DISINFECTANTS AND CATS

Disinfectants and Cats

DISINFECTANTS AND CATS

Disinfectants and Cats

The Animal Poisons Helpline is frequently contacted about animals that have ingested or otherwise come into contact with disinfectants. Disinfectants are chemicals that are used to kill microorganisms on surfaces and can be found in various domestic formulations including liquids, sprays, wipes and aerosols. Whilst many common cleaning products contain mild detergents, disinfectants often contain substances such as benzalkonium chloride or other quaternary ammonium compounds. Similar chemicals can sometimes be found in disinfecting laundry rinses and moss killers. Cats are very sensitive to these substances and toxicity can occur in this species following relatively small exposures.

Cats that come into contact with these products often develop ulceration of their mouth and throat. This can be very painful and affected cats will typically refuse to eat, develop significant drooling and appear lethargic. These signs of poisoning are often delayed by many hours, sometimes making a causal link difficult to establish. Cases of poisoning in cats have been reported through both direct ingestion of these products and after grooming chemical residue off the coat and paws.

If you are a cat owner, please check the active constituents or your household disinfectants and wipes. If using products that contain benzalkonium chloride or other quaternary ammonium compounds (also known as ‘QACs’), don’t allow your cat to access areas of application until the areas are thoroughly dry. Cleaning products should always be stored out of reach of pets, keeping in mind that cats are able to get up onto high surfaces and knock products over.

The Animal Poisons Helpline provides free advice to pet owners in Australia and New Zealand and can be reached on 1300 869 738 (AU) or 0800 869 738 (NZ). If you don’t already follow the Animal Poisons Helpline Facebook page, follow now to receive live animal poisons alerts and updates. If you are a member of a veterinary team in Australia or New Zealand, you can join the Animal Poisons Centre For Vets Facebook group which is regularly updated with toxicology tidbits and poisoning trends. We thank the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development for supporting this post.