Unexpected Feline Household Dangers

There are many dangers in all of our homes.

Everyone knows that insecticides, rodenticides, yard products including fertilizers and other chemicals, and many household cleaners can all be toxic to our feline friends. But let’s take a look at some things you may not know are dangerous.

Medications and Supplements

Cats are sensitive to many medications, more so than dogs, which is why veterinarians continually stress that cats should never be given any medication prescribed for your dog or that is available over the counter. That applies to supplements also.

Unfortunately, most medications and many supplements are packaged in plastic containers that rattle. Your cat may hear you shake out a vitamin, watch you put the plastic container back on the counter, and then when you walk away, the cat decides to play with it. If the lid isn’t on tight, tablets may fall out and your cat may chew on one. It’s so easy for a disaster to happen. Put all medication away in a latched cupboard.

Chocolate and Xylitol

Although cats don’t taste sweets as we do (and as dogs do), and therefore aren’t drawn to it as we are, their curiosity can get them into trouble. If chocolate is left out, especially around one of the holidays when candy is often a part of the celebrations, your cat may decide to play with it or taste it. You might not think that playing with chocolate candy is bad, but when the cat gets chocolate on his paws and then cleans himself, he’s then ingesting it.

Chocolate contains methylxanthines, which in cats and dogs can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, and death. The darker the chocolate, and the higher the cocoa content, the more dangerous it is. If you suspect your cat has ingested any chocolate at all, call your veterinarian. Don’t wait for any symptoms to appear.

Xylitol is advertised as a natural sweetener that is better for us (humans) than other sugars. It may well be as it is advertised as better for diabetics and it has dental benefits. There are no benefits to our pets, though; it can be deadly to dogs and cats. Even a small amount can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, liver failure, and death. Unfortunately, this reaction occurs within a very short period of time; within 30 minutes in many cases. This sweetener is so deadly I refuse to buy any product that contains it.

Xylitol has been added to dental products, including toothpaste and mouthwashes, as well as foods. It’s in many gums. Many nut butters contain it now. It’s important to read labels, even of products you may normally buy, because recipes change.

Treated Toilet Water

Those cakes that add chemicals to the water every time someone flushes may help keep the toilet bowl clean, but they can also be toxic to your cat should he drink or play in the water. Each brand has its own formulation (or recipe) so read the label careful to see what the ingredients are and what warnings there are. You may also have to do an internet search as to exactly what the chemical is and whether it’s dangerous to pets.

If you wish to continue using it, make sure everyone puts the toilet lid down after use every single time. Stress how important this is.

©istockphoto/spxChrome

Strings, Thread, Floss, and Rubber Bands

One of the things most cat owners enjoy about their pets is their ability to play with anything. A cat can find a bit of paper on the floor and have a wonderful game with it.

This sense of play is what causes cats to play with string, thread, dental floss, rubber bands, yarn, or tinsel off the Christmas tree. Although it’s great fun to watch cats play with these items, these can all cause great harm should the cat swallow any of it. Let’s say your cat finds a bit of threat that fell to the floor after you sewed on a button. The thread is fun to flip with a paw, chase, and tackle. However, when a bit of the thread is in the cat’s mouth, the swallowing reflex takes over and the cat swallows it. Then she continues swallowing until the whole piece is gone. As that thread moves through her digestive tract, it can cut the sensitive tissues or it can ball up and create an obstruction. One end may be excreted with feces while the remainder is still in the colon. The dangers are just astronomical.

Feel free to play with your cat with some yarn but then put it away where she can’t get to it when you aren’t supervising her. Put used floss in a covered trash can. Pick up bits of thread and string, and keep rubber bands in a desk drawer. Roll up and fasten the dangling cords on your mini blinds. Just be safe.

Paints, Craft, and Hobby Supplies

Last December I was getting ready for the holidays and was working on some craft projects. At the same time, I was fostering a litter of five kittens who were almost ready to be adopted to new homes. Since they were healthy and almost ready to go, I let them have free run of my home while I was home and could supervise. This makes the transition from one home to another much easier than if they had been kept in a cage.

I was laughing at the kittens’ antics as I worked on my craft projects, which included hot glue, silk flowers, paint, and glitter. All of a sudden two of the kittens appeared (they must have levitated) onto the middle of my craft table and were immediately covered in paint and glitter. Thankfully they didn’t touch the hot glue. I had to stop what I was doing to give two kittens baths before they tried to clean the paint and glitter off themselves.

Paints, glues, and other craft supplies are not a good mix with kittens and cats. Since cats clean themselves and swallow those things they clean out of the their coat, even some non-toxic substances can become a problem. Now, foster kittens get put away before I bring out any craft supplies.

Just Be Careful

If you have any doubts of a particular product’s safety, look it up online. We have many resources available now that can help us find out if a product is dangerous or not to our cats (or ourselves).

Plus, if you’re concerned, just keep it away from your cat. Latched cupboards and an area in the garage or in a shed outside can keep a curious cat safe. You know how curious your cat is (or isn’t) and how hard he’ll work to try and get something he wants. If your cat is one of those with a determined personality, then you’ll have to work harder to keep him safe.

Meet the Author: Liz Palika

Liz Palika is a Certified Dog Trainer, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, and the co-owner of Kindred Spirits Dog Training in Vista, CA. Liz is also an award-winning author and writer specializing in pets. She writes about cats, cat behavior and health, dogs, dog behavior and health, living with pets, and pet nutrition. Liz’s works have been recognized with many awards, but her most recent book, “Idiot’s Guides: Dog Training” (Penguin Books, 2014) recently won the Best Nonfiction book category in the San Diego Book Writing competition. Liz shares her home with two dogs; Bashir, an Australian Shepherd, and Bones, an English Shepherd. Three cats, Spock, Scottie, and Kirk, provide motivation for her articles about cats. And yes, she is a Star Trek fan. For more information go to www.kindredspiritsk9.com.

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