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Tips to Prevent Cat Poisonings

By: Courtesy of ASPCA

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Cat poisonings are common and the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ®) is cautioning pet owners everywhere to be mindful of exposing their furry relatives to substances and other items that may prove harmful to them.

"Every year thousands of animals are hurt and sometimes seriously injured by poisonous items-many as seemingly innocent as a plant," says Dr. Steven Hansen, veterinary toxicologist and senior vice president of the ASPCA's Midwest Office in Urbana, Ill., which also houses the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. To help pet owners identify potentially dangerous objects, the ASPCA has the following tips:

  • Be aware of the plants you have in your home and yard: Some plants such as Sago Palm, Oleander and Rhodendron can be toxic to pets if ingested. Lilies can be especially toxic to cats.

  • Do not allow your cats to have access to the areas in which cleaning agents are being used or stored: Cleaning agents have a variety of properties; some may only cause mild stomach upset, but others can cause severe burns of the tongue, mouth and stomach.

  • Be careful when using rat and mouse baits: "The most common active ingredients found in rat and mouse baits are anticoagulants, which interfere with blood clotting processes," says Dr. Hansen. "Ingredients of this type include warfarin, brodifacoum, bromadiaoline, difacinone and difethialone. Other formulations can contain bromethalin, cholecalciferol, zinc phosphide or strychnine, which are designed to kill rodents by affecting various other critical body systems. Some baits also contain inactive ingredients meant to attract rodents, and these ingredients can sometimes be attractive to pets as well."

  • Read the label first: Always read the label before using flea products on or around your pets. For example, some flea products for dogs can be deadly if given to cats.

  • Keep all prescription and over-the-counter drugs out of your cats' reach, preferably in closed cabinets: Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, vitamins and diet pills are all examples of human medications that can be lethal to animals, even in small doses.

  • Be aware of foods that are inappropriate for pets: Food items that potentially could be dangerous to pets include onions, onion powder, chocolate (bakers, semi sweet, milk, dark), products sweetened with xylitol (such as chewing gum), raisins and grapes, alcoholic beverages, yeast dough, coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans, tea (caffeine), salt, macadamia nuts, hops (used in home beer brewing), tomato leaves and stems (green parts),), rhubarb leaves, avocados (toxic to birds, mice, rabbits, horses, cattle, and dairy goats), moldy or spoiled foods.

  • Common household items can be lethal to animals: Many liquid potpourri formulations contain ingredients such as essential oils and detergents that could be quite hazardous to pets. "Because of the risk for serious illness, pet owners should place potpourri simmer pots and unused liquid in rooms where pets cannot gain access," says Dr. Hansen. "Also consider using relatively safer alternatives, such as plug-in or solid air fresheners used in out-of-reach locations, not in close proximity to pets with sensitive respiratory tracts such as birds." Other items potentially dangerous to pets include mothballs, pennies, tobacco products, homemade play dough, fabric softener sheets, dishwashing detergent, and batteries.

  • Automotive products such as gasoline, oil and antifreeze should be stored in areas that are inaccessible to your pets: As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat.

  • Make sure your cats do not go on lawns or in gardens treated with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides until they have dried completely: Always store such products in areas that are inaccessible to your pets. If you are uncertain about the usage of any product, contact the manufacturer for clarification before using it.

    About the ASPCA:

    The ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center is the premier animal poison control center in North America. An allied agency of the University of Illinois, it is the only facility of its kind staffed by 25 veterinarians (nine of whom are board-certified toxicologists and 14 certified veterinary technicians. Located in Urbana, Ill., the specially-trained staff provides assistance to pet owners and specific analysis and treatment recommendations to veterinarians pertaining to toxic chemicals and dangerous plants, products or substances, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information on potentially dangerous substances in the home or to reach the ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center, please call 1-888-426-4435 or visit www.aspca.org/apcc .

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