10 of the Worst Cat Toxins in 2013

Hear the unintentional poisons that led to the most calls to the Pet Poison Helpline.

By CatChannel Editors | Posted: January 15, 2014, 3 p.m. EST

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Cat Poisons
Over-the-counter medication was one of the biggest contributors to accidental cat poisoning in 2013.
Vets and experts from Pet Poison Helpline, a hotline for cat and dog owners to call if their pets have ingested toxic substances, say they want to make 2014 the safest year yet for cats. To prevent further illness, they’ve rounded up a list of household items that caused the most consultations for cats in 2013 and given us their Top 10.

Get a list of more cat toxins >>

Not all items are highly toxic, but the list can remind pet parents of dangerous items they might have around the house. The items are listed in order of frequency, with No. 1 causing the most emergency calls to Pet Poison Helpline.

Cats: Top 10 Toxins of 2013
1. Lilies
Plants in the Lilium species, such as Easter, Tiger and Asiatic lilies, cause kidney failure in cats. All cat owners must be aware of these highly toxic plants.

2. Household Cleaners
Most general purpose cleaners (e.g., Windex, Formula 409) are fairly safe, but concentrated products like toilet bowl or drain cleaners can cause chemical burns.

3. Flea and Tick Spot-On Products for Dogs
Those that are pyrethroid based (Zodiac, K9 Advantix, Sergeant’s, etc.) cause tremors and seizures and can be deadly to cats.

4. Antidepressants
Cymbalta and Effexor topped our antidepressant list in 2013. Cats seem strangely drawn to these medications. Beware – ingestion can cause severe neurologic and cardiac effects.

5. NSAIDs
Cats are even more sensitive than dogs to drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen. Even veterinary specific NSAIDs like Rimadyl and Meloxicam should be used with caution.

6. Prescription ADD/ADHD Medications
These amphetamines such as Adderall, Concerta, Dexedrine, and Vyvanse can cause tremors, seizures, cardiac problems and death.

7. OTC Cough, Cold and Allergy Medications
Those that contain acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) are particularly toxic, as they damage red blood cells and cause liver failure.

8. Plants Containing Insoluble Calcium Oxalate Crystals
Common houseplants like the peace lily, philodendron and pothos can cause oral/upper GI irritation, foaming at the mouth and inflammation when ingested, but severe symptoms are uncommon.

9. Household Insecticides
Thankfully, most household sprays and powders are fairly safe, but it’s best to keep curious kitties away until the products have dried or settled.

10. Glow Sticks and Glow Jewelry
These irresistible "toys” contain a chemical called dibutyl phthalate. When it contacts the mouth, pain and excessive foaming occur, but the signs quickly resolve when the cat eats food or drinks water.

Accidents happen and if a pet may have ingested something toxic, Pet Poison Helpline recommends taking action immediately. Contact a veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at (800) 213-6680. Pet Poison Helpline also has an iPhone application with a database of over 200 poisons dangerous to cats and dogs. "Pet Poison Help” is available on iTunes for $1.99.
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Reader Comments

Lucrecia    new york city, NY

3/7/2014 3:27:53 PM

From what I've read any food containing caffeine is poisonous and so is chocolate.

Joanne    Renton, WA

3/7/2014 11:26:24 AM

I have heard that some household cleansers are toxic if the cat walks across a floor while still wet. But I don't remember which ones are toxic, Pine Sol?

Cathy    Troy, NY

1/29/2014 3:42:23 PM

The deadliest thing I have seen for cats is Hartz flea and tick treatments that are used according to directions!

Carol    Menlo Park, CA

1/26/2014 10:09:30 AM

Thanks Francesca. Also good to add Sago Palm. Sago palms, also called cycad palms are very poisonous. The seeds, fruit and base are loaded with cycasin, a toxin that causes liver failure and death occurs within hours to days depending upon the amount of poison ingested. Sago palms even have warning of toxicity when sold in nurseries.

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