Cats are uniquely vulnerable to poisons due to their curious nature, outdoor access, tendency to groom contaminants from their coat and feet and their unique physiology which means they struggle to rid themselves of some poisons.
The most common causes of poisoning include, lilies, permethrin (a chemical in dog flea products which should never be applied to cats), ethylene glycol (anti-freeze found in car radiators, screen washes and de-icers), benzalkonium chloride (found in disinfectants and patio cleaners), paracetamol (highly toxic to cats) and white spirit or turpentine.
For lilies (Lilium species and Hemerocallis) the pollen, leaves and petals are ALL toxic – even drinking from the vase can make cats very unwell. Other toxins cause less serious but still unpleasant signs. For example benzalkonium chloride found in many disinfectants can cause severe ulceration of the mouth and tongue. Very painful and nasty for your cat and could stop them from eating.
Signs of poisoning can often be vague so owners should be vigilant when it comes to their cat’s health. Cats are also very good at hiding the fact that they are unwell. You should contact your vet if you notice any signs of unusual behaviour in your cat or sudden illness. Some of the most common causes of poisoning, lilies and anti-freeze, can cause severe kidney damage in very small quantities, so vigilance is needed.
Last year International Cat Care launched their ‘Keeping cats safe’ campaign to promote awareness of substances that are poisonous and harmful to cats. You can visit their site for more information at www.icatcare.org.
We also have a helpful guidance sheet ‘Toxic foods, products and plants’ on our website applicable to all pets. Visit our site at www.hillsidevets.co.uk.
Disclaimer: Hillside Vets’ website is intended to be used only as a guide and information resource, not as an alternative to a veterinary consultation and advice. Nothing contained in this website should be construed as medical advice or diagnosis. For specific healthcare advice please discuss the particular symptoms and circumstances of your pet with your vet.