Every home contains hazards for cats, including ones that are seemingly benign. Here’s a overview of the most common toxic foods and plants that may be lurking in your home presenting hazards for cats.
Foods That Are Poisonous To Cats
Alcoholic Beverages: These can cause intoxication, coma, and death.
Baby Food Containing Onion Powder: Onions are toxic to cats. If you feed your cat baby food, read the label and make sure it does not contain onion powder. A steady baby food diet will result in nutritional deficiencies in your cat, so save it for treats, or to stimulate appetites in cats that are old or ill.
Bones From Fish, Poultry, Or Other Meat Sources: These can cause obstruction or laceration of the digestive system.
Canned Tuna (For Human Consumption): Fed regularly, it can cause malnutrition, since it lacks proper feline nutrients, including taurine. Also, it can contain mercury, which can be detrimental to your cat’s health over time.
Caffeine (From Chocolate, Coffee, Or Tea): Caffeine can affect the heart and nervous system and can be toxic.
Chocolate: In addition to caffeine, chocolate contains theobromine, a compound that is toxic to pets. Theobromine is also present in cocoa bean mulch.
Citrus Oil Extracts: Can cause vomiting.
Dog Food: Accidental ingestion of dog food won’t cause a problem. Repeated feeding may result in malnutrition and heart disease.
Fat Trimmings: Can cause pancreatitis and contribute to obesity.
Grapes and Raisins: Contain an unknown toxin which damages the kidneys.
Human Vitamin Supplements Containing Iron: Can damage the lining of the digestive system and be toxic to the other organs including the liver and kidneys.
Large Amounts Of Liver: Can cause Vitamin A toxicity, which affects muscles and bones.
Macadamia Nuts: Contain an unknown toxin which can affect the digestive and nervous systems.
Marijuana: Can depress the nervous system and cause vomiting and heart rate changes.
Milk And Other Dairy Products: Some adult cats do not have sufficient amounts of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk. This can result in diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset.
Mushrooms: Some contain toxins that affect multiple systems in the body, cause shock, and result in death.
Onions And Garlic (Raw, Cooked, Or Powder): These contain sulfoxides and disulfides, which can damage red blood cells and cause anemia. Cats are more susceptible than dogs.
Persimmons: Persimmon seeds can cause intestinal obstruction and enteritis.
Potato, Rhubarb And Tomato Leaves And Stems, Green Tomatoes Or Potatoes: These foods are members of the family of plants which includes the Deadly Nightshade, and contain the poisonous alkaloid Glycoalkaloid Solanine, which can cause violent lower gastrointestinal problems.
Raw Eggs: Contain the enzyme avidin, which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). This can lead to skin and hair coat problems. Raw eggs may contain Salmonella.
Raw Fish: Can result in a thiamine deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and death.
Salt: If eaten in large quantities it may lead to electrolyte imbalances.
Sugar-Laden Foods: Can lead to obesity, dental problems, and diabetes mellitus.
Tobacco: Ingesting nicotine can result in rapid heart beat, collapse, coma, and death.
Yeast Dough: Can expand and produce gas in the digestive system, causing pain and rupture of the stomach or intestines.
String: Although it’s not a food, string and objects like tinsel, thread, dental floss and rubber bands are often swallowed by cats, requiring emergency treatment. If you see a piece of string or tinsel in your cat’s anus, don’t pull it out! You could cause serious harm to the gastrointestinal tract. Take your cat to the vet immediately.
Plants That are Poisonous to Cats
If you do nothing more than ban Lilies and Poinsettias from your house, you’ll be much closer to preventing your cat from plant poisoning. These two seasonal plants are common holiday additions to many households, but should be banned permanently from homes with pets.
Here’s a list of plants that are toxic to cats and the symptoms of poisoning:
Amaryllis: Vomiting and diarrhea
Azalea: Incoordination, trembling, collapse
Cactus: Punctures skin which can become infected
Caladium: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shaking head, difficulty breathing
Creeping Charlies: Vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, cramps
Lilies: Kidney failure
Dieffenbachia: Central nervous system problems
Ivy: Vomiting, diarrhea, excitable behavior
Mistletoe: Vomiting, diarrhea, blistering in the mouth, difficulty breathing
Philodendron: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shaking head, difficulty breathing
Poinsettia: Vomiting, diarrhea, blistering in the mouth, difficulty breathing
For a comprehensive lists of plants poisonous to cats, see the Cat Fancier’s Association list.
If You Think Your Cat Has Been Poisoned
Contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center at one of these numbers: 1-900-443-0000 or 1-888-426-4435