The third week in March (March 20 to March 26) will be the 54th Annual National Poison Prevention Week. In February 1962, President Kennedy signed a joint resolution proclaiming the third week in March as National Poison Prevention Week. The goal of the week is to raise awareness of the risk of being poisoned by household products, medicines, pesticides, plants, bites and stings, food poisoning and fumes.
PoisonPrevention.org reports that over two million poisonings are reported each year. Ninety percent of the poisonings occur in the home. They are the leading cause of death among adults (two-legged critters).
This article, however, will focus on poison dangers for our furry, beloved, four-legged critters. It is duly noted that one of the themes for two-legged critters is: “Children act fast…so do poisons.” Similarly, it can be said “Cats act fast…so do poisons.”
The following is a list of common poisons for our pets. The information is compiled and summarized from the websites of the American Humane Society, PoisonPrevention.org and WebMD:
- Indoor and outdoor plants
- Human medicines
- Human foods
- Insecticides and other chemicals
- Other common hazards
But…wait, spring is here! How can one think of poison when the world is blooming and blossoming anew and birds are chirping, singing and building nests? Easter is just around the corner! The fragrance and beauty of lilies abound in our stores, churches and homes. The regal white lily has been a mark of purity and grace throughout the ages. The flowers embody joy, hope and life.
So, how could one imagine that the regal white lily that embodies such positive virtues could be total poison to our precious cats? But, they are. The Humane Society of the United States unequivocally states: "Cats are poisoned by any part of a lily." To avoid an unfortunate circumstance, please do not place lily flowers or lily plants in your home if you have indoor cats and, your outdoor cats are at risk if you place lily plants outside.
A more detailed but not complete list of poisons is compiled as follows:
- Indoor and Outdoor Plants:
- Human Medicines:
- Cancer medicines
- Cold medicines
- Diet pills
- Pain relievers (acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen)
- Vitamins and other supplements
- Human Foods (many cats crave human food but it can be poisonous to your cat):
- Caffeine (coffee, soda, tea)
- Xylitol (found in sugarless gums, candies, toothpastes)
- Yeast dough
- Insecticides and Other Chemicals– cats can not only drink or eat some of these chemicals but they can also walk through them, get them on their feet and ingest the poison when they lick and clean their paws and pads:
- Antifreeze (common in garages)
- De-icing salts
- Dog flea and tick medication (pills, collars, sprays, shampoos)
- Fertilizers (beware of fertilizers for your indoor plants)
- Insect and rodent bait
- More Household Hazards:
- Chicken bones
- Dental floss, string
- Holiday decorations (including lights and tinsel
- Toys with small or movable parts (including feathers)
If your cat has been poisoned, every moment matters!
- Call your vet! (Have the following numbers always at hand)
- Your vet
- The nearest 24 hour emergency vet hospital
- The Animal Poison Control Center 888-426-4435. They can help you know what to do next.
- Collect samples: take samples of vomit, stool and the poison your cat consumed to the vet with your cat.
- Symptoms of poisoning in cats include:
- Breathing problems
- Dilated pupils
- Gastrointestinal irritation
- Skin irritation
- Educate: after your cat recovers, call your poison control center or humane society to let them know what happened to your pet so they can track problem poisons and help prevent other pet poisonings. Information for this article was obtained from the following websites: PoisonPrevention.org; Humane Society of the United States; American Humane Association; and WebMD/cats/poisons.