As humans, we’re able to handle a lot more than our feline friends can. Even though you may sometimes think your cat is a human just like you, the reality is that they need to be cared for in a different way. Things like food, plants, and medications that don’t affect humans can be very toxic to cats. It’s important as a pet owner to educate yourself about potential hazards to cats, be aware if your cat develops any symptoms, know what to do if your cat accidentally ingests poison, and understand how to keep your cat healthy.
Did you know that some foods we eat are actually poisonous to our pets?! Avoid feeding your cat onions, garlic, raw eggs, raw meat, bones, chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, raw dough, grapes, dog food, and dairy products (yes, even milk! Cats can have a hard time digesting lactose).
If your cat is in pain or not feeling well, don’t give them Tylenol, Advil, or any medication that’s intended for humans because they’re very toxic to cats. Zinc (which is typically found in household cleaners, soaps, sunscreens, and more) can also be very poisonous to cats if they ingest or inhale it in large quantities.
Products made for cats and dogs aren’t interchangeable. Each animal requires special nutrients and vitamins and reacts differently to chemicals and ingredients. Don’t feed your cat dog food and be careful when buying products such as flea control. Always consult your veterinarian for a flea product they recommend for your cat. Sadly, there are some products being sold in stores that have been known to cause cats to seizure and even die.
There are also many plants and flowers that are toxic to cats, so keep them out of your home. If your cat is an outdoor cat, know what these plants look like, so you can restrict your pet to safe areas outdoors.
How to tell if your cat’s been poisoned
Common signs your cat has eaten something poisonous can include but aren’t limited to:
Little to no appetite
High body temperature
If you sense there’s something wrong with your cat, call your veterinarian, describe your pet’s symptoms, and find out if further action is needed.
What to do in an emergency
If you suspect or know your cat has been poisoned, take them to your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital immediately. If possible, try and identify what they ate or got into and how much. This will help the vet treat your cat in the best way possible.
How to prevent your cat from being poisoned
Here are some easy ways to keep your cat safe:
If you have any plants or flowers in the house, make sure they’re safe for cats to be around.
When you’re cooking or preparing food, try and keep your cat out of the kitchen.
Use animal-friendly house cleaners.
Don’t leave any alcoholic or caffeinated beverages unattended.
Keep medications locked away.
Since your cat doesn’t know any better, it’s up to you to keep them healthy and away from any dangerous foods or toxins. Accidents can happen, and if your cat does get sick, it’s important you recognize something is wrong and act as fast as possible.
A story of caution
One of our SurreyCats volunteers knows all too well the dangers of household toxins—Lubna Ekramoddoullah recently had to take her cat to an emergency animal hospital.
“Wilbur was drooling excessively—he hadn’t eaten all day, which definitely wasn’t normal for him. Then, I realized he wasn’t opening his mouth,” says Lubna. “The vet said he had lesions in his mouth and ulcers on his tongue and asked me if he had gotten into any cleaning products. But I kept all the cleaners in cupboards, so I was confused.”
Thankfully, Lubna’s cat was treated with pain medication and sent home, where he was feeling better and very hungry. She later remembered she had cleaned the floor the day before and realized Wilbur must have walked over it while it was still wet and subsequently licked his paw to clean it off.
“I’m always careful with toxins, so I can’t believe that I didn’t even think about making sure Wilbur stayed off the floor until it was dry,” says Lubna. “Even the best cat guardians can make mistakes, so I hope everyone takes that extra step to ensure their cats are safe from hidden dangers.”
For more tips, the BC SPCA has great resources about poisonous threats to cats and dogs.