Top Household Hazards for Cats

Your cat is curious, sticking his nose into random places. But his exploration 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 serious threats to cats, so keep them in a place he can’t get into, including:

  • 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 give your pet any pills without first talking to your vet, though -- it's easy to give him too much, which can kill him.

Human Foods

Your kitty may beg when you sit down to eat (or try to steal some bites when you’re not looking), but some human foods can be poisonous for him, including:

  • 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 -- and a few others that you may bring into your home -- can be hazardous to your cat's health:

  • Aloe
  • Azalea
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Lily
  • Marijuana
  • Mistletoe
  • Poinsettia
  • Rhododendron
  • Tulip

Insecticides and Other Chemicals

Some chemicals taste especially good to cats. To keep him safe, keep any chemicals locked away, especially:

  • 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

Watch out for common household items that can choke or strangle your cat. Some may even block his intestines if he swallows them.

  • Chicken bones
  • Dental floss, yarn, or 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 the clinic’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 ate to the vet with your cat.

Watch for symptoms. Often, cats will show these signs right away. But some symptoms can show up more gradually. Signs to watch for include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Confusion
  • Coughing
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Upset stomach
  • A lot of saliva
  • 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, so they can track problem poisons and help prevent harm to other animals.

WebMD Veterinary Reference Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on 4/, 017

Sources

SOURCES:

American Humane Association: "Pets & Poisons."

ASPCA: "Animal Poison Control FAQ," "Animal Poison Control Center," "People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pet," "17 Poisonous Plants," "Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants."

Cornell University: "Common Cat Toxicities," "Poisons."

Humane Society of the United States: "Flea and Tick Product Ingredients: What You Should Know," "Common Household Dangers for Pets."

University of Arizona: "Pets & Poison."

Washington State University: "Holiday Health Hazards."

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