Helping Guide Bengal Cat Owners

Keep Your Furry Friend Safe: Common Household Items Toxic to Cats

There could be a secret killer in your house and you don’t even know it. You may think it harmless but these household items toxic to cats could be on your shelves.

Toxic items for your cats include cleaning products, essential oils, topical creams, Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs, and lily plants.

To keep your cat safe from household items toxic to its health, you’ll have to be mindful of what to buy and what to avoid. We’re going to cover what these items are and what specific chemicals make them harmful.

What Common Household Items Toxic to Cats Should You Avoid?

We have compiled a list of household items toxic to cats that you should use carefully or preferably not use at all.

Cleaning Products

We’re talking about every cleaning products that are used for the kitchen, the toilet, the carpet, and anything around the house. Be wary of products containing high amounts of ammonia, chlorine, and phenol. Phenol contains antiseptic properties used for cleaning and is used by many brands.

You’d be surprised to know that some DIY cleaners you create aren’t good for your cats. ASPCA warns owners that a solution of water and vinegar can be bad for your feline when ingested. Vinegar is an acidic liquid that acts as an irritant, causing vomiting and diarrhea.

Read: Do Cats See Humans as Cats? An Exploration of Feline Cognition

Essential Oils

Most essential oils are dangerous for cats due to compounds found in them such as high concentrations of phenol and salicylates. VCA Hospitals explains that cats are particularly sensitive to essentials because of a decreased number of certain liver enzymes necessary to effectively metabolize these oils.

Signs of it poisoning your feline include difficulty breathing, pawing at the face or mouth, redness on the lips or skin, the fragrance of the essential oil coming strongly from the cat’s fur coat, breath, and vomit. It’s toxic when ingested and inhaled for a long time.

Iowa Veterinary Wellness Center recommends these essential oils instead: copaiba, frankincense, helichrysum, and lavender. Make sure to dilute it and don’t confine your cat in the room with the container.

Read: Why Do Cats Age So Fast? Explaining the Rapid Aging of Cats

Nsaids Found in Creams/Ointments and Human Medication

Topical ointments only meant for the skin are dangerous for your cats to lick, even the ones recommended for your felines. ASPCA warns that they may contain ingredients known as NSAIDs or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as flurbiprofen and diclofenac.

NSAD medications can cause kidney damage, stomach ulcers, and brain damage to your cat. According to PetMD, these are highly toxic given the relatively large milligram size of human products compared to the relatively small size of cats. In an attempt of making your cat feel better, you might be endangering them by using human medication.

Lily Plants

Very harmless to you and they’re very beautiful when placed around your home. The pollen of lilies can irritate your cats when it comes to contact with the skin.

Lily plants contain calcium oxalate crystals. When a cat chews or bites into the leaves or stems, the crystals clump up in the urinary bladder and become stones.

The FDA states that the entire lily plant is toxic including the stem, leaves, flowers, and the water in its vase. Eating a small amount of any part of the plant can cause fatal kidney failure in your cat. FDA listed the following as highly toxic lily plants: Asiatic Lily, Daylily, Easter Lily, Japanese Show Lily, And Oriental Lily.

Do you have any of the above in your house?

Read: Why Do Cats Fight at Night?

What Foods Are Harmful to Cats?

It would make it easier for us to just feed our cats anything we eat but we have to deny them some of our life’s pleasures.

  • Chocolate and caffeinated drinks. Theobromine is what makes chocolate toxic to your cat and caffeine in drinks such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks. MerckVetManual states that theobromine and caffeine competitively inhibit cellular adenosine receptors that can result in tachycardia (heart rate over 100 beats per minute) and diuresis (increased production of urine).
  • Dairy products. Like humans, cats can become lactose intolerant because their bodies can’t produce lactase, the enzyme that breaks down lactose found in milk.
  • Onions, garlic, and plants of the Allium genus. A small amount of garlics and onions doesn’t have much effect but feeding food with lots of it to your cat will upset the stomach. Onions belong to the lily family, Amaryllidaceae, and to the genus Allium, which you know is toxic for cats. Other foods belonging to this genus are chive, leek, scallions, and shallots, which are all deemed unsafe.
  • Grapes. Grapes and even in its other form, raisins, aren’t good for felines in large quantities. It is recommended to avoid it instead of taking the risk. It’s hard to pinpoint the culprit within a grape why it causes kidney problems for cats but the effects are shown to be harmful.
  • Fat trimmings. Foods high in fat are toxic to felines in general, including seeds and nuts. Fat trimmings from meat and bones cause intestinal upset that can result in vomiting, diarrhea, and pancreatitis.

Read: Why Do Cats Arch Their Back When They’re Scared or Anxious? Here’s the Explanation

Is Lysol Safe for Cats?

Lysol is not only very dangerous to cats, but it’s also dangerous to all pets due to the presence of one of its ingredients, phenol. This organic compound is used as a disinfectant in many cleaning products that you may have used a lot in your house.

When it is ingested or inhaled, cats cannot process the compound in their body to get rid of the toxin. This can cause liver problems and eventually death. Immediately seek a veterinarian and don’t wait for symptoms to appear or it may be too late.

Is Clorox Safe for Cats?

Clorox sells bleach products that are poisonous to cats. Dr. Lynn Hovda of the Pet Poison Helpline explains, “It all depends on the type of bleach the pet is exposed to… The majority of cases are regular household bleach, which is an irritant but not a corrosive agent.”

It is recommended to dilute bleach products such as Clorox when cleaning around pets. You may think your cat knows better than to lick or even drink bleach because of its strong smell of ammonia but your cat could walk all over it and later on lick its paws.

What Chemicals Are Bad for Cats?

Chlorine and ammonia are toxic to cats. Ammonia burns when ingested and even the smell of it is harsh. It’s also found in cat urine which explains why your cat doesn’t want to pee in the litter box again.

Chlorine, on the other hand, is found in many cleaning products and irritates the airway. A combination of chlorine and ammonia is very toxic even to you.

Read: Why Do Cats like to Watch Running Water?

What Cleaning Products Are Safe for Cats?

We compiled a small list of pet-safe cleaning products for your furry friend!

Safe ingredients for your DIY solutions:

  • Baking soda
  • Lemon juice
  • White vinegar

What Essential Oils Are Safe for Cats?

Iowa Veterinary Wellness Center has recommended these: copaiba, frankincense, helichrysum, and lavender. We have more suggestions for you! Keep in mind that although these are deemed “safe”, they still are toxic in high concentration and long exposure to cats.

  • Cinnamon
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender
  • Lemon and lime
  • Lemongrass
  • Mint
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Sandalwood
  • Thyme


Keeping your furry friend safe from outside elements may not be all that enough. There are household items toxic to cats that you could have bought. Be mindful of using cleaning products, essential oils, and lily plants. Store your ointments and medicines properly, out of your cat’s reach.

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