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January 21, 2014

I caught a vet discussing this on one of the breakfast TV shows last week and Googled it to find out more about it. The Pet Poison Helpline provides a 24-hour helpline to pet owners and vets in the US and Canada. Its website contains an impressive database of toxins, symptoms and treatments, and an array of information sheets for pet owners such as “How to poison-proof your home”.

Every January they publish a list of the ten most frequently reported toxins for cats (and dogs) the previous year. I have reproduced the list in full here with links to the relevant information on the Pet Poison Helpline website. I hope you find it useful – please share it on your Facebook pages to reach as many people as possible.

  • Lilies:Plants in the Lilium species, such as Easter, Tiger, and Asiatic lilies, cause kidney failure in cats. All cat owners must be aware of these highly toxic plants!
  • 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.
  • Flea and tick spot-on products for dogs:Those that are pyrethroid based (e.g., Zodiac, K9 Advantix, Sergeant’s, etc.) cause tremors and seizures and can be deadly to cats.
  • Antidepressants:Cymbalta and Effexor topped our antidepressant list in 2013. Cats seem strangely drawn to these medications. Beware – ingestion can cause severe neurologic and cardiac effects.
  • 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.
  • Prescription ADD/ADHD medications:These amphetamines such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, and Vyvanse can cause tremors, seizures, cardiac problems and death.
  • Over the counter cough, cold and allergy medications:Those that contain acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) are particularly toxic, as they damage red blood cells and cause liver failure.
  • Plants containing insoluble calcium oxalate crystals:Common houseplants like the peace lily, philodendron, and pothos can cause oral/upper GI irritation, foaming at the mouth, and inflammation when ingested, but severe symptoms are uncommon.
  • 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.
  • Glow sticks and glow jewelry: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.


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