KITTY TOXIN AWARENESS

Cats are highly curious creatures. Some common household items and plants can be very toxic and deadly to a curious cat. Here are some common plants, foods, and household products that are proven to be poisonous to cats:

HOUSE PLANTS

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ALOE VERA

Name(s): Aloe, Aloe vera, Barbados Aloe, Medicine Plant, True Aloe, Octopus Plant, Medicine Plant, Torch Plant, Candelabra Plant

Toxin(s): Saponins, anthracene, anthraquinones glycosides, latex (in the gel). When ingested, these glycosides are metabolized by intestinal bacteria forming compounds that increase mucus production and water in the colon.

Symptoms: Vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, depression, anorexia, changes in urine color to red, abdominal cramping, loss of appetite, and tremors (in extreme conditions).

LILIES

Name(s): Lily

Toxin(s): Unknown

Symptoms: Kidney failure. Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies contain oxalate crystals that cause minor signs. The more dangerous, potentially fatal lilies are Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show lilies.

SNAKE PLANTS

Name(s): Snake Plant, Golden Bird's Nest, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

Toxin(s): Saponins

Symptoms: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea

SAGO PALM

Name(s): Sago Palm, Coontie Palm, Cardboard Palm, Cycads, Zamias

Toxin(s): Cycasin

Symptoms: Vomiting, melena, icterus, increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, bruising, coagulopathy, liver damage/failure, diarrhea, depression, seizures, drooling, lack of appetite, weakness, ataxia, seizures, tremors, black, tarry-looking stool, bruising, lethargy, and death. All parts of the Sago Palm are poisonous, but the seeds (nuts) are the most toxic to pets and are easier for them to eat than the prickly fronds.

FERNS

Name(s): Asparagus Fern, Asparagus, Emerald Feather, Emerald Fern, Sprengeri Fern, Plumosa Fern, Lace Fern, Racemose Asparagus, Shatavari

Toxin(s): Sapogenin

Symptoms: Berry ingestion could result in gastric upset (vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhea). Allergic dermatitis (skin inflammation) can occur if an animal is repeatedly exposed to this plant.

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IVYS

Name(s): Pothos, Devil’s Ivy, Ceylon creeper, Money plant, hunter's robe, Golden Pothos, Taro Vine, Ivy Arum

Toxin(s): Insoluble calcium oxalates, raphides

Symptoms: Oral irritation, pain and swelling of mouth, tongue, and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, skin irritation, choking and swelling of the throat

TABLE FOODS

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ALCOHOL

Name(s): Alcohol

Toxin(s): Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) 

Symptoms: Alcohol poisoning

Alcohol has the same effect on a cat's liver and brain that it has on humans, but it takes far less time. Two teaspoons of whiskey can cause a coma in a 5-pound cat, and one more teaspoon could kill it.

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AVOCADOS

Name(s): Avocado

Toxin(s): Persin (located in the skin and pit), the pit is also a choking hazard.

Symptoms: Gastrointestinal distress including upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Cats should never eat guacamole because guacamole typically contains garlic and onions.

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CHOCOLATE

Name(s): Chocolate

Toxin(s): Theobromine, methylxanthines (relative to caffeine)

Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, high body temperatures, muscle tremors, seizures, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and death.

The most toxic kinds are dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous.

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MILK & DAIRY PRODUCTS

Name(s): Dairy especially milk and ice cream

Toxin(s): Lactose. Most cats are lactose intolerant.

Symptoms: Cats’ digestive system cannot process dairy foods, which results in digestive upset with diarrhea.

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GRAPES & RAISINS

Name(s): Grapes/raisins

Toxin(s): Unknown

Symptoms: Kidney failure, vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, reduced appetite, abdominal pain, decreased urination, abdominal pain, hyperactivity.

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ONIONS

Name(s): Onions (Also listed in Toxic Plants)

Toxin(s): N-propyl disulfide

Symptoms: Vomiting, blood in urine, weakness, high heart rate, panting, anemia, lethargy, reduced appetite, pale gums, and orange to dark red urine. 

Any form of onions (powdered, raw, cooked, or dehydrated) is toxic to cats. 

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RAW MEATS & EGGS

Name(s): Raw eggs, meat, and fish

Toxin(s): In raw eggs: avidin (interferes with the absorption of biotin) and bacteria. In raw meat: bacteria. In raw fish: bacteria and an enzyme that destroys thiamine (an essential B vitamin for your cat).

Symptoms: Food poisoning, neurological problems, convulsions, coma.

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BONES

Name(s): Bone/fat scraps

Toxin(s): Bones can splinter or cut the inside of your cat's digestive system. Cooked and uncooked fat can cause intestinal upset. 

Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, choking.

HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS

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ESSENTIAL OILS

Name(s): Essential Oils such as wintergreen, oil of sweet birch, citrus oils (bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lime, tangerine, orange), basil oi, pine oil, ylang ylang oil, peppermint oil, cinnamon oil, pennyroyal oil, clove oil, eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, fennel oil, melaleuca oil, thyme oil, oregano oil

Toxin(s): Phenols and phenolic compounds. Essential oils are absorbed rapidly into cats’ skin and enter the bloodstream, and cats cannot efficiently metabolize the toxins.

Symptoms: Watery nose or eyes, redness of the lips, gums, or skin, vomiting, drooling, difficulty breathing, panting, coughing, wheezing, lethargy, tremors or wobbliness, low heart rate, low body temperature, serious liver damage, liver failure, respiratory failure, seizures, and even death.

Do not apply or feed essential oils directly to cats or leave oils in areas where they may come in direct contact. If your cat has asthma, allergies, or another respiratory conditions, avoid all use of essential oils. Keep cats out of rooms with a high concentration of essential oils. Kittens, elderly cats, or cats who have liver or respiratory problems should be kept out of any room where essential oil diffusers are used. 

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CLEANING PRODUCTS

Name(s): Household Cleaning Products such as bleach, detergent, various cleaners

Toxin(s): Various chemicals including insecticides, chlorine, Formaldehyde, and ammonia.

Symptoms: Cancer, liver failure, anemia, tremors, kidney failure, lymphoma, neurological disorders, and irritation to skin, eyes, or other membranes. 

Ammonia is found in oven cleaners and window cleaning formulations. Chlorine is a toxic respiratory irritant found in all-purpose cleaners, automatic dishwashing detergents, tile scrubs, disinfecting wipes, toilet-bowl cleaners, laundry detergents, and mildew removers. Laundry detergent residue left behind on clothes and pet blankets can be harmful to your cat. Formaldehyde emissions are highest from new pressed wood furniture, drapery, and unwashed new fabrics but will gradually subside over time. New furnishings or fabrics that contain formaldehyde should be set outdoors for a few days, washed, or set in well-ventilated rooms.

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HAIR TIES & STRINGS

Name(s): Tinsel, string, or hair ties

Toxin(s): These objects do not pose a poisoning risk but can cause severe damage to a cat’s intestinal tract if swallowed.

Symptoms: Severe injury or rupture of intestines. Treatment involves expensive abdominal surgery.

For a thorough list of plants, foods, and household items that are toxic to cats, please click here.