It might surprise people, particularly cat owners, that the top two cat poisons according to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (2008) are insecticides manufactured specifically for cats and dogs. The most common poisonings that occur among cats are as follows:
Permethrin insecticides which had been designed to be used on dogs. This is the top way that cats are poisoned in America. It makes one think. These insecticides designed to kill fleas and other parasites are very toxic and dog flea and tick products must never be used on cats but, apparently, many cat owners are either unaware of this or carelessly ignore it.
I think, too, that the manufacturers have a role to play here. Could they do more to prevent the poisoning of cats by dog flea products? Could they relabel the packaging and make it clearer? I think they can. If you look at the packaging of dog and cat parasite treatments they can look awfully similar even though a dog is featured on the dog packaging and a cat on the cat product. Sometimes products are made for both cats and dogs and therefore sometimes people might ignore the picture of a dog. In my view the most common reason for using dog insecticides on cats is to save money. What I’m trying to get around to saying is that the packaging should be much more direct, straightforward and with a clear warning at the base.
The second most common way to accidentally poison your cat is the use of other topical insecticides. What this refers to is people using cat designed products to kill fleas and other parasites but using them incorrectly. The word “topical” means to place the product on the skin of the cat. Perhaps people are using spray insecticides which I think should never be used or even manufactured because they are almost inevitably ingested by the cat. The spot-on flea treatments are placed, as you know, between the shoulder blades which cannot be accessed by a cat but clearly mistakes are being made and it is, to be honest, quite shocking that they are being made to this extent.
The third in line for the most common way a cat is poison in the USA is the ingesting of a human antidepressant that goes by the brand name Effexor. I believe that the chemical in the product is Venlafaxine. Apparently cats are attracted to the capsules. We know that there are a lot of antidepressants prescribed in the West by which I mean in the USA, Europe and the UK annually. There is an increase in the prescription of antidepressants in the UK year-on-year. Many women, especially elderly women, are on antidepressants in my opinion. And many elderly women like to look after cat as a companion. You can see where the problem arises.
The fourth most common way domestic cats are poisoned in America is through glow jewellery and sticks. The liquid inside is mildly toxic apparently.
Fifth is lilies. Virtually all varieties of lilies can lead to kidney failure. Then we have at number six, liquid pot pourri. Cat apparently sometimes lick it off their paws after stepping in it. Then we have non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which includes ibuprofen an aspirin. Next is Tylenol; even one tablet can be fatal. Anticoagulant rodenticide is our number nine in the top 10 list of cat poisons. Cats may eat these when they eat poisoned rodents. And at number 10 we have amphetamines. Even very small amounts are serious poisons and once again they are quite common in many households in the West.
All of these poisons are commonly found in households in America. All of them are manufactured for use by people. They are quite common and clearly cat owners should be acutely aware of their existence and precautions need to be taken as to how they are handled.
P.S. As mentioned this list was formulated in 2008. Things change but I feel confident that the general message is correct.