veterinary Care is an AAHA-accredited animal hospital located in Encinitas, CA. The Drake Center loves being a source of information for all pet owners across the country however if you have any questions regarding pet care and do not live in Encinitas, CA or surrounding cities, we encourage you to contact your local veterinarian.

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