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Common cat poisons: avoiding the dangers of poisoning in cats

As a cat lover, you want to protect your cat from the hidden dangers that lurk around your home… and the more you know about the plants and substances that are poisonous to cats and kittens, the better prepared you are to do just that.

We look at the things that can poison your cat, and top tips for keeping your cat safe from harm.

Antifreeze poisoning in cats

Antifreeze is particularly toxic to cats. Containing ethylene glycol, antifreeze poisoning in cats results in severe symptoms and often death.

Always store antifreeze in a strong, clearly labelled, sealed container, well out of the reach of your cat. Clean up antifreeze spills immediately – however small – and keep your cat away from the area of the spillage until it’s safe, clean and dry.  

If you believe your cat has come into contact with antifreeze, take them to your local vet immediately – day or night.

Symptoms of antifreeze poisoning in cats:

  • Vomiting  
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Appearing drunk and uncoordinated  
  • Seizures

Household chemicals that are poisonous to cats

Cats are clever creatures, and often learn to open cabinets so they can get to their favourite treats. It’s not enough to store household chemicals in cupboards – solutions like bleach, disinfectant and white spirit need to be locked away, safe from probing paws.

The same goes for garden chemicals like insecticides and pesticides – both of which are highly toxic – and other products used to treat garden pests, such as slug pellets, which often contain metaldehyde.

Medications that are toxic to cats

Many medications that are meant for humans – even those intended for other pets – are poisonous to cats. Be sure to keep medicines well out of reach of your pet at all times. Paracetamol is particularly poisonous to cats, and spot-on flea treatments for dogs that contain permethrin are also a danger to our feline friends so be extra careful when applying and administering flea treatments if you own both a cat and dog.

Are lilies poisonous to cats?

Among all the garden plants that are poisonous to cats – we’ve listed some below – lilies are particularly toxic.

Cats are super susceptible to lily poisoning, and can experience severe symptoms from eating any part of the lily plant – including the stem, leaves, petals, stamen and pollen.

Avoid planting any member of the lily family in your garden if you’re a cat owner, and keep cut flowers well out of reach of your pet. In fact, with the risk of lily poisoning in cats being so high, it’s best not to allow cut lilies into your home. Even if you display them far out of reach, your cat may still chew fallen petals, leaves and stamen – with disastrous results. 

“Cats are super susceptible to lily poisoning, and can experience severe symptoms from eating any part of the lily plant.”

Which plants are poisonous to cats?

Plants that are poisonous to cats include:

  • Lilies
  • Daffodils
  • Foxgloves
  • Mistletoe
  • Poinsettia
  • Azaleas
  • Chrysanthemums

Need advice on poisoning in cats?

For expert advice on the substances that are toxic to cats, and the best ways to keep them away from your pet, contact your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.