The stories of pet owners finding out too late about an unforeseen danger to their cat hiding in plain sight are too numerous and heartbreaking. Sometimes the most ordinary of household items can pose a threat to a cat, so it is important to step back and evaluate just how safe your house is for a pet.
How to Cat Proof Your Home
The rules of cat proofing a home are similar to the rules of making a home safe for a baby—anything that is not meant for a cat to ingest should not be within their reach. Put away things like cleaning supplies, automotive products, pesticides, medications etc. behind locked doors so your kitty can’t accidentally get into them. You should also make sure that small objects, plastic bags, or string are kept out of reach of your cat, who could swallow them and suffer from serious intestinal blockages.
Another thing to check is the plants inside and outside of your house. A surprising amount of plants are toxic to cats, including yew, oleander, and azalea. Think abut either getting rid of or cat proofing plants that could be harmful.
Making your home safe for a cat might also extend to keeping them safe around children and dogs. If you are introducing a cat to a resident dog or vice versa, be sure to follow the proper introduction steps to ensure the safety of both pets. In addition, teach children how to care for cats safely, including how to properly pick up a cat. Kitten safety depends on the cat’s living situation, but the first step is being aware of potential dangers and learning how to minimize them.
Surprising Home Dangers
There are a lot of surprising dangers for cats lurking in ordinary homes that many owners are not aware of until it is too late. Here are a few surprisingly poisonous things to watch out for:
- Snow Globes – Snow globes contain anti-freeze, which can seep through a cat’s skin and irreparably damage their kidneys if even a little bit of the liquid gets on them.
- Holiday Plants – A lot of the plants people put out around the holidays are toxic to cats, including holly, mistletoe, lilies, poinsettias, and even the chemicals some people put in Christmas tree water to keep the tree fresh longer.
- Plug in Air Fresheners – Even if these are plugged into a wall out of reach of a cat, they can still leak a potentially fatal substance.
- Some dog products – Some pet products for dogs, such as pet flea and tick topicals, contain permethrin, an insecticide that is toxic for cats.
- Grapes and raisins – These contain an unknown chemical that can damage a cat’s kidneys.
- Potpourri – This can be toxic to cats if they eat it.
- Clothes Dryers - Many home owners think it's cute to let their kitties play in the dryer - however, many cats have lost their lives in dryers. In a home where many people do the laundry, for example, someone can not be paying attention that a sweet kitty has jumped into the warm dryer and then the human presses start and leaves. Meanwhile, the kitty dies a horrible death. So I made mine scared of the dryer as I never knew who would be interested in the dryer.
- Other dangers include many kinds of human food, including alcohol, tobacco, and chocolate. Household odds and ends like dryer sheets, mothballs, batteries, and dish detergent can also cause cat health issues.
Basic Safety Tips
In addition to cat-proofing your house as much as you can, be prepared in the event that your cat does eat or expose themselves to a toxic chemical, since time is of the essence when it comes to poison treatment. Here are a few final tips for preparing yourself for an emergency cat health problem:
- Save phone numbers like poison control, your vet’s regular hours, and their emergency hours.
- Contact your vet right away if you suspect poisoning.
- When you contact the vet, they will probably ask about ingredients in something your cat ate, so keep everything in the original containers so you can quickly identify them.
Just remember…if something was not designed for a cat, do not let them play with it or chew on it!
What are some other common household dangers? What tips do you have for cat-proofing a house?