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Dettol Is Toxic To Cats: Five Important Safety Rules For Cleaning

Dettol is one of the most trusted and widely used cleaning products in the UK, both for cleaning our homes and for basic first aid wound care. But Dettol is actually toxic to cats; and contact with just a very small amount of Dettol is highly poisonous for cats, and could even prove fatal.

Read on to learn five important safety rules for cleaning with Dettol to make sure your cat stays safe.

What makes Dettol toxic to cats?

The active ingredient in Dettol and the thing that makes it an effective disinfectant and cleaning product is called Chloroxylenol, and this is an antibacterial agent that can be used in different quantities and formulations as both a household cleaner and for first aid or to treat cuts and grazes.

Chloroxylenol is similar in nature to chemicals from the phenolic compound family of cleaners; you will know if you use these in other products, as they turn the water milky when you add it, as Dettol does; this is worth knowing as phenolic compounds and Chloroxylenol are both highly toxic to cats, and can be identified by this trait if you’re not sure.

Chloroxylenol is safe for humans, virtually safe for birds and only slightly harmful to marine life. It doesn’t have a huge impact on dogs, although is should still be used in households with pets with caution; but when it comes to cats, Chloroxylenol is highly toxic, which means in turn that Dettol is toxic to cats. 

If cats ingest Dettol even in very small quantities (such as by licking it off their paws or fur) this could be sufficient to kill them, as cats are unable to eliminate the toxins present in Dettol if they ingest it. Ultimately, this makes Dettol poisonous to cats and very dangerous if they come into contact with it.

Using Dettol to mop a floor

Dettol is commonly used diluted in water to clean hard floors like kitchen tiles or wooden flooring, and if you have a cat you can still use Dettol to mop your floors with if you follow a few rules and use it with extreme care.

When the floor is wet (or when the Dettol is in water) if your cat walks across it or otherwise comes into contact with it and then licks their paws, which is inevitable, this can result in the ingestion of enough Dettol to make them very sick or even potentially kill them.

Close your cat out of the room you’re planning to use Dettol on the floor of, and after you have mopped, tip the dirty water with Dettol in it away safely in such a way that avoids splashes that the area and floor around the sink won’t be left wet.

Don’t let your cat back into the room you’ve cleaned until the floor is thoroughly dry.

Using Dettol disinfectant spray

Dettol disinfectant spray is designed for use on hard surfaces, and when you use it in this way (such as to clean kitchen counters or the tops of your tables) take the same precautions as you do when mopping.

If you’re seeking a cleaning product to use on kitchen counters specifically because your cat tends to get onto them and you want to disinfect before preparing food, consider using another product to reduce the risk of your cat jumping up and getting Dettol on their paws.

If you do use Dettol disinfectant spray on surfaces, keep the cat out of the room while you do this and wait for it to dry before permitting the cat back in.

Don’t use Dettol disinfectant sprays on fabrics, or on anything that is likely to come into contact with your cat’s paws or fur.

Never use Dettol to clean wounds on cats

If your cat has come in with a minor scrape or cut that doesn’t require a trip to the vet but that you intend to monitor, you might want to clean it to remove any surface debris. However, you should only use water or a weak saltwater solution, or an antiseptic product that is safe for cats, and not just assume that the same products you might have in your first aid kit to use on the family will be ok for cats too.

Never use Dettol to clean wounds on cats; and it is a good idea to mark the bottle if you keep Dettol antiseptic at home to indicate that it is dangerous to cats, in case you forget or someone else you live with goes to use it down the line.

Store all cleaning products safely out of reach of your cat

It is good practice to make sure that all of your cleaning products in general are stored securely and safely away from and out of reach of both pets and children, and Dettol is no exception.

Check all lids and seals before you put such products away, and always be vigilant about spills and leaks.

Always read warning labels and follow proper usage protocols

You should always read the instructions and warning labels before you use any product on your cat or in your home, as many things that are totally harmless to people can be very dangerous to certain pets.


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