Even cats that spend most of their time indoors may be exposed to a number of potential hazards. The following list will help keep your home safe and sound for your cat.
Be aware of the plants you have in your house and in your yard. The ingestion of a poisonous plant may be fatal.
When cleaning your house, never allow your cat access to the area where cleaning agents are used or stored. Some may only cause a mild stomach upset, while others could cause severe burns of the tongue, mouth and stomach, and may even be fatal. When using rat or mouse baits, ant or roach traps, or snail and slug baits, place the products in areas that are inaccessible to your cat. Most bait contains sweet-smelling, inert ingredients, such as jelly, peanut butter and sugars, which can be very attractive to a cat.
Never give your cat any medications unless under the directions of a veterinarian. Many medications that are used safely in humans can be deadly to a cat.
Keep all prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs out of the reach of your cat, preferably in closed cabinets. Pain-killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, vitamins and diet pills are common examples of human medications that could be potentially lethal, even in small dosages.
Many common household items have been shown to be lethal in certain species. Miscellaneous items that are highly toxic even in low quantities include pennies (high concentration of zinc), mothballs (contain naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene — one or two balls can be life-threatening in most species), potpourri oils, fabric softener sheets, automatic dish detergents (contain cationic detergents which could cause corrosive lesions), batteries (contain acids or alkali, which can also cause corrosive lesions), homemade play dough (contains high quantity of salt), winter heat source agents like hand or foot warmers (contain high levels of iron), cigarettes, coffee grounds and alcoholic drinks.
All automotive products, such as oil, gasoline and antifreeze, should be stored properly. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze (ethylene glycol) can be deadly to a cat. Wash off any poisonous substance on your cat’s coat or skin before she licks it off and poisons herself. Use cat-safe soap and warm water or give her a complete bath.
Before buying or using flea products on your cat or in your household, contact your veterinarian to discuss what types of flea products are recommended for her. Read ALL information before using a product on your cat or in your home. Always follow label instructions. Also, when using a fogger or a house spray, make sure to remove all pets from the area for the time period specified on the container. If you are uncertain about the usage of any product, contact the manufacturer or your veterinarian to clarify the directions BEFORE using the product.
When treating your lawn or garden with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides, always keep your cat away from the area until the area dries completely. If in doubt, ask the manufacturer whether using the product may be harmful to your cat.
Sharp objects such as knives and forks, paper clips, carpet tacks and pins should be kept out of a cat’s reach. Children’s toys and small objects may attract a playful cat and become lodged in her mouth or swallowed. Although kittens are sometimes pictured with a ball of yarn, if ingested, yarn as well as thread and twine could cause serious damage to the intestinal tract.
Lead paint should be removed with extreme caution. Cleanup should be prompt and thorough. Other items containing lead accessible to cats include linoleum and caulking compounds. Signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, loss of appetite, loss of muscle coordination, blindness and seizures.
Outside of the house, make sure your cat is clearly identified whether you use a collar and an identification tag or a more permanent form of identification like tattooing.
A final thought
If you have children, many of the safety measures needed for pets are probably already in place.