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Keeping Cats Safe

Cats are inquisitive creatures and unfortunately, some everyday items in the home and garden they may encounter can be toxic to them...

Even some common foodstuffs can be posionous to cats. 

What to do if you think your cat has eaten something poisonous: 

  • Stay calm.
  • Remove the pet from the source of the poison.
  • Contact your vet immediately explaining how where and when the poisoning occurred.
  • If possible and appropriate take the packaging, plant or substance to the vet.
  • Don’t expose yourself to any harm.
  • Never ‘watch and wait’. If you suspect your pet has been poisoned contact your vet immediately.
  • Never attempt to make cats vomit. Do not use salt water as it’s extremely dangerous. If skin/fur is contaminated, wash with mild shampoo and water, rinse well and dry. Keep dogs away from other animals to avoid cross-contamination. 
  • Food Dangers
  • Household Dangers
  • Garden Dangers

Food Dangers


It's well know that chocoloate is poisonous for cats, but it is also toxic for cats.

As a general rule dark high quality chocolate contains the most, but it is also contained in milk chocolate.  Fatalities have been seen in dogs eating as little as 60g milk chocolate per kilo bodyweight.  White chocolate is unlikely to cause theobromine poisoning, but the high levels of fat and sugar can still be harmful to dogs and should be avoided.

Theobromine mainly affects the guts, heart, central nervous system, and kidneys, and signs of theobromine poisoning will occur between four and 24 hours after your dog has eaten chocolate.  You may see vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, hyperactivity and seizures

If you think your pet has eaten chocolate contact a vet immediately.

If possible give an idea of how much has been eaten and take along the wrapper.

Onions and Garlic

Small quantities are unlikley to cause problems but a whole clove of garlic or large pieces of raw onion can be dangerous and will likely cause an upset stomach. Onions contain a substance that destroys red blood cells in cats and when regulary eaten in large quantities they can cause anaemia.


Just one tablespoon of alcohol can lead to severe liver and brain damage for cats.


Caffeine can cause cats to become restless, it can cause palpitations and breathing difficulties. Keep all caffeinated drinks out of reach of cats.


Although milk isn't toxic to cats it can have adverse effects. Also some cats are lactose intolerant and for them dairy products can cause vomitting and diarrhoea.

Raw Fish, Raw Eggs and Raw Meat

Eating raw fish, eggs or meat can lead to vomitting and diarrhoea in cats. It can also lead to pancreatitis and there is an association with these foods in their uncooked state and e-coli and salmonella.

Household Dangers


Call your vet immediately if you think your cat has drunk antifreeze.

Ethylene glycol is the active ingredient in antifreeze that is extremely toxic to cats. It is also found in some de-icer and screen wash products. Signs of poisoning appear in cats can appear in 30 minutes or up to 8 hours. As little as a 5ml teaspoonful can be enough to kill a cat, and unfortunately, as it tastes sweet to cats they will readily drink it. Therefore, it is very important to contact a vet immediately if you suspect that your cat has ethylene glycol poisoning.

Be careful where and how you store antifreeze, and any product containing ethylene glycol. Clear up any spills straight away.

Signs of ethylene glycol poisoning include:

  • Becoming very quiet and still
  • Wobbling and vomiting and falling over as if drunk
  • Sleepy disposition
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Twitching eyes and muscles
  • Seizures


Permethrin is an insecticide. It is safe for dogs and is commonly used in spot on flea treatments for dogs.  However, it is toxic for cats and cats can become posisoned by when they are mistakenly treated with a flea spot on treatment that is formulated for dogs. They can also have milder effects if they brush up against a dog that has been recently treated with a flea treatment.

Permethrin poisoning usually take effect rapidly. Any product remaining on the coat should be washed out with cold water. Never use warm water as this will increase absorption.

Controlling convulsions is often difficult, and cats may need to be hospitalised for several days.

It's important to act quickly and contact your vet immediately.


Some human medicines, including paracetomol, are extremely toxic for cats.  However, it is safest to keep all medicines both for humans or pets, out of reach of cats, and only ever give them mediciation that has been prescribed by the vet.

Cleaning Products

Benzalkonium chloride is a type of detergent that is found in many household products including disinfectants, antiseptics and some patio cleaners. If cats lick surfaces that have been cleaned with products containg benzalkonium chloride hey can develop drooling, fever and tongue and mouth ulceration. Signs typically develop hours after exposure.


Cats can become poisoned  by weed killers by walking on areas that have been recently treated and then ingesting the product by licking their paws while grooming themselves.

Signs of posioning will depend on the chemical ingredients ingested, but can inlcude:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tremours
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lack of eating

If you suspect that you cat has ingested weed killer or moss killer contact your vet urgently, and if possible, take a long the packaging of the product.

Garden Dangers


Lillies are extremely toxic for cats. Even just licking the leaves or drinking the water from a vase of lillies can prove fatal for cats.

Slug and Snail Pellets

Slug pellet poisoning, although more common in dogs, is occaionally in seen in cats. The toxic compound is metaldehyde, and not all slug pellets contain metaldehyde.

Only small amounts of pellets containing metaldehyde are needed to cause significant poisoning. Signs will be seen within an hour of ingestion and include incoordination, muscle spasms, twitching, tremors and seizures.

Pets need urgent veterinary treatment if they are to survive poisoning with slug pellets.

Other Flowers and Plants

As well as lillies that are highly toxic for cats and just lickling the leaves or the water from the vase can prove fatal, there are other flowers and plants that should also be avoided in cat households. These include:

  • Amaryllis
  • Daffodils
  • English Ivy
  • Tulip and Narcissus bulbs
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Hyacinths
  • Iris and Gladioli
  • Cyclamen
  • Widow's Thrill
  • Azaleas and Rhododendrons
  • Oleander
  • Castor bean
  • Cyclamen
  • Kalanchoe
  • Yew
  • Autumn Crocus
  • Peace Lily
  • Pothos
  • Schefflera Arboricola