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Cat investigating a house plant

Keeping your indoor cat safe from everyday hazards

We all want is to keep our cats safe and healthy. Even if your cat never ventures outdoors, there are potential hazards right in your home. Recognizing and removing these dangers can keep your pet away from harm and can give you some much needed peace of mind.

Medications

All human medications should be kept out of the reach of your cats. According to the American Veterinarian Medical Association, even common meds like acetaminophen and ibuprofen are unsafe for cats, so store them out of reach. Also, some over-the-counter flea and tick treatments may not be safe for your furry companions. It’s best to check with your vet, and if fleas or ticks are a problem, your vet will be glad to prescribe a safe remedy.

Plants

Many common indoor houseplants are toxic to cats. Lilies are particularly hazardous because every part of the plant—leaf, stem, petals, and even pollen—is toxic to cats. Even mild exposure, such as eating a leaf or grooming pollen from fur, can cause kidney failure in cats. Other common houseplants to avoid include baby’s breath, begonias, dieffenbachia, hyacinth, jade, poinsettia, primrose, and tomato plants.

The Humane Society provides a handy list of plants that are toxic to pets. If you have cats, you should be aware of these plant species and avoid having them any place that your cats can reach. Also, be sure to store any insecticides or herbicides securely in a place your cats cannot reach.

Foods

Many of our favorite human foods are dangerous to cats. Nuts, seeds, and pits—including those from cherries, apples, apricots, peaches, walnuts, and mustards—contain compounds that are toxic and can also pose a choking hazard. Also, common cooking ingredients like yeast dough, garlic, onions, onion powder, salt, and even raisins should be kept away from your cats. Also, dispose of leftovers safely—as items like chicken bones are a choking hazard.

Major cautions are chocolate and coffee (which cats and dogs cannot safely metabolize), and any candy or gum containing the synthetic sweetener Xylitol, which is toxic to pets. Alcohol should be kept away from all pets at all times. Avoid leaving any of these substances in a place where cats may potentially access and consume them.

Choking and blockage hazards

We all know cats love to play with string, but certain household items—like sewing thread, dental floss, and rubber bands—can be choking hazards. If ingested, these items may cause a life-threatening intestinal blockage in which the gut collapses like the bellows of an accordion as it attempts to pass the foreign object. Also, avoid leaving out other foreign objects that might prove tempting to your feline—such as holiday tinsel or lights, and toys with small parts that could easily be swallowed.

Signs of Toxicity

The Pet Poison Helpline lists a variety of symptoms of poisoning to watch for in both cats and dogs. These include common gastrointestinal symptoms (such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, and loss of appetite), signs of kidney failure (uremic breath odor, excessive urination, absence of urination), liver failure (jaundice, weakness, tarry stool), and internal bleeding (coughing blood, pale gums, rapid heart rate, lethargy, and collapse). If your cat exhibits any of these signs, contact your veterinarian, emergency veterinary hospital or a pet poisoning hotline at once.

With these tips in mind, we know you can give your cats the safe and loving environment they deserve.


Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.

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