Tips for a Poison-Safe Home


  • Be aware of the plants you have in your house and in any outdoor areas your cat uses (CFA advocates cats being kept indoors at all times). Ingesting azalea, oleander, Easter lily, or yew plant material by a cat could be fatal.

  • When cleaning your house, never allow your cat access to the area where cleaning agents are used or stored. Cleaning agents have a variety of dangerous properties–from those that could irritate the gastrointestinal tract to those that have a corrosive action and can chemically burn the sensitive mucous membranes of the mouth, esophagus and stomach.

  • When using rat or mouse baits, ant or roach traps, snail or slug baits, place the products in areas that are inaccessible to your cats. Most baits contain sweet-smelling inert ingredients, which can be very attractive-and deadly–to your cat.

  • Never give your cat any medications unless it is under the direction of a veterinarian. Many medications that are used safely in humans can be deadly when used inappropriately in a cat. An extra strength (500mg) acetaminophen (Tylenol) tablet can kill a seven-pound cat.

  • Keep all prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs out of reach of your cats. Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, and diet pills are common examples of human medications that can be lethal even in small dosages. Only half of a 200mg Naproxen tablet can cause stomach ulcers in cats.

  • Never leave chocolate out unattended. Approximately half an ounce of baking chocolate per pound of body weight, or even less, can cause clinical signs of toxicity in a cat. That means just six ounces can poison a 12-pound cat.

  • Many common household items have been shown to be lethal in certain species, including felines. Some items that are highly toxic, even in small quantities, include pennies (high concentration of zinc), mothballs (contain naphthalene of paradichlorobezine–one or two mothballs can be life-threatening), potpourri oils, fabric softener sheets, automatic dishwasher detergents (contain cationic detergents that could cause corrosive lesions) batteries (contain acids or alkali that can also cause corrosive lesions), homemade play dough (contains a high quantity of salt), winter heat source agents like hand or foot warmers (contain high levels of iron), cigarettes, coffee grounds and alcoholic drinks.

  • All automotive products, such as motor oil, gasoline and antifreeze, should be stored in areas your cat cannot access. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze (ethylene glycol) can be deadly to a seven-pound cat.

  • Before buying or using flea control products on your cat or in your household, contact your veterinarian to discuss what types of products she or he recommends. Read ALL information before using a product on your cat or in your home. Always follow label instructions. When a product is labeled “for use in dogs only,” this means that the product should NEVER be applied to cats. When using a fogger or a house spray, make sure to remove all cats from the area for the time period specified on the container.

  • When treating your lawn or garden with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides, always keep your cats away from the area until the area dries completely. Find out from the manufacturer how long the material will remain active in your yard, because cats may walk across a treated lawn, then groom themselves and ingest the toxins. Always store such products in an area that is inaccessible to your cats.

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