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Top Household Hazards for Cats

Your cat is curious, sticking his nose into random spaces and places. Exploring may expose him to some not so obvious dangers in your home. It just takes a bit of time and know-how to “cat-proof” your house so your kitty stays healthy and safe.

Human Medicines

Some human over-the-counter and prescription medicines pose a serious threat to your cat, so keep them in a place he can’t get into.

  • Antidepressants
  • Cancer medicines
  • Cold medicines
  • Diet pills
  • Pain relievers (acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen)
  • Vitamins and other supplements

You may have heard that some common medicines work for people and cats. Never medicate your cat without first talking to your vet, though -- it's easy to give your cat a fatal overdose. 

Human Foods 

Many cats crave people food, but this human fare can be poisonous to your feline:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine (coffee, soda, tea)
  • Chives
  • Chocolate
  • Garlic 
  • Grapes
  • Onions
  • Raisins
  • Xylitol (found in sugarless gums, candies, toothpastes)
  • Yeast dough

Indoor and Outdoor Plants   

Common houseplants -- as well as ones that you may bring into your home -- can be hazardous to your cat's health: 

  • Aloe
  • Azaleas
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Lilies
  • Marijuana
  • Mistletoe
  • Poinsettia
  • Rhododendron
  • Tulips

Insecticides and Other Chemicals

Some chemicals taste especially good to cats. To prevent accidental pet poisoning, keep these and all chemicals locked away:

  • Antifreeze
  • Bleach
  • Detergents
  • De-icing salts (which pets may walk through, then lick from their pads)
  • Dog flea and tick medication (pills, collars, sprays, shampoos)
  • Fertilizers
  • Herbicides
  • Insect and rodent bait

More Household Hazards

These common household items can choke or strangle your cat. Some may even lead to intestinal blockages.

  • Chicken bones
  • Dental floss, yarn, string
  • Holiday decorations, including lights and tinsel
  • Toys with small or movable parts

If Your Cat’s Been Poisoned

Every moment matters if you think your cat has been exposed to something toxic.

Call your vet. Post your veterinarian's phone number in an obvious place, along with the number for the Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435. They can help you know what to do next.

Collect samples. Take samples of vomit, stool, and the poison your cat consumed to the vet with your cat.

Watch for symptoms. Symptoms of poisoning in cats include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Confusion
  • Coughing
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Gastrointestinal irritation
  • Salivation
  • Seizures
  • Shivering
  • Skin irritation
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Educate. After your cat recovers, call your poison control center or humane society to let them know what happened to your pet, so they can track problem poisons and help prevent other pet poisonings.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on September 20, 2012
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