Dangers for Cats

The following obvious (and some less obvious) items and foodstuffs found around the home could be fatal to your cat:



In addition to obvious dangers such as rodenticides, insecticides and weed killers, cats may be poisoned by many chemicals that are usually considered safe.  This is because their livers are less effective at some forms of detoxification than those of other animals, including humans and dogs.  Some of the most common causes of poisoning in cats are antifreeze and rodent baits.

Human Medicines

Should never be given to cats.  For example, the painkiller paracetamol is extremely toxic to cats: even very small doses can be fatal and need immediate treatment.  Even aspirin, which is sometimes used to treat arthritis in cats, is much more toxic to them than to humans and must be administered cautiously.  Similarly, application of minoxidil (Rogaine) to the skin of cats, either accidentally or by well-meaning owners attempting to counter loss of fur, has sometimes been fatal.  Essential oils can be toxic to cats and there have been reported cases of serious illnesses caused by tea tree oil, and tea tree oil-based flea treatments and shampoos.


Household Substances

Common household substances that should be used with caution around cats include mothballs and other naphthalene products.

Phenol-based products are often used for cleaning and disinfecting near cats feeding areas or litter boxes: such as Pine-Sol,  Dettol (Lysol) or hexachlorophene, but these can sometimes be fatal if ingested.

Ethylene glycol, often used as an automotive antifreeze, is particularly appealing to cats, and as little as a teaspoonful can be fatal.


Human Food

Some human foods are toxic to cats; for example theobromine in chocolate can cause theobromine poisoning, although few cats will eat chocolate.  Large amounts of onions or garlic are also poisonous to cats.


Dog Food

Dog food should not be fed to cats due to the lower protein and fat levels.  The nutritional requirements of a cat are significantly different to a dogs.  Dog food should also not be fed to a cat as it lacks taurine which is essential to the health of a cat's heart and eyes.


House Plants

Many houseplants are also dangerous, such as Philodendron species and the leaves of the Easter Lily, which can cause permanent and life-threatening kidney damage.



If your cat appears unwell and you believe it could be due to something he has consumed, immediately phone your local veterinarian for advice.