Pesticides and Your Cat

Gardening season is officially here! With the onset of gardening season, people may be trying to improve their lawns or plants in a variety of ways. Many people use pesticides to rid their yard of weeds, improve the look of their lawn or rid their plants of bugs.

What Are Pesticides? Why Should You Care?

Pesticides exist to kill bugs, weeds and other plants, as well as pests or diseases that grow on plants.  Pesticides can come in numerous forms, such as insecticides, herbicides and fungicides.

While pesticide usage can be beneficial for your plants or crops, it can pose a disastrous threat to your pets. An accident between pets and pesticides can be extremely serious, risking a fatality or long-term health issues. 

Pesticide Exposure and Your Cat

Just because you don’t use pesticides yourself doesn’t mean your pet is not at risk! There are numerous ways that pesticides can affect a cat beyond ingesting them. Pesticides can be picked up through a neighbour’s yard, or through foot traffic from schools, fields and anywhere else with plants or crops. This is yet another reason why MEOW has an indoors-only policy for adopters; while you can control what goes on your own property, you don’t know what products other people are using in their gardens.

If you employ a lawn service, make sure to let them know you have pets in the household and request that they do not use pesticides on your property.

Pesticides – whether they’re for garden, lawn or agriultural use – have varying degrees of toxicity to your cat. Some are harmful if touched, others are harmful only if ingested, and still others are harmful with continued exposure, even if that exposure is low. Be sure to read the label of any product you’re using in your yard (or anywhere in your home!) and consult your vet if you’re unsure about the safety of a certain product or ingredient.

What Does Exposure to Pesticides Look Like?

There are numerous symptoms that cats can display while being affected by pesticides. They can include:

    • Drooling
    • Seizures
    • Muscle twitches 
    • Vomiting
    • Unsteady gait or stiffness
    • Breathing difficulties
    • Weakness

If you believe that your pet might be experiencing the symptoms of exposure to pesticides or discover that your cat has ingested something potentially harmful, immediately bring them to a veterinarian or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Centre.

Are Any Pesticides Safe?

There are some organic products that can improve your garden, lawn or other plants without posing a risk to your cat. Consult your veterinarian if you’re unsure about whether a product is safe.