are moth balls toxic to cats

Be careful though if you are using mothballs with cats in the house. Many mothballs and flakes contain naphthalene which is dangerous to cats. A little sniff or lick might cause mild self-limiting signs such as nausea, vomiting and respiratory irritation. However, ingestion may lead to severe poisoning.

Testing and diagnosis

If exposure is known, the diagnosis is self-evident. Whether or not exposure is proven, cats exhibiting toxicosis symptoms usually go through standard diagnostic testing:

  • Physical examination
  • Blood work
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Urinalysis

A closer look: Mothball Poisoning in Cats

The dosage, amount of time since exposure, and mode of exposure all affect how severe the symptoms are. The precise amount of each insecticide that is toxic to cats is unknown. Because cats are more susceptible than dogs to mothball toxicity, even small amounts necessitate immediate veterinary attention.

Cases of cats ingesting mothballs are rare. When mothballs are consumed, the symptoms can take several days to manifest, but they are more severe than when they are exposed to the skin or inhaled fumes. The symptoms of mothballs in the gastrointestinal tract don’t appear for several days until a toxic dose enters the bloodstream. If there are no symptoms right after consumption, the exposure was not below toxic thresholds. Delaying treatment has a detrimental effect on the outcome and raises the possibility of long-term exposure resulting in kidney and liver damage.

There were only 158 cases of cat mothball toxicosis reported to the APCC between 2002 and 2004. Even after a cat consumes just one mothball, mothball toxicosis has the potential to be fatal. For a successful outcome, emergency medical attention for decontamination is essential. It is not safe or effective to try to make cats throw up in the house. Providing fresh air and taking a bath are part of first aid for inhalation and contact exposure. Once exposure has taken place, product packaging, labels, and mothball samples can be used to determine the active ingredient in the clinic.

Mothballs contain pesticides which are toxic to cats. Mothball toxicosis is the result of ingesting, coming into contact with the skin, or breathing in a toxic dose. Mothballs primarily contain three types of pesticides: camphor, naphthalene, and p-dichlorobenzene. Since p-dichlorobenzene is safer than its precursor naphthalene, it is the most widely available mothball type in North America.

Regardless of the moth repellent’s form—mothballs, cakes, flakes, or powders—this condition results.

Depending on which of the three pesticides is the active ingredient in the moth repellent, the symptoms of mothball toxicosis differ in each case.

Steps to Recovery

Treatment varies depending on the dose and route of exposure. Strategies include:

  • Decontamination (induction of vomiting, bathing, etc.)
  • Supplemental oxygen
  • IV fluids
  • Medication administration to control vomiting
  • Anti-seizure medication

Since there isn’t a specific remedy for these pesticides, supportive care aims to stop additional harm and lessen the compound’s effects on the body as a whole.

The overall health of the pet, the dosage, the kind of exposure, and the interval between exposure and treatment all affect how the treatment turns out. Both naphthalene and p-dichlorobenzene cause kidney and liver damage. The risk is lower with exposure to p-dichlorobenzene. Kidney and liver damage can be permanent. Cirrhosis, another name for liver damage, calls for ongoing observation and potentially even surgery to remove scar tissue.

Naphthalene can cause cataracts. Treatment is not usually advised for cataracts caused by exposure to toxic compounds, even though they are permanent.

Mothball toxicity is a result of being around mothballs; it is not communicable. Mothball poisoning can be entirely avoided by managing pests with non-toxic alternatives. The best ways to avoid exposing cats to moth balls are to make sure the manufacturer’s instructions are followed and to limit their use to completely sealed containers kept out of reach of pets.


Can the smell of mothballs harm cats?

Mothballs contain a high concentration of insect repellent. Poisoning most commonly occurs when cats or dogs ingest mothballs. Cats are more sensitive to their toxic effects, but dogs are more likely to ingest mothballs due to their curious nature. Long-term exposure to mothball fumes can also harm pets and people.

Will mothballs get rid of cats?

Dangerous Deterrents Placing mothballs around plants, an old method of keeping cats and rabbits at bay, might be effective, but they are toxic to humans and animals and should never be used in the garden.

What kind of animals do mothballs keep away?

4. Mothballs sometimes are used illegally to repel pests not listed on labels. Some of these “off-label pests” include: squirrels, skunks, deer, mice, rats, and snakes, among others animals. Use mothballs pesticide products to control the pests listed on the label only!

Are mothballs toxic to breathe?

The chemicals in mothballs are toxic to humans and pets. People are exposed to the chemicals in mothballs by inhaling the fumes. If you smell mothballs, you are being exposed to these chemicals. Children or pets sometimes mistake mothballs for food or candy and eat them, which can cause serious effects.