False claim that Amazon sprays its packaging with toxic pesticides harmful to cats

NEWS AND COMMENT: Today, there is an image including words on Facebook, as a post, which is a warning to cat owners about Amazon cardboard boxes. It’s a claim that Amazon sprays all boxes with toxic pesticides to kill warehouse rodents (see comment at base of page). These chemicals, they claim, are dangerous to domestic cats because cats like to play in boxes. The claimant states that their cat experienced chemical burns to their tongue. They list other symptoms such as fever and lethargy.

Untrue claim that Amazon boxes are sprayed with a pesticide which can harm domestic cats when they sit in them or chew them
Untrue claim that Amazon boxes are sprayed with a pesticide which can harm domestic cats when they sit in them or chew them. Image: Facebook.
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

People who commented on the image disagreed with the claim. For instance:

“My cats have had several Amazon boxes and bite them and never have had this issue” – Rońań Stanley Gray

The fullfact.org website has provided the full, unmitigated appraisal of this claim. It’s false. It is untrue. They say that Amazon has spoken to Snopes, another fact-checking site. In that conversation Amazon confirmed that they do not have a policy of spraying boxes with rodenticide or insecticide. They state that they use the same boxes that “every other manufacturer uses.”

They confirmed that that position is current as at the date of this post. The Snopes website investigated the source of the claim and discovered it was Ms Alicia Plant. She is the person who first shared the pictures of her cat (allegedly) with the chemical burns on their tongue. It is alleged that she claimed that her cat received chemical burns after he/she licked Amazon boxes.

Ms Plant told Snopes that she had deleted the photo from social media and she was dealing with the matter. We don’t know when that conversation took place and we don’t know when she dealt with the matter. It is surprising that the image is still on social media. I presume, by the way, that the image on this page is the same image that Ms Plant posted on Facebook at least as long ago as December 2020.

Fullfact.org said that similar stories appeared around December 2020 on social media.

Postscript: There is a caveat to the story which is that Amazon boxes can (rarely I suspect) be contaminated by chemicals in some places as they may be affected incidentally by facilities spraying disinfectants, for example. But there’s no policy by Amazon to spray insecticides on packaging. When you think about it, it’s an absurd claim because why should Amazon do it? There’s no logic to it.

Comment: the falsity of the claim is perhaps highlighted by the fact that the person said that pesticides were used to kill rodents. Pesticides are not used to kill rodents. Rodenticides are used to kill rodents. Pesticides kill insects for the purpose of protecting plants such as crops. A small point perhaps but it helps to indicate that the claim was false.

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