Catster Tips
An orange cat looking at beer and fish.
Share this image

What Can Kill Your Cats? Be Careful — You Probably Have These 8 Things at Home

Unfortunately, what can kill your cats could be lurking around your household. Wine, tuna and yarn are just a few of the things that could kill your cats.

Angela Lutz  |  Mar 22nd 2018


I’ve always fed my cats canned tuna as a special treat, and without a second thought, I’ve given them rubber bands and bits of string to entertain them while I’m at work. I assumed I was keeping them well-fed and amused. But I have to rethink these plans, because these things are potentially hazardous to my kitties. So, what can kill your cats? Every cat parent should be aware of these eight common foods and household items that can kill your cats. If you think your cat has been poisoned, take her to the vet ASAP. You can also contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

1. Tuna can kill your cat

A cat next to a can of tuna. Photography ©willcao911 | Thinkstock.

A little bit of tuna can be good for cats, but too much tuna will give your cat mercury poisoning. Photography ©willcao911 | Thinkstock.

Giving your cat a little bit of tuna is fine — and mixing it with new foods can even help your cat transition to a healthier or raw diet. But it is possible to have too much of a good thing. A steady diet of canned tuna will not give your cat the nutrients she needs — and it can cause mercury poisoning.

2. Grapes and raisins can kill your cat

Even small amounts of grapes or raisins can cause kidney failure in cats. Excessive vomiting and hyperactivity are early signs that your cat might have taken her luxurious lounging a bit too far by munching on the gods’ fruit of choice.

3. Chocolate can kill your cat

A gray cat smelling a chocolate arrangement.

Chocolate can be very toxic to cats. Photography ©cunfek | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Chocolate may be a sweet treat for you — Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked, anyone? But no matter how your cat may try to woo you with solicitation purring, do not give her a bite — chocolate is toxic to cats! Thebromine, a bitter alkaloid of the cacao plant found in chocolate, can be lethal to cats. And it’s in all kinds of chocolate — even white chocolate. Dark chocolate and unsweetened baking chocolate are most dangerous and can cause abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death.

4. Lilies can kill your cat

Consider this when building your bouquets: Lilies are toxic to cats. For all of the details, check out resident Catster vet Dr. Eric Barchas’ post about lily toxicity and cats. As little as two leaves can cause kidney failure and potentially kill a cat within days. Symptoms include drooling, vomiting, loss of appetite and increased urination, followed by lack of urination after one to two days. The sooner your cat receives treatment after ingesting a lily, the better her chances for survival.

5. Booze can kill your cat

A fluffy cat sniffing beer.

Be careful — beer and any sort of alcohol can kill your cats. Photography by Anatoly Timofeev / Shutterstock.

Alcohol has exactly the same effect on your cat as it does on you — except it takes far less to get your kitty wasted. Only a few sips of booze will have your cat slurring her meows and making out with strangers, and as little as two teaspoons of liquor can put her into a coma. If you want to show your kitty a good time, best stick to the catnip.

6. Acetaminophen can kill your cat

Acetaminophen can be found in many over-the-counter pain relievers and other medications, and cats are especially sensitive to toxicity. In other words, if you drop a Tylenol on your white tile floor, do not give up looking until you find it! Symptoms of acetaminophen toxicity can include brownish-gray colored gums, labored breathing, swollen face or neck or limbs, hypothermia, vomiting, jaundice and coma.

7. Yarn can kill your cat

A hairless cat with a ball of string yarn.

Yarn may be synonymous with cats, but it can actually kill them. Photography by Dan Kosmayer / Shutterstock.

We’ve all seen those adorable posters of wide-eyed, fluffy kittens batting around a ball of yarn. But the damn cute factory needs to stop perpetrating these lies, because yarn — and string, dental floss and rubber bands — can kill a cat. Once a cat starts swallowing a piece of yarn, she will keep swallowing, and swallowing, and swallowing. The resulting mass of yarn can cause intestinal blockage, which can result in death. So maybe stick to the feather toy and the catnip banana — or just put the string away when playtime is over.

8. Aloe can kill your cat

Its juicy innards may feel good on your sunburn (and did you know about these other (human-only!) uses for aloe vera?), but the aloe plant is poisonous to cats. Symptoms include vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors and change in urine color.

Thumbnail:  Photography by Gladkova Svetlana / Shutterstock.

Read more about household dangers that could potentially kill or harm your cats: