The Household Items That Are Harmful to Cats

Cat sniffs plant growing on a windowsill, indoors.

Cats are curious by nature and happiest when exploring new environments at their leisure. Despite having superb survival skills, a feline’s curiosity could increase their likelihood of consuming or encountering a toxic product that may pose a risk to their health.

As your pet’s human companion, it’s your job to keep your furry feline as safe as possible, which may mean removing some hazardous items from your home or placing them out of reach. Learn about the household items that are harmful to cats.


Many pet families might not think twice about incorporating beautiful houseplants into one or more rooms in the home. However, some varieties are toxic to cats, which may lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, or worse. Some plants and flowers don’t even need to be consumed to trigger a reaction in cats:  some plants, like poison ivy, cause irritation on contact. Other plants leave toxic pollen on your cat’s skin and haircoat, which are later ingested during grooming.    Ingesting small amounts of pollen from a lily can cause a critical illness. 

If a cat ingests or encounters a toxic houseplant, you mustn’t delay seeking veterinary care to avoid illness or fatal organ failure If you suspect toxic plant exposure, acting quickly and decisively can be your cat’s key to a good recovery. The right pet insurance policy can help manage the cost of life-saving veterinary care.

Cleaning products

Various household cleaning products are harmful to cats, as they may cause vomiting, breathing difficulties, chemical burns, excessive drooling, and fatalities. 

For this reason, you must keep the following items away from your furry friend:

  • Bleach
  • Detergent
  • Toilet bowl cleaners
  • Antifreeze

Ensure you and your loved ones close the lid on the toilet, as a cat might be tempted to drink water from the bowl when thirsty. Also, you must carefully dispose of any washing liquid or detergents, which you should never leave uncovered.

Human foods

Cats are known for being a little greedy and might have no qualms about climbing onto countertops or into trash cans for an extra serving of food.

However, many human foods are toxic to cats and may cause a range of health problems such as gastrointestinal issues, red blood cell damage, or kidney failure.

Keep the following items out of a cat’s reach:

  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Caffeine-based products, such as coffee and chocolate
  • Onions and garlic
  • Raw dough
  • Alcohol
  • Products containing xylitol, such as gum, toothpaste, and mints.


Cats should only receive medication prescribed by a veterinarian for a specific health issue. Any pill, liquid, ointment, cream, or vitamin for human consumption should be stored away from a feline, as it could cause a serious health issue or prove fatal.

Place medication in a cabinet to prevent a cat from consuming it, and never touch your pet when you have a cream or ointment on your skin. If you suspect a cat has ingested a medication or even a cosmetic product, call or visit a vet right away.

Insect or rodent baits

Insects and rodent baits might be your first port of call when experiencing an infestation in your home. However, the poisons can cause severe illness in cats, which you must address immediately by visiting a vet.

If a cat consumes an insect or rodent poison, they might stagger, walk with an unusual gait, become lethargic, or have blood in their urine, vomit, or faeces. Also, the baits can result in laboured breathing or visible bruising due to blood clotting abnormalities.

Curious cats need extra care

The adage "curiosity killed the cat" serves as a poignant reminder of the potential dangers lurking within the average household. As guardians of our inquisitive feline friends, it is imperative to foster a safe environment, meticulously screening for and mitigating hazards that could compromise their well-being.

Vigilance and prompt action are crucial in the event of accidental exposure or ingestion. Moreover, investing in a suitable pet insurance policy can alleviate the financial strain of emergency veterinary treatments, ensuring your cat receives the best possible care without delay. Ultimately, by taking these precautions, we can provide our beloved cats with a secure and nurturing home where they can explore, play, and thrive under our watchful care.

Article reviewed by: Dr. Jennifer Sperry, DVM.
The information provided and contained herein are the opinions of PTZ Insurance Services Ltd. which are based on external publication. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice. PTZ Insurance Services Ltd. assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss, claims or damages arising out of the within content.