Recently we have treated several cats for acute toxicity. These cases have resulted from cats ingesting parts of lilies. If you have lilies in your garden or in your home, it is important to know that even a small amount of any part of the plant can be rapidly harmful, often fatal, to cats. Check out the ASPCA's poison control page for more information. There are many items around the home that can be hazardous.
Here are things to look out for:
Many common household plants, foods, human medications, and household products are toxic to pets. Cats can be exposed to these harmful substances through ingestion, grooming, inhalation or skin absorption.
Many plants (Ivies, poinsettias) contain calcium oxalate crystals that can cause gastrointestinal upset and oral irritation.
Lilies are EXTREMELY TOXIC to cats. Although the exact chemical that causes the toxicity has not been identified, it is known that ingestion of the any part of the lily plant (flower, stem, leaf) can cause acute, often irreversible kidney failure within 24 hours. Lily intoxication is often fatal.
Onions/Garlic: Onions and to a lesser extent, garlic contain a compound (N-propyl disulfide) that causes destruction of red blood cells (Heinz body anemia).
Chocolate: Contains a compound (theobromine) that is similar to caffeine. Exposure can cause panting, hypersalivation, and tremors that can progress to heart arrhythmias, coma, and death
Any medication can be toxic and potentially fatal to cats. It is important to keep all medications away from pets!
Acetaminophen (Tylenol): Ingestion causes destruction of red blood cells, respiratory distress, facial edema, liver failure and is often fatal.
NSAIDS (aspirin, ibuprofen, etc): Ingestion can cause gastrointestinal signs (vomiting) related to the formation of stomach ulcers. Kidney failure may also occur.
Cleaners/Detergents: Cats are typically exposed to cleaners either through direct ingestion or indirectly by grooming the substance from their fur. Clinical signs include: drooling, vomiting, difficulty breathing
Antifreeze: Contains ethylene glycol. Ingestion will cause acute, often irreversible, kidney failure and death.
1) Over-the-counter topical flea medications: Over exposure most often occurs when dog formulations are used on cats. Cats are extremely sensitive to permethrins. Exposure can cause hypersalivation, tremors, seizures and possibly death.
2) Lawn and garden products
If you discover that your cat has been exposed to a potentially toxic compound, call your veterinarian immediately.
You may also consult the Pet Poison Helpline: 1-800-213-6680, www.petpoisonhelpline.com
Published on March 5, 2013.