What Could Have Poisoned My Cat? A Guide to Toxic Plants and Substances

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what could have poisoned my cat

What could have poisoned my cat? Depending on your cat’s access to the outdoors, there are a number of different toxic plants and substances that can be poisonous to cats.

Household cleaners that contain chemicals can be poisonous to cats, including rat poison and ant or fly killer. How much your cat consumes will determine the severity of symptoms, but veterinary attention should be sought even if symptoms are mild. Cats and other small pets can quickly go downhill after consuming a toxic substance.

Many plants are commonly kept as house plants or grown outdoors, which can cause nasty symptoms in animals, including cats.

This article will answer the question, ‘what could have poisoned my cat?’ We’ll look at some of the most toxic plants and discuss other substances that can affect animals.

What could have poisoned my cat?

what could have poisoned my cat

If you have a cat, it’s best to avoid toxic plants and substances in your home as much as possible. Some cats seem to be able to live side by side with poisonous plants without feeling the need to nibble on them, while others will be tempted to have a chew. It all depends on the cat’s personality.

If you suspect your cat may have been poisoned, there are a few culprits which will fit into one of the categories below:


Plants such as lilies, azaleas, and sago palms are also highly toxic to cats. Ingesting these can cause seizures, vomiting, breathing difficulties, and liver failure in cats and should be avoided at all costs. 

Some plants, such as lilies, are highly toxic and shouldn’t be grown in a pet-friendly home. As cats like to rub against things, toxic pollen can be dropped onto a cat’s fur and accidentally consumed during grooming.

As lilies are particularly poisonous and consuming even a tiny piece of the leaf, flower, or pollen can be fatal, it’s best to avoid the following varieties:

  • Peace Lily
  • Day Lily
  • Easter Lily
  • Tiger Lily
  • Rubrum
  • Japanese Lily

To increase the chances of survival for your pet, contact a vet immediately. Young kittens can be particularly affected by nibbling on lilies.  

Household solutions

Common household items such as detergents, cleaning products, antifreeze, drain cleaners, pesticides, rat poison, and slug pellets are all toxic to cats if ingested.


Human medications (especially those containing acetaminophen) can cause severe harm or even death in cats. Never give painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to a cat.

You should also use flea and tick prevention treatments with care, always read the label, and apply the product correctly, as ingesting these solutions can cause cats problems.

Never use insect prevention that’s been designed for dogs, as many of these products contain a chemical called Permethrin which, although well tolerated by dogs, is highly poisonous to cats.

Human foods

When it comes to your cat’s diet, it’s best to avoid human foods completely, as salt can be toxic to cats, even in small amounts. Other ingredients, such as garlic and onions, are toxic to cats, so it’s best not to give your pet any leftovers. 

Here are some foods you should never feed your cat:

  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Dried fruits, especially grapes, sultanas, raisins, and currants

Essential oils

Undiluted essential oils are poisonous to cats if ingested. Ensure you water down oils if you are using them for cleaning purposes in a household with cats. It may be best to keep cats away from essential oils as even a small amount can be toxic, and most essential oils can affect cats, including the following common essences: 

  • Cinnamon, citrus, or clove oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Lavender
  • Pennyroyal, peppermint, or pine essential oil
  • Sweet birch
  • Tea tree 
  • wintergreen
  • Ylang-ylang essential oil

Salt lamps

Sodium poisoning is a problem for cats, so felines need to avoid salt in their diet. If a cat eats food containing salt or licks a salt lamp, they may suffer symptoms such as weight loss, lethargy and weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and disorientation. In the worse cases, cats can also suffer from seizures after licking a Himalayan salt lamp.

What to do if your cat has been poisoned?

If you suspect your cat may have been poisoned, seek veterinary attention immediately. Your vet can carry out further tests and treatments to help save your cat’s life. Make sure to bring along any substances your cat may have come into contact with or ingested, as well as a sample of the vomit and stool, if available.

Being proactive in keeping dangerous and toxic substances away from your cat is the best way to reduce the risk of poisoning. By learning more about what can harm your cat, you can ensure they stay safe and healthy.

Knowing the signs of poisoning in cats is also critical. These include the following symptoms:

  • difficulty breathing
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • drooling excessively
  • seizures 
  • depression or lethargy

If you notice any of these signs, seek immediate veterinary attention. 

Will my cat recover after being poisoned?

Recovery is possible after consuming a toxic substance or plant. However, this will depend on your pet’s age, general health, and how quickly they receive medical attention. Unfortunately, cats are less likely to recover than dogs as they are smaller and often consume a plant or chemical without their owners realizing it until its too late.

Cats are often poisoned by walking in a substance and then consuming it while grooming. They are also less able to eliminate toxic substances from their bodies than dogs. They can suffer bad symptoms that can prove fatal even after ingesting a small amount of a poisonous substance.

What could have poisoned my cat: Conclusion

By taking the necessary steps to keep your cat safe from potential toxins, including household substances and toxic plants, and knowing what to do in an emergency, you can help ensure that your pet stays healthy.

Check out our article, ‘which plants are toxic to cats?’ to find out which plants to avoid when creating a cat friendly yard. 

You can also contact the ASPCA poison control department for more information about poisonous substances.

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