What should I do if my cat's been poisoned?

If you suspect that your cat has been poisoned, it's best to stay calm and contact your vet immediately (never watch and wait). Avoid attempting to treat your cat yourself as many medicines intended for humans and other animals can actually harm cats. We advise that you never attempt to cause your cat to vomit, as doing so may cause more harm than good. If skin or fun is contaminated, try washing with a mild shampoo.

What to do if you think your cat has been poisoned:

  1. Stay calm. Remove your cat(s) from the source of poison.
  2. Contact your vet immediately; inform them when, where and how poisoning occurred. If appropriate, carefully take the packaging/plant/substance to the vet. Don't expose yourself to any harm.
  3. Follow your vet's advice.

Never attempt to treat/medicate cats yourself. Some medicines for humans and other animals may be poisonous to cats.

Never attempt to make cats vomit. Do not use salt water as it's extremely dangerous.

If skin/fur is contaminated, wash with mild shampoo and water, rinse well and dry.

Keep cats away from any other animals to avoid cross-contamination.

Never 'watch and wait'. If you suspect your pet's been poisoned, contact a vet immediately.

Preventing poisoning in cats: 

Follow our tips below to keep your cat safe from poisons and ensure you're covered should the worst happen. Insure your cat.

In the home:

  • Keep an eye on your cat.
  • Keep houseplants where cats cannot reach them. Collect dropped leaves/petals.
  • Keep pesticides away from areas cats can access.
  • If treating pets with insecticides, separate them from other pets.


  • Ensure areas your cat has access to are free from, and not overhung by, poisonous plants.
  • Ensure areas your cats access are free from, and not overhung by, poisonous plants.
  • Ensure cats' water supplies cannot become contaminated; change regularly. 

Common cat poisons:

The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) is a specialist 24-hour emergency service which provides information and advice to veterinary professionals and animal welfare organisations on the treatment of animals exposed to toxic substances.

Some of the most common, potentially severe cat poisons reported to the VPIS are:

  • Paracetamol
  • Lilies (Lilium spp)
  • Ethylene glycol - the active ingredient in Antifreeze
  • Spot-on flea treatments for dogs - many contain Permethrin; poisonous to cats
  • Metaldehyde - in slug/snail baits/pellets
  • Decorating materials - e.g. paints, varnishes, preservatives, paint and glass cleaners can contain petroleum distillates; harmful to cats

For more information about harmful substances speak to your vet.

Further information:

International Cat Care's website

Antifreeze poisoning.

Rock salt poisoning in pets (pdf 101KB)

Veterinary poisons information service logo

Acknowledgement for this information is made to the VPIS. The VPIS is not a public access service. However some helpful information is available on their website.

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