Benzalkonium chloride is in many household products and it is poisonous to domestic cats

“Check your household products for ingredients and make a note if one or more contains benzalkonium chloride as it could save your cat from poisoning.”

Poisoned cat from Benzalkonium Chloride
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Poisoned cat from benzalkonium chloride. Picture of cat from FB. Above is the chemical formula of benzalkonium chloride

Benzalkonium chloride is another ingredient in household products of many kinds which is poisonous to domestic cats. It once again confirms that the innocous and well kept home can be a hazardous place for domestic cats. You wouldn’t think it was. Cleaning products are one of the main hazards because they contain strong chemicals which although effective for the purposes to which they are intended are also often toxic to our pets and us.

This chemical’s toxicity is well recognised with regard to domestic cats when cats are in direct contact with surfaces cleaned by products containing it (Handbook of Poisoning in Dogs and Cats by Campbell and Chapman-2008).

As an anti-microbial agent benzalkonium chloride is an active ingredient in products such as:

  • Pharmaceutical products such as eye, ear, nasal drops and sprays
  • Hand sanitizers, wet wipes and shampoos, deodorants and cosmetics, skin antiseptics, throat lozenges and mouthwashes
  • Spermicidal creams
  • Burn and ulcer treatments
  • Spray disinfectants for hard surface sanitization
  • Cleaners for floor and hard services as a disinfectant (Lysol)
  • For cleaning algae, moss and lichens from tiles, roof tiles and masonry et cetera

My guess is that cat and dog owners are almost totally unaware of the dangers of this chemical. That said, people charged with the protection of the public are aware of it and in September 2016, in America, the FDA deferred a ban on benzalkonium chloride to allow further study to be completed. That tells us that the toxicity of this ingredient is work in progress as far as the authorities are concerned.

It isn’t just pets who are in danger. Concentrated solutions are toxic to humans. It can kill people if taken internally in sufficient quantities.Twenty people were killed in Japan by a nurse injecting the chemical into, I presume, patients.

Case History

My attention has been brought to this product by story coming from New Zealand. The owner of a Siamese cat has issued a warning online after her cat was poisoned by coming into contact with a small amount of Canesten Laundry liquid which she sprayed onto a cat scratching post. Her cat scratch the post. The product came into contact with her cat’s paws and her cat licked her paws.

She woke up the next day to find her cat salivating. She realised that the product is harmful to cats and that she had made a big mistake. It can cause hypersalivation, ulcers in the mouth, hypothermia, loss of appetite and lethargy in domestic cats. I believe it is also toxic to dogs.

In high doses cats can suffer tissue damage. If treated quickly cats can recover within several days. Salivation is the first signs of poisoning by this chemical.

The obvious action to take if a cat owner is worried about it is to stop their cat grooming himself and then bathing their cat to remove traces of the chemical from their paws and coat. Obviously they should take their cat to a veterinarian.

On this website there are countless pages on products which are toxic to cats and dangers to cat health. Below is a small of example of some poisons. Please click on this link to see pages regarding toxity to cats.

Mistletoe is toxic to cats and dogs

Is mistletoe poisonous to cats and dogs?

Christmas is coming! Just kidding. Although it does come around quite quickly, doesn't it? It is possible that mistletoe will ...
GPS tracking collar for cats is an item which is recommended by the UK police force.

UK police want cat owners to use GPS cat tracking collars

Through one of their policewomen acting as a spokesperson, it appears that the UK police want cat owners to purchase ...
Insecticides are the most common cat poisons

When and how to make your cat vomit to treat poisoning

Cat poisons I think that every cat owner should know when and how to make their cats vomit. It sounds ...
Perfume toxic to cats?

Are perfumes toxic to cats?

Are perfumes toxic to cats? Image: MikeB More work is need by appropriately qualified scientists and veterinarians to answer the ...
Benefits and advantages of essential oils for humans and potential disadvantages for cats

Are shower diffusers safe for cats?

The answer to the question in the title is yes and no as the response depends on variable factors. Please ...
Barbera Minns the mad pensioner of Cornwall

If your neighbour wants to poison your cat move home!

NEWS AND OPINION: If the relationship between you and your neighbour is so bad that they consistently try and poison ...
Hartz flea treatment is allegedly killing a huge number of pets

Call center worker allegedly got 200-300 complaints daily on Hartz flea treatment killing pets

This is another highly disturbing story about killing cats and dogs. It is sad and morbidly fascinating that when you ...
Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

You may also like...

3 Responses

  1. R M says:

    Hi, I was hoping for a list at the link but I will research Ione by one. Thanks, Michael

    • Yes, I just used a tag. This is because over time I gradually discover more and more substances that are toxic to cats and write about them and tag those pages so I can bring them all up.

  2. K. T. says:

    Thanks for the info. It gives everyone just one more way to rid the natural world of every last one of your fucking invasive species man-made vermin cats. 20+ easy and affordable ways and counting, thanks to you. 🙂 LOL

    Super-soaker water-guns loaded with garden-center bought permethrin and water is the most effective. The cat loving neighbor none the wiser, since they suggest spaying them with “water” to keep their vermin cats out of others’ yards. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You just so love killing your vermin cats, don’t you. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *