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Cats - Household Dangers

A house can hold as many dangers for a kitten or cat as for a small child, sometimes more.
Be very careful with the following items:

Plants

Many houseplants are toxic. Be sure to read the list.

Rubber bands

Many cats like to chew rubber bands; these can be swallowed.

Chopsticks (also pens, pencils...)

A chopstick on the counter may look enticing, but if the cat takes it and jumps to the floor it could cause injury. One of our cats rammed a chopstick into the roof of her mouth doing this (no permanent damage, we are relieved to say! But she did need stitches.).

Alumnium foil balls, corks, bread wrapper "ties"

These may seem like fun "toys", but can be hazardous or deadly if swallowed.

String, yarn, thread, loose threads on curtains, dental floss...

These can "saw" through the digestive system as they are swallowed, with fatal results.

Cellophane and "crunchy" plastics

These can "glassify" in the stomach and cause perforations.

Electric cords

Don't let the cat chew on these!

Half-empty drinking glasses

A cat trying to reach the water or milk in the bottom of the glass can get his head stuck in the glass (it has happened).

Plastic bags or shopping bags with handles

Cats can get trapped in plastic bags and suffocated or harmed when trying to escape. See this educational set of photos for a demonstration (no cats were harmed for this demonstration!). Cats can get caught in the handles of paper shopping bags and hurt when trying to get free; be sure to cut the handles of paper shopping bags before allowing your cat to play.

Windows

Make sure all your windows have tight-fitting screens; cats like to lie in open windows and may lean against the screens.

Cabinet doors

As you would for small children, make sure all cabinet doors close and latch properly.

Kitchen hazards

Don't leave sharp knives where a cat could bat them to the floor (or possbly onto a feline or canine friend!) Keep cats away from the stove top. Turn handles of pots inwards. Watch out for interested paws reaching to the countertop when you're chopping vegetables or working with a knife - Maine Coons can stretch to easily reach a countertop!) Make sure cats are out of the way befopre closing the refrigerator, and be sure kittens haven't climbed inside to investigate.

"Garage" Dangers

Keep cats away from pressure treated lumber (arsenic poisoning), antifreeze (tastes sweet, but deadly), pesticides, gasoline, paint, paint remover or thinner, power tools, used motor oil, batteries...

The Laundry Room

Don't let the cat into the laundry room and/or always check the dryer before running a load of clothes. A kitten can suffocate quickly in clothes dryer. Be sure the kitten isn't napping in the clothes before you dump them down the laundry shoot or into the hamper. Keep cats away from mothballs, fabric softeners, laundry soaps, laundry pre-treatment sprays, bleach...

"Harry Homeowner" Projects

Keep the cat out of the room when you are painting, tiling, spackling, varnishing, staining, refinishing furniture... and make sure to use proper cross-ventilation for yourself!

"Common" Household Items

Some dangers you might never think about include cigarettes/tobacco, coffee grounds, moth balls, dish detergent, homemade "play dough", alcohol, chocolate, loose coins, potpourri, prescription and over-the-counter drugs (including painkillers such as Tylenol and Aspirin), flea-products labeled for dogs only, ...

"Don't Put that in your Mouth!"

Watch out for small objects that cats might want to carry about in their mouths, for example: screws, push pins, thumb tacks, small toys, pencil erasers, paper clips, twist-ties, ribbon...

Cat Toys

Inspect cat toys for loose decorations and over-wear. Throw away and replace damaged or outworn toys. Remove loose "eyes", jingle bells, or other small decorations that could come off and be swallowed. Practice "safe play" with interactive toys - put these away when the game is over.

Household cleaning products

Keep the cat away when cleaning. If you must use products such as Ajax or Comet (and similar bleaching cleansers), Windex, Fantastik, or Formula 409 (and similar cleaners)... rinse, rinse, rinse and then rinse some more. Try to avoid use of household pesticides and fungicides (such as Ant & Roach sprays, Tilex, Lysol) and any products that have this warning on the label:

CAUTION: Hazardous to Humans and Domestic Animals

Consider changing to some environmentally friendly and non-toxic products:


Also see the additional recommended health links on our Health page.