Top 10 Cat Poisons

Last year, there were more than 100,000 cases of pet poisoning in the U.S. Many of these were caused by substances you probably have in your home, substances that may seem perfectly harmless to you. But just because something is safe for people doesn't mean it won't hurt beloved pets. Some of the most dangerous cat poisons are foods and medications we take on a daily basis.

Depending on how a particular substance affects your cat's body and how much was ingested or inhaled, pet poisoning symptoms can include gastrointestinal and neurological problems, cardiac and respiratory distress, coma, and even death.

Top 10 Cat Poisons

Cat poison No. 1: Medications for people. Pets have a much greater sensitivity to many of the common over-the-counter and prescription medications that may be in your home.

Some of the medications that often poison cats include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. The most common cause of pet poisoning, these painkillers can cause ulcers in the stomach and intestines, and kidney damage.
  • Acetaminophen is particularly toxic to cats, resulting in red blood cell damage. Just two extra-strength tablets may prove fatal to felines.
  • Antidepressants, which may cause vomiting and, in more serious instances, serotonin syndrome - a dangerous condition that raises temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, and may cause seizures.
  • Methylphenidate. This attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drug is a stimulant for pets, raising heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.

Cat poison No. 2: Flea and tick products. Poisoning can occur by ingestion of a topical product or overzealous application. In addition, certain flea control products manufactured for dogs can be lethal if used on cats.

Cat poison No. 3: People food. It is important to take care that your cat doesn't ingest foods that might cause pet poisoning or stomach upset. Foods to keep away from your cat include:

  • Chocolate. Experts don't recommend giving chocolate, caffeine, or coffee to your cat.
  • Onions, garlic, chives. These plant foods can irritate the stomach and damage red blood cells.

Cat poison No. 4: Rat and mouse poison. Rodenticides, if ingested, can cause severe symptoms and may be fatal.

Cat poison No. 5: Pet medications. Just as we can be sickened or killed by medications intended to help us, cases of pet poisoning by veterinary drugs are not uncommon. Some of the more commonly reported problem medications include painkillers and de-wormers.

Cat poison No. 6: Household plants. Cats are notorious for noshing on houseplants, and the habit isn't just bad for your potted treasures. Many common, beautiful houseplants contain cat poisons that can cause serious harm, and even death. Some of the plants toxic to cats include:

  • Lilies. Ingesting even small amounts of Easter lilies and related plants can cause severe kidney failure in cats.
  • Azaleas and rhododendrons. These pretty flowering plants contain toxins that may result in vomiting, diarrhea, coma, and sometimes even death.
  • Tulips and daffodils. The bulbs of these plants, if ingested, may cause serious stomach problems, convulsions, and damage to the heart.
  • Sago palms. Eating just a few seeds may be enough to cause vomiting, seizures, and liver failure.

Cat poison No. 7: Chemical hazards. Not surprisingly, chemicals contained in antifreeze and paint thinner, and chemicals for pools can act as cat poisons. The symptoms they may produce include stomach upset, depression, and chemical burns.

Cat poison No. 8: Household cleaners. Just as cleaners like bleach can poison people, they are also a leading cause of pet poisoning, resulting in stomach and respiratory tract problems.

Cat poison No. 9: Heavy metals. Lead, which can be found in paint, linoleum, and batteries, can be poisonous if eaten by your cat. If ingested, lead can cause gastrointestinal and neurological problems.

Cat poison No. 10: Fertilizer. Products for your lawn and garden may be poisonous to animals that ingest them, perhaps by grooming themselves after walking or laying in a recently treated area.