Common Toxins for Cats

We all want the best for our cats, and sometimes that can mean that we want to treat them too. But it’s important to make sure that what you see as a treat, isn’t harmful for your cat. The best approach, if you’re not sure, is to not give your cat anything that isn’t a product or food labelled as suitable for cats. Don’t give cats human food.


There are also some other common household items and plants that are toxic to cats and should be avoided:




Most cats are lactose intolerant, meaning that the cat who got the cream would have actually felt quite sick instead of pleased with himself!

Cats get a lot of the water they need each day from their food, especially if you are feeding them wet food. So, it often feels like they don’t ‘like’ the water you put down for them as you won’t see them drinking very much of it. This doesn’t mean that they prefer or will only drink milk, as the chances are that it could be giving them a bad stomach.

Branded cat milk is not necessary to give to your cat but can make a nice treat now and then.




Anti-freeze is poisonous for cats, although they are thought to be attracted to it because of its sweet taste. It is important to store it out of reach of your cats and make sure the container is fully sealed.

When putting anti-freeze in your car it is worth thinking about using a funnel to avoid spills. If any does spill then washing it away immediately is important as even a small amount digested by your cat could be very harmful.

If you think your cat may have drunk anti-freeze then you must take them to your Best Friends Vet practice immediately. Symptoms may include vomiting, drooling, and loss of appetite.




Just as with dogs, chocolate is also poisonous to cats. It is a key substance, theobromine, that is not suitable for them and can be toxic even in small amounts. So best to keep the chocolate treats for yourself and treat your cat another way!


Pine-based cleaning products


A key ingredient, found in many pine-based cleaning products, can be toxic to cats. Phenols are found in any cleaner with ‘sol’ in its name. These include floor cleaners, disinfectants, paint and varnish removers and rubber adhesives.

A cat walking over floors that have been recently cleaned will pick up these products, and then ingest them when they lick their paws to clean themselves. They can also inhale them after cleaning has taken place.

Symptoms from phenol poisoning can include burns and hyperventilation, and can lead damage to their liver, heart and kidneys.


Paracetamol / Ibuprofen


Pain killers that are designed for humans, like paracetamol and ibuprofen, are toxic for cats and should not be given to them as pain relief.

As with children, please make sure all medications are kept out of reach from your feline friends!

If you think your cat is in pain, it is best to take them to your Best Friends Vet practice where a vet can assess them and give them the right treatment and medicines for their condition.


Lilies and other flowers


You will probably have seen your cat eating grass out in the garden. This is normal cat behaviour. The problem is when they decide to chew on your houseplants in the same way.

The orange pollen on lilies is toxic to cats. If you have these in your house it is best to move them to a place where your cat can’t reach them, or brush against them, as the pollen causes kidney failure in cats. They are attracted by the sweet smell, so it is worth thinking about removing the temptation entirely by replacing them with a different flower.

Many other common flowers planted in your garden or used in flower arrangements are not good for you cat if eaten. These include, but are not limited to, chrysanthemums, foxgloves, sweet peas, poppies, ferns and ivy.  It is wise to avoid these plants in your garden and choose cat-friendly alternatives.


What do I do if I think my cat has been poisoned?


If you believe your cat has been poisoned either by any of the common examples above, or anything else, please take them to your local Best Friends veterinary practice immediately.


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