Cats are part of the family but there are some foods that we eat regularly, and products that we leave lying around that are harmful to them. The following are some things that we commonly eat and use around the home that should be avoided. If you think that your cat has ingested any of these, call your vet for advice.
The Onion family (Onion, Garlic, Shallot, Spring onion, Leek, Chives) – All foods part of the onion family are toxic to cats. They can break down a cat’s red blood cells, leading to anaemia. The damage is often seen a few days after ingestion and can manifest as lethargy, pale gums and an orange/red colour to their urine. Most cats won’t eat onion and garlic by choice but be wary of sauces/baby food (which often contain onion powder) and leftovers.
Stems, leaves and eyes of potatoes, tomatoes, chillis, aubergene, paprika – These contain the toxin glycoalkanoid solamineare and should be kept out of reach of your cat.
Alcohol – Any kind of alcohol can harm your cat, causing liver and brain damage. As little as a few teaspoons of strong alcohol (whiskey, vodka, etc) can lead to death. Watch out for alcoholic drinks containing milk or cream as cats tend to be attracted to them.
Grapes & Raisins – Grapes & raisins can cause severe vomiting, hyperactivity and kidney failure in cats.
Citrus fruits – Citrus fruits can cause vomiting in cats.
Avocado – Avocados contain the toxin persin. It can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, fluid accumulation around the heart, and in some cases death.
Pips/stones from apple,cherry,apricot,peach – These can result in cyanide poisoning if ingested.
Citrus Oil extract (Limonene and Linalool – found in insect repellents, shampoos, food additives and perfumes) – Can cause drooling, weakness, hypothermia, lack of coordination, liver failure and death.
Caffeine (chocolate, fizzy drinks, energy drinks, tea, coffee) – This causes over stimulation of the heart and nervous system and can lead to rapid breathing, heart problems, tremors and seizures.
Chocolate – Chocolate (especially dark/cooking chocolate) can be lethal to cats as it contains the toxic substance theobromine. This can cause heart problems, seizures and even death.
Rhubarb leaves – Rhubarb leaves affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems.
Macadamia nuts – Macadamia nuts can cause lethargy, vomiting, lack of coordination and paralysis.
Mushrooms – Mushroom toxicity varies with species but can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, liver, kidney and heart damage and potentially death.
Cooked bones – Cooked bones can splinter and cause internal injuries.
Xylitol (Sweets, toothpaste, chewing gum, sweeteners) – Foods containing xylitol can cause vomiting, lethargy, seizures and liver failure.
Yeast dough – Even small amounts of raw bread dough, containing yeast can cause severe bloating, disorientation, vomiting and seizures.
Mouldy food – Spoiled food should not be fed to cats. The bacteria and toxins can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and affect internal organs.
Fat trimmings – Too much fat can cause digestive upset and pancreatitis.
Tobacco – Nicotine can cause rapid heart beat, coma and death in cats.
Painkillers, cold medicines, antidepressants, diet pills, vitamin supplements, pain relief creams – Many human medicines are incredibly toxic to cats. Ingredients such as aspirin, paracetamol or ibuprofen, which are common in human medications can cause death in a cat. Please also be very careful of your cat licking any cream off your skin as some of these can be deadly.
Cleaning Products – Many cleaning products are also toxic to cats, so always check what you are using. Cleaning products that turn milky in water such as dettol are especially harmful.
Bathroom products (hair dye, nail varnish remover, suntan lotion, deodorant) – Many beauty products are dangerous so be aware and keep them away from your cat.
Painting products (paint, white spirit, creosote) – Painting products such as these are all harmful to cats. Make sure that your cat doesn’t walk through them and is unable to knock them over.
Motoring products (antifreeze, screen wash, brake fluid, petrol, de-icers) – Can cause kidney failure and death in even small amounts. Antifreeze is sweet tasting and deadly to cats so be very careful where you keep it.
Mothballs, Shoepolish, deodorisers, washing powder/capsules – These are all toxic to your cat.
Garden products (Chemical pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, slug pellets, rodent poisons) – These can all cause your cat serious harm so be careful what you use and where you use it.
This is not a comprehensive list so please always check before giving your cat a food or using a cleaning or garden product. Salt & Sugar in large amounts can be harmful to cats, and Tuna should only be fed as an occasional treat. The following links have more information on cat toxins.
Many plants are also toxic to cats