What Do You Do if Your Cat Ingests Poisons?

Cats and plants

Cats are naturally curious creatures. They love to investigate the new spring plants that you’ve brought home to plant around the house. They love it when all the springtime bugs come out from hiding. They also like to investigate any cabinets or closets that have been left open. As much as your cat thinks it’s fun to investigate these things, the more potentially dangerous items they could encounter. This is especially true when the plants, creatures or supplies are toxic to your cat. Here are a few suggestions that I have to curtail the possibility of this happening.

House plant safe for cats - Baby Rubber Plant

**This is a safe plant for cats**

Prior to bringing a plant or flower into your home, find out if the plant or flower is poisonous to any of the animals that reside within your home. The adverse reactions to the toxic substance in some plants and flowers can range from mild nausea to death. One of my family members’ cats died because it ate part of a leaf from a peace lily (beware, lily pollen can kill cats). Other common house plants that are poisonous include, but are not limited to, Philodendrons and Poinsettias. For a more inclusive list of poisonous plants and flowers, check the comprehensive list on PoC or the ASPCA’s web site. You can also ask your veterinarian or ask an employee at the store where the plant or flower is being sold. Some plants are known to be safe.

If you suspect that your cat has ingested or bitten a poisonous insect, seek veterinarian assistance immediately. If this happens after your veterinarian’s regular business hours, you should contact the nearest after-hours emergency clinic for animals. Try to bring a sample of whatever the animal has ingested or has been bitten by if it’s safe for you to do so. For example, one of my furry companions had picked up a spider in his mouth and quickly spit it back out. I assumed the spider had bitten him in his mouth and, thusly, he quickly released it. So, I captured the spider in a plastic bowl and took it with us to the after-hours emergency clinic to find out if it was poisonous. Fortunately, since I had the spider with me, the vet could tell me that it was non-poisonous spider.

Place all chemicals and cleaning supplies well out of reach of your cat. Though it’s normal to store them under the kitchen sink cabinet, this is the perfect height for your cat to investigate if they inadvertently gain access to the cabinet. Instead place them in a cabinet in a room that your cat doesn’t access regularly or store them outside in the garage. After you’ve placed all of the cleaning supplies where they will be stored, remember to close the cabinet or closet door. If your cat is extra curious and knows how to open cabinets with their paws, consider installing locking hinges on the cabinet doors much like you would use if you had small children in the house. Is your carpet OK?

If you live in the United States, you can call the ASPCA poison hotline for further information and emergency support. Outside the United States, check with your local and national agencies. Make sure to keep all of your emergency numbers in one place for easy access.


First Aid Kit for cats

Photo credit heading page: by coreycam

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What Do You Do if Your Cat Ingests Poisons? — 9 Comments

  1. Very, very informative article, Tim.
    There are so many household products, in particular, that require my constant attention.
    Every morning I have to sweep and mop my kitchen floor, and I use a mix of Mr Clean disinfectant and bleach in my bucket. It never fails that a cat will come sniffing around and look like they’re going to take a lap of it. I have to keep that mix right next to me as I move around and not take my eyes off of it.
    I think that the most plant danger where I live is the Hibiscus. They’re very toxic to cats.
    What’s hardest for me is when a cat will eat my food. I made apple crisp yesterday, scooped a little for myself, and set it at the computer. I went to get something and the crisp was gone when I came back. So, then, I had to go through all of the ingredients I used – apples, flour, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and determine if there was anything harmful, not to mention that I didn’t know WHO ate it. I wasn’t positive about the cinnamon, so I checked that out. It was only a pinch, so no harm done. If there had been a real problem, I guess I would have had to start breath sniffing to figure out who ate it.

    • Thanks! Yes, there is a lot to keep track of when it comes to things that can harm our cats. They get so curious about everything and can climb to all lengths. You can’t just place things on a counter and get away with it. Of course, apple crisp sounds yummy so, I can’t blame your baby 🙂

  2. Very interesting article and appreciate you providing such helpful information Tim. Many pet owners aren’t intentionally naive about plants and products that can be poisonous, or fatal to them, especially commonly used items such as laundry detergent or bathroom cleaners, but just not well informed.

  3. If people bring in houseplants, I always suggest that they do research to make sure that they are not toxic to pets. Unfortunately, many cats ingest poisonous plants as their pet parents unknowingly have them available.

    • Thank you Dr. for commenting. I think that you are the first veterinarian who has give an indication as to how commonplace it is for a cat to ingest a poisonous plant inside the home or I presume in the garden. It seems to be a bit of a problem at the least. Personally I do not have houseplants!

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