Sniffing, licking, head shaking and chewing often followed by behavioral alteration including body, chin or cheek rubbing is a common response by most domestic and some wild cats when they are exposed nepetalactone essential oil (catnip essential oil).
If you are new this behavior alteration in felines, note that it is not just the menthol smell from catnip that excites them. These pets are also attracted to chloride-based products odor including bleach (sodium hypochlorite such as Clorox), pool chlorine, and chloride salts.
Their typical behavior includes purring, drooling, sniffing, rolling over, rubbing against objects that have the chlorine scent be it shoes, mops, your hand, carpet, laundry, wet swimsuits, wet hair, and so on.
Why do cats love chloride-based products?
The possible explanation as to why these animals like chlorine may be linked to the fact that cats have a stronger sense of smell when compared to human and it could be associated with their pheromones that often alter not only their behavior but also physiology.
Like in the case of catnips or valerian root extract, the chloride smell may mimic their sex pheromones and thus causing this a little crazy behavior.
Chlorine and bleach toxicity
Whereas chloride-based products including bleach do alter the behavior of most cats, it is important to talk about the safety of such products and detergents.
Are they safe? The answer is no. They are not safe. Ingesting products such as bleach is harmful to both cats and dogs depending on the type and concentration. Common household bleaches can be irritating to these pets and they may cause a mild to no corrosion.
However, concentrated brands used on farms and by professional cleaning services can cause poisoning characterized by more serious symptoms that require emergency treatment.
Some of the clinical signs of bleach poisoning in cats when ingested include vomiting, sore throat, drooling and abdominal pain.
However, if this pet ingests fumes, expect chocking signaled by “coughing, difficulty breathing, or retching,” notes PetCoach.
Also, there might be redness around their mouth and abnormal behavior.
Finally, dermal exposure may cause skin burns or damage characterized by the presence of skin lesions, skin redness, and irritation.
In case of such toxicity, give your cat some water or milk and rinse the affected area including skin and eyes. Afterward, call for emergency help from your vet if your pet ingested or was exposed to concentrated bleach.