You probably already know to keep your cats away from the stove, sharp objects, open windows and open flames. Sometimes, however, the dangers to your precious fur babies aren't as obvious. Many common household items, such as medications and food, can pose a threat to your cat's health. If you're unsure about whether or not something is hazardous to your cat, contact your veterinarian for clarification.
In 2012, the ASPCA handled 25,000 cases of pets ingesting their owner’s medication. The ASPCA notes that the top three medications pets are exposed to include antidepressants, heart medications and pain medication.
It’s not just human medications that can be dangerous, though. Flavored and chewable pet medications make it easier to administer medicine to your pets, but it also increases the likelihood that your cat will eat the whole bag or bottle if given the opportunity. Keep all medications, human or pet, locked up and away from your pets.
Household plants may add beauty and life to your environment, but they can be extremely dangerous if your cat decides to eat them. The ingestion of lilies, for example, can lead to kidney failure and death in a matter of hours. Other toxic plants include poinsettias, aloe vera, branching ivy, fern, carnations, daffodils and eucalyptus. Always do your research before bringing a plant into your home. Even if a plant is considered nontoxic, it is best to discourage your cat from chewing on leaves or flowers.
Pest products, like insecticides and rodenticides, are effective at killing unwanted guests in your house, but they also pose a threat to the cats you love. Ingestion of these poisons can cause internal bleeding, seizures or kidney failures. According to the ASPCA, more than 50 percent of the calls to the Animal Poison Control Center about cats involve exposure to insecticides.
Take care when putting poisons in your house. Do not leave ant traps or rat poisons anywhere your cat can reach. Keep in mind that cats are crafty and determined. When they see something they want, they do a good job of getting to it.
You might think that slipping table scraps to your cat is the way to his heart, but it can cause more harm than good. Chocolate, grapes and raisins are toxic to cats. Other potential food dangers include onions, macadamia nuts, tomato leaves and stems and rhubarb leaves. Xylitol, the sweetener found in many sugar-free gums, can cause hypoglycemia -- or low blood sugar – which can lead to liver damage or liver failure. Leftover chicken bones can shatter and become a choking hazard. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so stick to feeding your cats cat food.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Lindsay Boyers has a Bachelor of Science in nutrition from Framingham State College and a certificate in holistic nutrition from the American College of Healthcare Sciences. She is also a licensed aesthetician with advanced training in skincare and makeup. She plans to continue on with her education, complete a master's degree program in nutrition and, ultimately, become a registered dietitian.