Depending on how a particular substance affects your cat’s body and how much was ingested or inhaled, pet poisoning symptoms can include gastrointestinal and neurological problems, cardiac and respiratory distress, coma, and even death.
According to the Pet Poison Hotline, the top five sources of cat poisoning in 2011 were:
1. Medications for people. Pets have a much greater sensitivity to many of the common over-the-counter and prescription medications that may be in your home.
Some of the medications that often poison cats include:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. The most common cause of pet poisoning, these painkillers can cause ulcers in the stomach and intestines, and kidney damage.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is particularly toxic to cats, resulting in red blood cell damage. Just two extra-strength tablets may prove fatal to felines.
Antidepressants may cause vomiting and, in more serious instances, serotonin syndrome - a dangerous condition that raises temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, and may cause seizures.
Methylphenidate, an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drug, is a stimulant for pets, raising heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.
2. House plants. Cats are notorious for noshing on houseplants, and the habit isn’t just bad for your potted treasures. Many common, beautiful houseplants contain cat poisons that can cause serious harm, and even death. Some of the plants toxic to cats include:
Lilies. Ingesting even small amounts of Easter lilies and related plants can cause severe kidney failure in cats.
Azaleas and rhododendrons. These pretty flowering plants contain toxins that may result in vomiting, diarrhea, coma, and sometimes even death.
Tulips and daffodils. The bulbs of these plants, if ingested, may cause serious stomach problems, convulsions, and damage to the heart.
Sago palms. Eating just a few seeds may be enough to cause vomiting, seizures, and liver failure.
3. Insecticides. Products for your lawn and garden may be poisonous to animals that ingest them, perhaps by grooming themselves after walking or laying in a recently treated area.
4. Household cleaners. Just as cleaners like bleach can poison people, they are also a leading cause of pet poisoning, resulting in stomach and respiratory tract problems. Other common household products dangerous to cats include laundry detergent, kitchen and bath surface cleaners, carpet cleaners, and toilet bowl cleaners.
5. Glow sticks and jewelry. You went to a concert or a fireworks display and brought home a glow stick or glow necklace. Cats are attracted to them, but they contain a very bitter tasting liquid called dibutyl phthalate. While rarely deadly, just one bite into glow sticks can cause your cat to drool profusely.
Other common sources of poison to cats include:
Gum and candy that contain xylitol, a sugar substitute that harms cats and dogs.
Onions, garlic, chives. These plant foods can irritate the stomach and damage red blood cells.
Rat and mouse poison. Rodenticides, if ingested, can cause severe symptoms and may be fatal.
Chemical hazards. Not surprisingly, chemicals contained in antifreeze and paint thinner, and chemicals for pools, can act as cat poisons. The symptoms they may produce include stomach upset, depression, and chemical burns.
Heavy metals. Lead, which can be found in paint, linoleum, and batteries, can be poisonous if eaten by your cat. If ingested, lead can cause gastrointestinal and neurological problems.
Originally published by WebMD for Pets.