It’s no secret that indoor cats tend to be the healthiest. But, have we taken a close look at what household hazards are lurking inside our home? Many cat parents may not even realize some of the items we bring into our home could be potential household hazards to our kitties.
Cats are constantly exploring their surroundings, investigating, and refining their hunting skills. Reminds me of the proverbial expression, ‘curiosity killed the cat.’ Perhaps it has some truth to it! Cats are so curious, sometimes a little too much, sticking their noses into wrong places. As a result, their exploration may expose them to some hidden household hazards lurking in your home. It takes some time as a cat parent to know how to “cat-proof” your house. To help navigate this, we put together a list of common household hazards in your home to watch out for.
What Household Hazards are Hiding in Your Home?
In general, the vast majority of poisonings in cats come from something they ingested. These household hazards can come from many different sources and have varying effects on your cat. If there is any question about whether something your cat ate was poisonous, call your veterinarian or an animal poison control center immediately.
It’s safe to assume all human medications are poisonous to cats. That includes, over the counter, prescription, or recreational medications. Of course, not all medications are poisonous, but they should not be given to your cat without veterinary supervision.
Another general rule is anything you would consider poisonous for you or your family is also poisonous for your cat. It’s important to remember these poisons may affect your cat differently than they would you, but they are still not safe for your cat to ingest.
Top 5 Household Hazards for Cats
According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline , here is a list of the top five household hazards for cats:
Plants That Are Household Hazards
Cats are infamous for eating plants; and therefore, suffering the consequences as a result. Common houseplants can be hazardous to your cat’s health. Ingestion of these plants can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, or even kidney failure.
- Sago Palm
Insecticides and other Chemicals That Are Hazardous To Your Cat
Cats are primarily poisoned by contact with concentrated pesticides and fertilizers. This can occur if the product is not stored properly or if too much is used on the lawn. Some chemicals taste especially good to cats. To keep them safe, keep any chemicals locked away, especially:
- De-icing salts (which pets may walk through, then lick their paws)
- Flea and tick medication (pills, collars, flea treatments, sprays, shampoos)
- Insect and rodent bait
Products and Cleaners That Are Household Hazards To Your Cat
These vary quite a bit in chemical makeup and toxicity. These products can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or chemical burns. Also, watch out for common household hazards that can choke or strangle your cat. Some items may even block their intestines if they swallow them:
- Chicken bones
- Dental floss, yarn, or string
- Holiday decorations, including lights, tinsel, and RIBBON!
- Toys with small or movable parts (not likely but still a possibility)
Prescription Drugs and OTC Medications
The container may be child-proof, and sometimes even adult proof, but your cat may succeed at getting to the pills. All drugs should be placed in a safe location and out of reach of cats. The more likely scenario is if you drop some on the floor and your cat may think it’s a treat or if the capsule opens up and the powder gets onto your cat’s fur. If you do happen to drop any, please be sure to pick up any remnants. If your cat gets some chemical on their fur, it’s best to wrap your cat in a towel to prevent them from licking any more off their fur. According to Pet Poison Helpline, 40% of all feline poison cases involved cats that improperly ingested human or veterinary drugs. Over the counter medication (OTC) has ranked as the number one top toxin for the third year in a row. This includes ibuprofen, acetaminophen, cold and flu medicine, vitamins and supplements, and joint rubs.
Common Foods That Are Surprisingly Hazardous To Your Cat
Your cat may be extra curious when you sit down to eat (or even try to steal some when you’re not looking), but some human foods can be poisonous for them. Here are a few human foods with strong poisoning potential for cats.
- Alcoholic Beverages
- Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Peaches, and Plums
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda
- Caffeinated substances like coffee or teas
- Fatty Foods
- Dairy Products
- Grapes and Raisins
- Macadamia Nuts
- Moldy or Spoiled Food
- Onions and Garlic
- Yeast Dough
- Xylitol (found in sugarless gums, candies, toothpastes)
Household Hazard Symptoms to Watch for in Your Cat
Some poisons will have immediate effects upon swallowing. Other hazards may take several days to develop symptoms. There is no “one” reaction or set of symptoms that will indicate a cat has been poisoned. Rather, poisoning is usually one of many possible causes for symptoms a cat may exhibit. Some household hazard symptoms to watch for that may be due to poisoning include:
- Drooling, vomiting, change in appetite, diarrhea
- Breathing difficulty, dilated pupils
- Stumbling or staggering
- Lethargy, sluggish, confusion
- Pale or yellowish gums, skin irritation
- Excessive thirst or urination
- Nervousness, hyperactivity, muscle tremors, seizures, coma
What to Do If Your Cat’s Been Poisoned
Every moment counts if you think your cat has been exposed to something poisonous.
Call Your Vet.
Keep your veterinary clinic’s phone number in an obvious place. You should also have the number for the Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435 (they also have an app) nearby. They can help you know what to do next in the time of an emergency.
Take samples of vomit, stool, and what you think poisoned your cat to the vet with you.
Be Aware and Educate.
After your cat recovers, call your poison control center or humane society and let them know what happened. This way they can keep track of poisons and help prevent harm in the future to other animals.
As cat parents, we do our best to protect our kitties but accidents do happen. It’s important to be aware of the toxins surrounding our pets and be proactive in keeping our cats healthy. Remember, prevention is key; and certainly better than a vet visit!
Has your cat ever ingested something they were not suppose to? What was the outcome? Let us know in the comments below!