Be a CatFriend...Know What's Cat-Toxic

Here's a letter we've received about poisonous outdoor plants that's a perfect opening for us to discuss other cat-toxic substances in and around your home....

Dear Cat,

We're looking at perking up our yard with some new shrubs and plants...we have two cats that we let outdoors during the day, but they're 12 years old and they don't go far, and we don't let them out at night. Anyway, a neighbor said to me "don't plant Oleanders, they're poisonous to cats." I'd never heard that, and realize that I don't know much about what plants/shrubs to avoid with two cats running around. Do you have a list you could email me? Thanks!

signed:   Green Thumb Dumb in AZ

To answer your question succintly, yes, Oleanders are poisonous to cats; don't plant them if your cat will be going outside. And if you allow him to roam (not a good idea by the way), be aware that they may ingest the plant in one of your neightbors yards.

If you want your cat to be able to go outside, and yet not roam, we suggest an electric/wired fence of some sort. In fact, we recommend it. But you still need to limit their outdoor exposure (ie. never let them out at night) and it helps to be "in the vicinity" of the cat while they're outdoors. We'll be covering the subject of Radio Fences, as they're called, in much more detail in the very near future, so stay tuned for that!

With the warmer weather here, click here and check out ASPCA's list of non-toxic plants.   Better yet, hit the print button on your browser and print it out!  Even more importantly -- and here's what you're looking for -- click here to print out a list of TOXIC plants.

You'll find these lists comprehensive and very helpful when adding plants to your home and yard! There are enough options that you will have all the beauty of plants without sacrifricing anything, especially your peace of mind about your cat's safety.

And while we're on the subject of cats and toxic plants, let's take it a step further and remind you -- or inform you for the first time -- of other toxic materials in and around your home. It always amazes us how few humans are aware of these things, or at least unaware UNTIL they have a very sick cat on their hands.

DON'T let cats ingest or chew on....these Common Household Products:

  • bleach,
  • deodorants
  • disinfectants
  • furniture polish
  • nail polish
  • shoe polish
  • mothballs
  • Batteries (are corrosive and can cause ulceration to the mouth, tongue, and the rest of the gastrointestinal tract)
  • Electrical cords (if chewed on they can electrocute your cat; some cats ignore cords, some love 'em; observe your cat and proceed accordingly)

DON'T let cats ingest or chew on.... these Common Foods/Beverages:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate (ALL forms)
  • Coffee (ALL forms of coffee)
  • Fatty foods
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Moldy or spoiled foods
  • Onions, onion powder
  • Raisins and grapes
  • Salt
  • Yeast dough

Be aware of these warm weather toxins:

  • Citronnella. liquid or candles
  • Cocoa mulch
  • Compost piles
  • Fertilizers
  • Flea products
  • Swimming pool treatment supplies
  • Blue-green algae in ponds
  • Animal toxins - toads, spiders, snakes and scorpions
  • Toxic plants/shrubs, see list of them here.

And these Pesticide Hazards for cats:

  • Always use pesticides in accordance with label instructions.
  • Keep pets away from treated areas for the label recommended amount of time.
  • Store unused products in areas that will always be inaccessible to pets.
  • Be aware that fly baits containing methomyl and slug and snail baits containing metaldehyde are particularly dangerous.

And these Medication Hazards for cats:

  • Keep all prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs out of the reach of your pets, preferably in closed cabinets.
  • Remind guests to store their medications safely as well.
  • Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, vitamins, and diet pills are common examples of human medication that could be potentially lethal EVEN IN SMALL DOSAGES...for example, one regular-strength ibuprofen tablet (200mg) can cause stomach ulcers in a 10-pound dog or cat.

If you suspect your cat has ingested something lethal or irritating, BE SAFE, NOT SORRY and call your Vet. You can also contact....

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