Dangerous to cats - this list is not exhaustive

Cats are generally more sensible than dogs when it comes to eating things they shouldn’t, however there are still a few things you should watch out for.

Any food not specifically designed for cats can affect the digestive system, causing vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite.

Painkillers - The way a cat’s body works is very different to humans, so you shouldn’t ever give your cat any drugs meant for people. Painkillers are particularly dangerous, especially paracetamol and ibuprofen. Although vets do sometimes prescribe human medicines for cats, the dosage is very complex so don’t try it at home.

Mice and rat poison - Rodenticides can be toxic for your cat, either by coming into contact with the poison directly or by eating a mouse that has been poisoned. If you have a pet, it’s much safer to find another way to get rid of your unwanted house guests.

Flea or tick products - Spot-ons, flea collars, powders and shampoos are a common cause of poisoning in cats. This is usually down to using a treatment that was meant for dogs, giving them the wrong dose or using two types of treatment together. It’s always better to buy your products from a vet but, if you do get a shop-bought product, make sure you follow the directions very carefully.

Lilies - Even a dusting of pollen on a cat’s coat is enough to cause a reaction to many types of lily, including Easter, tiger and oriental lilies. Cat owners should avoid having lilies in the house. While most cats tend to ignore plants, kittens and indoor cats are more prone to chewing them so, if you have an indoor cat, you might want to consider avoiding houseplants all together.

Antifreeze - If you use antifreeze make sure your cat is out of the way and store it safely and securely away from prying paws. Don’t forget to mop up any pools of spilled antifreeze so your cat won’t come into contact with it.

Paint remover - Keep your cat out of the room when you’re using products like white spirit and turpentine and, if your cat does get paint on their fur, don’t try to take it off yourself – that’s a job for the vet!

Slug pellets - If you want to get rid of slugs, it’s best to either use a non-toxic form of slug control or cover treated areas with chicken wire so your cat can’t get to them.

Coal/tar-based products - This includes things like creosote and disinfectants that turn cloudy when mixed with water. Most diluted cleaning products are fine if the directions on the label are followed properly, but keep them out of the way to be on the safe side and contact your vet if your cat drinks a significant amount.

Onions - Onions contain a substance that can be toxic for cats and, even when it’s just used as flavouring in food, it can cause problems. Either way, onion or no onion, giving your cat scraps from the dinner table seems like a nice treat but they might not thank you later when they’re suffering from a poorly stomach. If you want to use treats, for example during training, stick to ones made especially for cats and remember that most treats are high in calories and fat.

Has my cat been poisoned?

Common signs to look out for include:

Staggering, shaking or other odd behaviour
Red, raw, swollen or blistering skin, mouth, throat or paws
Difficulty breathing

It’s possible that your cat may also have been poisoned if they go off their food for a day or more so it’s worth calling your vet for advice. 

Immediate care

If you suspect your cat has eaten something he shouldn’t, try to determine how much she may have eaten and contact your vet for specific advice. In many cases small quantities may not cause a problem but larger quantities may require treatment.