Today we have yet another example of why you should never acquire your feline facts from random social media users. USA Today reports on a rumor, spreading virally online, that Amazon sprays its boxes with toxic pesticides harmful to cats.
The social media post included a series of disturbing images, certainly meant to frighten, which often stimulates rapid sharing without research. In this case, social media users shared the post more than 300,000 times within a week’s time.
Since USA Today posted a piece in 2020 about turning Amazon boxes into cat condos, they decided to investigate. Their conclusion, matching that of Snopes and Lead Stories, is that the claim is completely false.
A False Social Media Claim, Debunked
Social media misinformation has become sadly common, but sometimes the source seems reliable. In this particular case, a Facebook user was sharing what appears to be a PSA from a feline rescue.
In the post, the image reads, “Amazon sprays ALL boxes with Toxic Pesticides to kill wearhouse (sic) rodents. If your cats play in Amazon boxes they will be exposed and may experience chemical burns to the tongue. Other symptoms include fever, lethargic movement, shallow breathing, and sticky salivation.”
Amazon Does Not Spray Boxes With Toxic Pesticides
— snopes.com (@snopes) January 16, 2021
Your feline companions are safe from those evil Amazon boxes, so fear not.
In fact, Snopes and Lead Stories debunked this theory back in December of 2020, but somehow these things always seem to recirculate.
Richard Rocha, Amazon’s Senior Public Relations Manager, reiterated to USA Today that the company does not treat its boxes with anything harmful to cats. The boxes are made of “wood pulp and wood pulp binders,” as is common with box manufacturers.
Zero evidence was found that the box manufacturers are making a menace of boxes, either.
“Our facilities are treated for pest control in accordance with the food safety certifications we hold, but that treatment would not be applied to boxes,” said Brooke Lujano, Senior Communications Manager at Georgia-Pacific, a popular North American supplier of the kind of corrugated packaging used by Amazon.
But What Do the Veterinarians Say?
Vets concur. When interviewed by USA Today, veterinarians said they aren’t aware of any reports where cats have become ill from Amazon boxes.
“I am not aware of this issue, have never seen this in clinical practice, or heard of it from other emergency veterinarians,” said Ann Marie Zollo, Staff Criticalist at New York City’s Animal Medical Center.
“There are many possible causes of oral ulceration in cats, and if your cat develops oral ulcers or injuries, it is very important to work with your veterinarian to determine the underlying reason.”
Finding the real reason for such injuries, as Zollo said, is what’s really important — not subscribing to social media propaganda that distracts from real issues.
You can also find a full list of USA Today’s fact-check sources at the bottom of their report here.
In the meantime, feel free to let your cat have fun with your Amazon boxes. Did you know boxes can actually reduce stress and aid recovery for cats? You can read about the study here!
Did you see this rumor flying around about toxic pesticides on Amazon Boxes? Why do you think people believed it? Let us know in the comments below.