Tips & Tricks: Top Toxic Substances for Cats

Hi everyone today’s advice post comes from Pets Best. Who announces the top toxic substances for Cats. We also have an infographic that can help you on how to keep your cat safe here.

Common household items top the list of toxic substances that send pets in for veterinary visits, according to a new survey released by Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC (Pets Best).

Toxins are one of the most frequent pet insurance claims submitted by pet owners partly due to the seemingly innocent nature of many substances that can harm dogs and cats.

cat with vet

Chocolate, headache medicine, grapes and raisins can all cause serious harm to dogs and make up some of the most likely substances to set off an emergency situation, according to the Pets Best survey. Cats are poisoned most often with a common flower, lilies, but also are susceptible to headache medicine, onions, chives and garlic.

“The majority of items on these lists are not toxic to humans,” said Dr. Jack Stephens, founder of Pets Best. “I’ve always felt that without that element of personal danger, many people tend to not realize the potentially harmful items that can be accessed by their pets.”

Even the most responsible owners can be surprised by what their pet finds in and around the house. Pets Best hopes that by raising awareness of these toxins that pet owners may be able to prevent these threats to their pets before they occur, keeping both pets and owners happy and healthy.

Both dogs and cats can also land at the veterinarian for more obvious dangers. Mouse/Rat poison is the second most common toxin causing a vet visit for dogs, and the third most common for cats, according to the survey.

The national survey was conducted by Pets Best Pet Insurance via an online survey administered between March 19 and April 21, 2015. A total of 362 veterinarians responded.

The most common toxic substances veterinarians treat cats for include:



Percent of All Responses








Mouse/Rat Poison



Dog Flea & Tick Products



Onions / Chives / Garlic



Sago Palm



Other human medications






Other Plants





“If a pet owner suspects their dog or cat has consumed any of these toxins, they should contact their veterinarian immediately,” said Dr. Stephens, “A quick response to the consumption of any toxic substance can mean a huge advantage in saving a pet’s life.”

About Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC

Dr. Jack L. Stephens, founder and director of Pets Best, founded pet insurance in the U.S. in 1981 with a mission to end euthanasia when pet owners couldn’t afford veterinary treatment. Dr. Stephens went on to present the first U.S. pet insurance policy to famous television dog Lassie. Pets Best provides coverage for dogs and cats. Dr. Stephens leads the Pets Best team with his passion for quality pet care and his expert veterinary knowledge. He is always available to answer questions regarding veterinary medicine, pet health and pet insurance. The Pets Best team is a group of pet lovers who strive to deliver quality customer service and value. Visit for more information.

Pet insurance coverage offered and administered by Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company, a Delaware insurance company. Independence American Insurance Company is a member of The IHC Group, an organization of insurance carriers and marketing and administrative affiliates that has been providing life, health, disability, medical stop-loss and specialty insurance solutions to groups and individuals for over 30 years. For information on The IHC Group, Additional insurance services administered by Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC are underwritten by Prime Insurance Company. Some existing business is underwritten by Aetna Insurance Company of Connecticut. Each insurer has sole financial responsibility for its own products.

Pets Best is a proud member of the North America Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA).


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37 thoughts on “Tips & Tricks: Top Toxic Substances for Cats

  1. The Road to Joy says:

    Very interesting, especially the aspirin and ibuprofen. I hope others are not as guilty as I am of leaving those pesky little kidproof lids loose–one paw swipe and major disaster. Gotta love the cat model in that picture–how did they get her to fix the vet with such a worshipful gaze? Ours would never even look at the receptionist, let alone anybody in white.

  2. colonialist says:

    The chocolate one strikes me as strange – a friend of mine had a Jack Russell-type dog positively addicted to the stuff. His master indulged him freely. He never seemed to suffer any ill effects, and lived to a really ripe old age.

  3. sledpress says:

    I go through an annual bout of cussing frustration when my loving, generous clients invariably present me with a gift of some plant that is toxic to cats. Poinsettias, Amaryllis, any variety of jonquil or paperwhite — argh! Actually, the only plant it is safe to have in a house with cats seems to be possibly a cactus.

    I don’t use commercial flea, tick or rodent products (who needs mouse and rat poison with SIX cats on the premises?). And I keep all my garlic and onions in a linen bag hanging up from the pantry shelves. But I’ve never seen any interest. The only close call I ever had was when I was arranging some cut branches from an overgrown azalea in a vase to put outside on the doorstep (knowing they were bad for cats) and Apricat, of blessed memory, snarfed up some blooms the minute my back was turned. I looked up the remedy hurriedly and put salt on the back of his tongue as directed — he went four steps, put his head down, upchucked four almost intact azalea blossoms and looked at me with an expression that clearly said “You swine!” But everyone was OK from it.

    • Marc-André says:

      Wow! Close call with Apricat. And I know what you mean about plants and cats. Nubia’s favourite plant are roses… Came home to an entire pot rose destroyed by her meowjesty. And she sat in the left overs looking rather proud and asking for more LOL

      • sledpress says:

        At least azaleas only “cause an upset stomach” or I wouldn’t have risked them in the least. Well, one way or another he was going to barf. But those amaryllis and poinsettias end up in the stairwell outside.

        • Marc-André says:

          The only house plant that neither of my two goes for are orchids. Just as well as my office tends to replace and chuck the old ones away every few weeks. So I end up with plenty of new perfectly fine orchids. The waste we do sometimes to keep things smart. ;(

  4. Lauren | The Lady in Waiting says:

    Thanks for sharing this with us. A friend of mine had some lilies in a vase in his home and popped out to the shops. He came home half an hour later and found his cat dead. It was so sad, I don’t think he ever really got over it 🙁

  5. lawjic says:

    When Ms. Cali was here and she would walk out to lay in the sun in our garden, FIRST she would go straight to eat all the lillies. So I had to watch her constantly and get her settled in the shade. As soon as I walked inside for a second, she would be eating lillies again. One bite? She would vomit. At least I knew how much she managed to consume in just seconds. Cats are VERY savvy and know how to sneak attack the lillies and other toxic things. Amazing to me.

  6. A Really Small Farm says:

    Good advice and suggestions. I would add that electric wires are a potential hazard to cats especially if they like chewing plastic (as some seem to). I’ve know of one cat who burned his mouth when he chewed a light cord. Also, cats like small children can be harmed by things we keep under our kitchen sinks so its a good idea to latch the doors for both of them.

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