What is benzalkonium chloride?

Many household disinfectants, such as antibacterial sprays and some patio cleaners, contain a compound called benzalkonium chloride which is a cationic detergent. Cationic detergents are irritant and can cause adverse eff ects in cats that have licked or walked over treated surfaces. Disinfectants can be harmful to cats and so should be used sensibly and only when necessary.

What are the signs of benzalkonium chloride poisoning?

Signs of benzalkonium chloride exposure often do not occur immediately and can be delayed by several hours. Signs of benzalkonium chloride exposure include:
• Drooling
• A red and inflamed tongue with
a painful mouth
• High body temperature
• Reduced appetite and/or drinking
• Redness and irritation of the skin
• Coughing and breathing difficulties

What to do if your cat has been in contact with benzalkonium chloride

• If your cat has been exposed to a product containing benzalkonium chloride – contact Animal PoisonLine immediately who will advise you if you need to visit the vet.
• If exposure was recent, wash the product off the skin and fur to prevent further ingestion.
• If you do need to take your cat to the vet treatment may include one or more of the following:
– Pain relief
– Drugs to control drooling
– Intravenous fluids
– Syringe feeding

• Call Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509000 even if your pet is showing no signs to find out whether a trip to the vet is required.
• Remove your pet from the source of poison.
• Do not try to make your pet vomit – NEVER give salt water.
• Collect the poison and take a sample/ container with you if you are advised to take your pet to the vet practice.