Are Your Lawn Care Products Harming Your Cat?

If there is one thing that cats are known for, it is their tendency to prowl around the neighborhood. Whether outdoor or indoor, cats keep a close eye on everything going on in their territory. Unfortunately for our feline friends, an unseen predator lurks in the grass, bushes, and shoes of neighborhoods all across the country: the toxic chemicals that many Americans spray on their grass.

Owners of outdoor cats quickly come to accept the fact that they don’t know where their cat goes for much of its day. A cat faces many threats on its regular walks, from cars to coyotes, but the threat of yard chemicals is one that it’s not prepared for. The threat is real, and even indoor cats are at risk for contamination.

Pesticides, lawn fertilizers, and all of the many chemical products that get soaked into every blade of grass are a major risk factor to cats everywhere, with side effects that have been demonstrated to gravely impact their health. For this reason, it’s important to keep a close eye on whether or not one’s neighbors spray chemicals, to take safety precautions when you enter the house —and most importantly, to know whether or not that brand name stuff that you’re dousing your front lawn with is responsible for making your cat sick.

The Impact of Pesticides On Cats

Lawn fertilizers and pesticides are poisonous to cats, and a cat that spends the majority of its time outdoors is at high risk of coming into contact with these toxic substances. Even if a cat doesn’t go around nibbling on plants in the neighborhood, it’s likely to step in a fertilized lawn, and get the toxin on its paws or fur. The chemicals will then rub off against anything the cat touches, and potentially be ingested at some later point during its grooming procedures.

If the cat takes in enough of these substances, the first symptoms will begin to show. The Pet Poison Helpline says to watch for drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, bowel obstructions, muddy-colored gums, trouble breathing, or an abnormal posture caused by severe abdominal pain.

Repeated contact with these toxins will cause the cat to experience even more serious side effects. Chronic or sub-chronic exposure to herbicides such as 2,4-D have been shown to damage the eyes, thyroids, kidneys, ovaries and testes of small animals. There has been found to be a modest association between the use of 2,4-D and the development of malignant lymphoma in dogs. Damage to the cat’s GI tract, liver, and muscles are also possible.

Even Indoor Cats Are at Risk

However, just keeping your cat indoors at all time isn’t the solution, as even such seemingly obvious precautions won’t remove the possibility of the cat getting affected. In fact, many indoor cats become contaminated because of their owners. You could very easily be the cause of toxic chemical exposure, as lawn fertilizers and pesticides will cling to a person’s shoes, and then be carried around with them.

When you walk inside and kick your shoes off, the chemicals follow. This results in air contamination, which then leads to surface contamination. After repeated exposure to these chemicals, over and over again over a long period of time, the cat runs a high risk of becoming dangerously contaminated, even if it has never stepped foot outside.

Similarly, if you have dogs that roll around in the grass, children that play outside, or guests walking across the lawn and then stepping inside, any of them can (and will) track in dangerous pesticides without realizing it, thereby risking the safety of your cat’s health.

How to Save Your Cat

There’s only so much a worried cat owner can do, but the battle begins in your own lawn. While you can’t control what other people spray their lawns with, you can maintain your property using only organic and natural lawn care alternatives, of which there are plenty. Using compost, taking care to water correctly, and leaving the clippings — in addition to the most important step of using a natural fertilizer, instead of a chemical one — will leave your lawn looking fresh and beautiful.

Remember, those perfect green lawns that your neighbor shows off may look nice, and using chemical fertilizers is certainly less work than going the natural way, but the extra few steps it takes to have a natural lawn is certainly worth the pain, considering the irreversible damage that toxic chemical fertilizers can do to your cat.


Other than taking care of your lawn in a more natural fashion, another way to be proactive about your cat’s health is to keep your cat inside during the season where fertilizer use is most prevalent. You can also discuss natural lawn solutions with your neighbors, and offer them an explanation of the dangerous side-effects, of which they might not even be aware.

On the home front, protecting your cat means keeping its health in mind. When you or guests come in, kick your shoes off outside the door, and avoid tracking in dangerous toxins. If you have a dog, then keeping your own lawn toxin-free will minimize the amount of pesticides that the dog could track in. Canines aren’t as prone to long distance wandering as their feline cousins, so they’re less likely to be walking on lawns all across the neighborhood. That said, if you’re spraying pesticides on the lawn, it will impact the dog’s health as well.

The risk of your cat being dangerously affected by toxic lawn fertilizer or pesticides might seem like a joke, but it’s all too real. It’s important to take action before serious damage can come to the cat. These substances are highly poisonous to cats, especially after years of exposure, and can cause serious long-term damage. Cats will always be known for their prowling tendencies and their clean grooming habits, but with a little extra care, you can ensure that your favorite pet will come back from every prowl just a little safer.

  • July 14, 2016
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