This has been specifically written for cats and their owners, a lot of the information will apply to dogs and their owners as well.  If your cat is special to you, is a pedigree cat, or has unusual or special markings please, get it chipped. In Portugal this will cost between twenty-five and fifty euros and can be done by most vets.  These cats have a high risk of being stolen.

Spay or neuter your cat if possible — this means they will wander less and will not attract wild males when they come in season.  In Portugal this costs around sixty euros for a male and one hundred and twenty five euros for a female. Some vets will offer discount for more than one animal.

In cities the second biggest risk to your cat is the motor vehicle.  Cats always come off worst and accidents with traffic are nearly always fatal.

The third biggest risk is poisoning.   Three main sources of poisoning in cities are eating vermin that have been poisoned, drinking water polluted by petrol or diesel or swallowing household chemicals.

Signs to look for a possible poisoning include excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, twitching, nervousness, convulsions, coma, and a smell of a chemical on the body.

If you find your cat in a coma or any of the above — wrap them up in a blanket and take them straight to the vets. In the case of domestic spillage being ingested take any bottles with you.

The following domestic chemicals are all dangerous to cats. Bleach, detergents, dishwasher powder, the water that is emptied from the dishwasher — take note if your dishwasher empties into a sink, drain cleaner, grease remover, oven cleaner, toilet cleaners — put the lid down, floor wax, furniture polish and shoe polish.

If you smell any of the above on your cat, first rinse out their mouths and then give the cat a bath in warm soapy water.  Once you have done this watch for signs of vomiting — if the cat vomits take to vets immediately.

Keep your alcohol, nuts, raisins and your chocolate to yourself — these all poisonous to cats.

The following indoor/cut plants/flowers are poisonous to cats. Aloe Vera, Amaryllis, Avocado, Azalea, Bird of paradise, Calla lily, Chrysanthemum, Cyclamen, Daffodil, Day Lily, Dieffenbachia, Easter lily, Gladiolus, Hyacinth, Iris, Marijuana, Philodendron, Tomato plants, Tulips and Yucca.

The following outdoor plants are poisonous to cats all of the above plus Apricot, Black-eyed Susan, Box, Chrysanthemum, English ivy, Holly, Hydrangea, Mistletoe, Narcissus, Rhododendron and Yew.

If you need a more comprehensive list please check here.

The rural cat owner has to add natural predators to the danger list.

In Portugal these can include roaming dogs, birds of prey, mongoose, wild boar and foxes.

You also have to watch for amphibians especially during the breeding season in spring. Some of the frogs and most of the toads are poisonous to cats — the toads especially so as they secrete poison when under attack. This poison covers their skin and can also be squirted at the eyes of the attacking animal i.e. the cat does not have to eat the frog or toad, just brushing against it can cause poisoning.

Remember cats are curious animals and sadly curiosity can kill the cat.  Be responsible with your medicines, your food, your cleaning products, your garage and your garden.

19 Comments

  1. Thank you for this fantastic article, Nicola. We will soon again have a cat among us and this will surely be good to reread and reread for the advice! 🙂

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  2. Perfectly written, Nicola, and I appreciate all your warnings for cats and all domesticated animals.

    Anti-freeze is a big danger here in the USA. It tends to leak out of cars and it has a sweet taste, so cats are inexplicably drawn to drink it. Once they swallow the anti-freeze it is almost always fatal.

    Our vet told us everything outside is meaner and bigger than a cat — and a deadly threat. Keep them inside where they will always be safe!

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    1. Thank you for adding Anti-freeze to the list ……………. I guess it was not very pertinent in Portugal and did not come up in my research.

      Your vet is 85% right ……………. it depends on what you keep inside with the cat. Pollen from Lilies is a real danger and is being highlighted everywhere. I was astounded that chocolate can poison them as well – having had one cat in the past who loved drinking chocolate and who also used to sneak bits of chocolate cake when they thought we were not looking. They lived until they were 14.

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  3. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which affects the heart and nervous system and acts as a diuretic causing the cat to lose fluids – if you see your cat eating chocolate you are supposed to make them sick – if you cannot – take them to the vets.

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  4. Nicola —

    I wonder if mushrooms are deadly? We would often have mushrooms on our pizza and Jack The Cat would GO CRAZY for them and steal them and eat them all if we weren’t careful. He always won the day, though, and we had to take to closing the door to bar him from stealing the mushrooms — he was that sneaky and good!

    10 minutes later though, all the mushrooms would all be vomited back up on the floor, undigested, and making a total mess. It was odd he craved them so, but could not tolerate them.

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  5. Very good points Nicola. For me personally, I have always kept my cats indoors (plus getting them speed/neutered and microchipped) but I know how hard this can be especially in a rural area as cats do love to explore the outdoors. Unfortunately it happens that even indoor cats will slip out – I had a cat get out soon after we moved into our house in December 2011, just a day before a terrible ice storm. I never found her. She was microchipped, but in this case, it didn’t help.

    Thanks for putting this out there. 🙂

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    1. I lost one like that in the past – we had just moved too – and were keeping her in as it was a new area and had more traffic …………… she made a dash for it just before it started snowing …………….. we did find her body though a week later – she had curled up under some bushes after making herself a nest to try and keep herself warm.

      We may be moving to a new rented house soon – which I think will solve some of our problems but not all of them.

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      1. Oh that just breaks my heart. We searched for Rucca, I sent out a message to neighbors on our housing division email group – I just thought of her trying to stay warm and it makes me sad to this day. We never found her, so I still have hope that someone may have taken her in and she is in a nice new home.

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  6. Thanks for this advice! I don’t have a cat myself, but my college campus has plenty of stray cats who wander around. While they entertain the students, I often wonder about their health and safety in such a setting, especially considering how we are located on both sides of a high-traffic turnpike.

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