Beware: People Food and Drugs Can Harm Your Cats

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This is a sponsored post by veterinarian Elizabeth Arguelles, owner of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne Plaza. She writes weekly on Reston Now.

There are many common foods, household products and medications that are perfectly safe for humans but potentially deadly to felines. If ingested, a lot of things could make your cat very sick or even kill your furry companion. And because cats are so small, even the tiniest amounts can be harmful.

Below is a short list of things around the house to keep your cat out of. It is not comprehensive, though, so please consult the American Society for the Protection of Animals website for more information. If you have any doubts about a particular substance, you can also call Poison Control.

Foods: Though it can be tempting to do, it is generally not a good idea to give your cat food from your own table. Several common ingredients in our dishes can be harmful if your cat should ingest them. For example, onions, garlic, artificial and sugar-free sweeteners, yeast and alcohol are all toxic to cats. Other foods to keep away from your felines include grapes, avocados, coffee and tea.

The one to really watch out for, though, is chocolate. Though all varieties are toxic, the darker chocolates are generally more harmful. And because it contains methylzanthine, baker’s chocolate is the most dangerous of all.

Household products: Cats are beloved for their curiosity, but as the old saying goes, that can get them into trouble. Especially when they go sniffing in places where dangerous chemicals are stored. Household cleaning agents such as laundry detergent, toilet bowl cleaner, rust remover and bleach can cause excessive drooling, difficulty breathing, vomiting and burns inside the mouth and esophagus if they are ingested by your cat. Be sure to store these products in an inaccessible place.

Many gardening and lawn care products can also be toxic to felines. Poisons designed to kill insects, weeds or rodents are very dangerous to your cats as well. Cocoa mulch and fertilizers should also be kept out of reach. And though not a gardening product, antifreeze is particularly deadly, so please take care that your cat cannot get into a bottle of it.

Medications: It should not be surprising that medications intended for humans are not generally good for cats. Here is a short list of things that cats should not consume:

  • Over-the-counter painkillers (Advil, Aleve, Motrin, Tylenol)
  • Antidepressants (Cymbalta, Prozac, Lexapro)
  • ADD/ADHD medications (Concerta, Adderall, Ritalin)
  • Sleep aids (Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, Lunesta)
  • Birth control pills (Estrogen, Estradiol, Progesterone)
  • ACE inhibitors (Zestril, Altace)
  • Beta blockers (Tenormin, Torol, Coreg)
  • Thyroid hormones (Armour, dessicated thyroid, Synthroid)
  • Cholesterol-lowering medications (Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor)

If you suspect that your cat has ingested any of the above, please call your vet or Poison Control immediately at 1-800-222-1222.

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