Most of us have an array of items in our households that help keep things running. Cleaning supplies, various plants, medicines and other items combine to make our lives happier, healthier and easier.
However, if you have a cat, then you need to take some steps to ensure your thinking about their well-being because some day-to-day items can be dangerous for our felines.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the number 1 toxin for pets reported in 2017 was human prescription medications: “Last year, 17.5% (34,888) of APCC cases were attributed to prescription meds. … [P]ain medications, antidepressants and heart medications are the most common medications APCC receives calls about.”
Cats may see a pill on the ground, think it’s a treat and eat it — leading to toxic and often fatal consequences. If you have pets of any kind, be careful with your medication. Never give any pet medication intended for human use without consulting a veterinarian first.
Rodenticides and Insecticides
Rodent and insect infestations are common, especially in rural areas. Though it’s important to protect your home and discourage infestations, you must be careful when it comes to chemicals and poisons.
Being close to the ground, cats can easily step in or consume poisons or chemicals intended for the infesting animal. Rodent poisons often don’t act instantly. A cat can catch an already poisoned mouse, eat some of that mouse and become poisoned themselves.
If you’re using a pest control company for your infestation, explain that you have animals and find out what options are available to prevent poisoning your pets. If you are handling the problem yourself, be sure you understand how to apply your chosen method safely.
People often feed pets the food that they themselves eat, but some foods are toxic for cats. In fact, food was the 3rd most-reported method of poisoning to the ASPCA in 2017, coming in at 10.9% of all reported cases.
Foods that can be toxic to cats include:
- Chocolate, tea and other caffeine-laced beverages
- Grapes and raisins
- Raw garlic and onion
- Raw eggs
- Raw fish or meat
Cats can contract salmonella or e.coli from raw meats just like people, or even toxoplasmosis. Other items can cause a wide range of illnesses, from kidney failure to heart problems.
So the takeaway here is avoid feeding your cat people food, unless it is cleared first by a veterinarian.
When using any type of household cleaner, take a moment to read the labels. We know that it’s not a good idea to breathe in too many bleach or ammonia fumes, or to expose our skin to the cleaners. However, few of us remember to take our pets into account.
For example, I use a bleach-based cleaner for my bathtub, but I have to remember to rinse it out thoroughly before I walk away because my cat likes to get into the bathtub, especially during this time of year, when it’s hot. If the tub isn’t cleaned, he could absorb the bleach through his feet or breathe in the harmful fumes.
When cleaning, put pets in another room until you’ve properly rinsed and ventilated the area. If you have treated toilet water, keep the toilet lid closed to prevent your cat from drinking the water.
And hide those laundry pods, which could appear as a treat or a toy to a cat. Keep these items away from pets to avoid accidental poisoning.
Many cats love string and string-related toys (including rubber bands), but household items like floss, tinsel and thread can be dangerous for cats. If swallowed, string can cause obstructions in your cat’s intestines or stomach, requiring surgery to remove.
“Swallowed string can cause strangulation, and it can also become wrapped around the cat’s intestines,” warns pet product giant Canidae. “[T]he intestines can become blocked, pulled or torn by the string … if the string cuts the intestines it can cause fecal matter to contaminate the abdominal cavity, resulting in a life-threatening inflammation called peritonitis.”
Mini-blinds should also be off-limits to cats. Cats and kittens like to play with the string that dangles so temptingly, but they can strangle or even hang themselves.
Learn more about potentially harmful household items for cats from this vet:
Several plants are toxic to cats, and in 2017, plant toxicity accounted for 5.4% of cases reported to the ASPCA’s poison center. Lilies, sago palms, oleander, rhododendrons, tulips and several others are toxic to cats, so bear this in mind when planting a garden or bringing plants into the house.
Cats are wonderful, loving pets, and it’s our job to keep them safe. With mindfulness and care on our part, we can keep our feline friends from getting accidentally poisoned or injured.