are millipedes poisonous to cats

Cats are known for their curious nature. They are often seen exploring their surroundings with a keen sense of adventure. As responsible pet owners, it is natural to be concerned about potential hazards in the environment that could harm our feline friends. 

One common question that arises regarding the safety of cats is whether millipedes pose a threat to cats or not. 

In this article, we will delve into the question, of whether are millipedes poisonous to cats and understand the risks and how to keep our pets safe.

What are Millipedes?

What are Millipedes

Millipedes are arthropods belonging to the class Diplopoda. They are characterized by their numerous legs and segmented bodies. While they may resemble centipedes, they are distinct in their appearance and behavior. 

Millipedes are often found in damp environments like forests, gardens, and basements, where they feed on decaying plant matter. They play a vital role in ecosystem decomposition and aid in nutrient recycling.

Millipedes’ Defense Mechanism

One of the most well-known characteristics of millipedes is their defensive mechanism.

When threatened or disturbed, millipedes often secrete a liquid from their exoskeletons containing substances like hydrogen cyanide, which gives off a strong, unpleasant odor.

This secretion acts as a deterrent against predators which may also include curious pets like cats.

Are Millipedes Poisonous?

Are Millipedes Poisonous

The term “poisonous” refers to the ability of an organism to produce toxins that can harm other creatures upon contact or ingestion.

Millipedes do possess chemical defenses that secrete a substance containing cyanide compounds when threatened. However, the toxicity levels vary among different species of millipedes, with some being more potent than others.

Risk to Cats – Are Millipedes Poisonous to Cats?

Are millipedes poisonous to cats? While millipedes have chemical defenses, they are generally considered to be of low toxicity to humans and larger animals.

However, when it comes to cats, there is a potential risk if they come into contact with millipedes or ingest them. 

The cyanide compounds present in millipede secretions can cause adverse reactions in cats which lead to symptoms such as drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and in severe cases, difficulty breathing or neurological issues.

Are all millipedes toxic to cats?

Are all millipedes toxic to cats

No, not all millipedes are toxic to cats. While millipedes possess defensive secretions, the level of toxicity can vary between species.

However, in general, millipede secretions are not lethal to cats but may cause mild to moderate irritation if ingested or if they come into contact with a cat’s eyes or skin.

Symptoms of Millipede Exposure in Cats:

Symptoms of Millipede Exposure in Cats

If a cat comes into contact with millipede secretions, several symptoms may manifest which may include:

  • Excessive Drooling: 

Cats may exhibit increased drooling as a response to the unpleasant taste or odor of millipede secretions.

  • Vomiting and Diarrhea: 

Ingesting millipede secretions may lead to gastrointestinal upset, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea.

  • Skin Irritation: 

Direct contact with millipede secretions can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some cats.

  • Respiratory Distress: 

Cats may experience respiratory distress if they inhale the strong odor emitted by millipede secretions, especially if they have pre-existing respiratory conditions.

Treatment for Cats for Millipede Exposure

Treatment for Cats for Millipede Exposure

If you suspect that your cat has been exposed to millipedes or is showing symptoms of poisoning, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention immediately. Prompt treatment can help mitigate the effects of toxin exposure and improve your cat’s chances of recovery. 

Your veterinarian may administer supportive care to your cat such as intravenous fluids, activated charcoal to absorb toxins, and medications to manage symptoms.

What to Do If Your Cat Encounters a Millipede?

Are millipedes poisonous to cats? If you suspect that your cat has come into contact with a millipede or its secretions, here are some steps to take:

  • Remove the Source: 

Safely remove the millipede from your cat’s vicinity to prevent further exposure.

  • Cleanse Affected Areas: 

If your cat has secretions on its fur or skin, gently wash the affected areas with mild soap and water to remove any residue.

  • Monitor for Symptoms: 

Keep a close eye on your cat for any signs of distress or unusual behavior. If you notice any concerning symptoms, it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately.

  • Prevent Future Encounters: 

Take measures to prevent your cat from accessing areas where millipedes may be present, such as keeping them indoors or using pet-safe pest control methods in your home and yard.

Prevention Tips

Preventing millipede exposure is key to safeguarding your cat’s health. Here are some preventive measures you can take:

  • Indoor Supervision: 

Keep your cat indoors or supervise outdoor activities to minimize contact with millipedes and other potential hazards.

  • Garden Maintenance: 

Regularly maintain your garden by removing decaying plant matter and debris, which can attract millipedes.

  • Barrier Methods: 

You can also consider using physical barriers or natural repellents to deter millipedes from entering your home or outdoor areas frequented by your cat.

  • Pet-Friendly Pest Control: 

If millipedes are a persistent issue, opt for pet-safe pest control methods recommended by your veterinarian or pet care professional.


Are millipedes poisonous to cats? While millipedes may not pose a significant threat to humans or larger animals, they can potentially harm cats due to their chemical defenses.

Understanding the risks associated with millipede exposure and taking preventive measures are essential for ensuring the well-being of your feline companions. 

By staying informed and implementing proper precautions, you can help keep your cats safe from potential hazards in their environment. If you suspect your cat has been exposed to millipedes or is showing symptoms of poisoning, don’t hesitate to seek veterinary care for prompt treatment and support.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I prevent my cat from encountering millipedes?

Minimize outdoor exposure, keep your cat indoors during peak millipede activity times, and use pet-safe pest control methods. Regularly inspect and clean areas where millipedes might be present.

Q: Can indoor cats be exposed to millipedes?

While indoor cats have a lower risk, millipedes can still find their way inside. Regularly inspect and seal entry points, and consider using pet-safe pest control methods indoors.

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