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Be prepared! Keep phone numbers posted in your home and in your cell phone for your veterinarian and emergency veterinary clinic.

Animal Poison Control Center - 888-4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435) - Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Always check with your veterinarian should your cat come into contact with any of the following before administering any type of treatment.

Top 10 Cat Poisons

1. Medications for people. Pets have a much greater sensitivity to many of the common over-the-counter and prescription medications that may be in your home.

Some of the medications that often poison cats include:

- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. The most common cause of pet poisoning, these painkillers can cause ulcers in the stomach and intestines, and kidney damage.

- Acetaminophen is particularly toxic to cats, resulting in red blood cell damage. Just two extra-strength tablets may prove fatal to felines.

- Antidepressants, which may cause vomiting and, in more serious instances, serotonin syndrome -- a dangerous condition that raises temperature, heart rate and blood pressure, and may cause seizures.

- Methylphenidate, an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drug, which is a stimulant for pets, raising heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature.

2. Flea and tick products. Poisoning can occur by ingestion of a topical product or overzealous application. In addition, certain flea control products manufactured for dogs can be lethal if used on cats.

3. People food. It is important to take care that your cat doesn't ingest foods that might cause pet poisoning or stomach upset. Foods to keep away from your cat include:

- Chocolate. Experts don't recommend giving chocolate, caffeine or coffee to your cat.

- Onions, garlic, chives. These plant foods can irritate the stomach and damage red blood cells.

4. Rat and mouse poison. Rodenticides, if ingested, can cause severe symptoms and may be fatal.

5. Pet medications. Just as we can be sickened or killed by medications intended to help us, cases of pet poisoning by veterinary drugs are not uncommon. Some of the more commonly reported problem medications include painkillers and dewormers.

6. Household plants*. Cats are notorious for noshing on houseplants, and the habit isn't just bad for your potted treasures. Many common, beautiful houseplants contain cat poisons that can cause serious harm and even death. Some of the plants toxic to cats include:

- Lilies. Ingesting even small amounts of Easter lilies and related plants can cause severe kidney failure in cats.

- Azaleas and rhododendrons. These pretty flowering plants contain toxins that may result in vomiting, diarrhea, coma and sometimes even death.

- Tulips and daffodils. The bulbs of these plants, if ingested, may cause serious stomach problems, convulsions and damage to the heart.

- Sago palms. Eating just a few seeds may be enough to cause vomiting, seizures and liver failure.

- Heliotrope. Ingestion can cause liver destruction and eventually liver failure.

* These are just some of the plants that are poisonous but not all are listed.

7. Chemical hazards. Not surprisingly, chemicals contained in antifreeze and paint thinner, and chemicals for pools can act as cat poisons. The symptoms they may produce include stomach upset, depression and chemical burns.

8. Household cleaners. Just as cleaners like bleach can poison people, they are also a leading cause of pet poisoning, resulting in stomach and respiratory tract problems.

9. Heavy metals. Lead, which can be found in paint, linoleum and batteries, can be poisonous if eaten by your cat. If ingested, lead can cause gastrointestinal and neurological problems.

10. Fertilizer. Products for your lawn and garden may be poisonous to animals that ingest them, perhaps by grooming themselves after walking or laying in a recently treated area.

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