Every year hundreds of cats are killed, or become ill or injured due to accidents in the home. These can occur many ways - from overlooked household poisons and hazards to well-meaning owners unknowingly administering or feeding something harmful to their cat. To be aware of the risks and remove all the potential hazards will greatly decrease the odds of a home accident. However, no one could foresee every danger and no matter how diligent, accidents can occur.
Be sure to keep your vet's telephone number and an after-hours emergency clinic number close to your phone. In addition, keep the numbers of one or more of the Animal Poison Control Centres for your area. If you can't reach anyone locally, these round-the-clock services offer professional help over the phone. (Note: These services charge a fee.)
Keep in mind that while a cat showing signs of distress is an obvious need for action, they are also very stoic in nature, and hide illness well. Don't take chances or try to guess what to do. Call your vet's office or emergency clinic immediately for expert help and advice.
Note: All sections below represent a partial list only!
APPLIANCES & HOUSEHOLD ITEMS
- Make sure all household cleaners, yard and automotive products are stored safety and securely out of your pet's reach. Toxic to varying degrees, many could be lethal. Some such as antifreeze and rodent poisons are a sweet-tasting attractant to cats and could kill with even the smallest amount ingested. Mothballs are extremely harmful if ingested.
- Keep all appliance doors closed when not use and remember to look inside your dishwasher, washer, dryer, freezer, refrigerator, and even car trunk before closing up.
- Soft, warm clothes makes the dryer in particular very dangerous. It's one of the most common and tragic cat accidents in the home. Always look first before activating.
- Things too quiet? Check on your cat or kitten's whereabouts periodically throughout the day, just as you would with a toddler.
- Window blind cords can pose a strangulation threat, as can fringed bedspreads and electrical cords. Secure firmly where possible, or consider removing entirely.
- Make sure your cat doesn't chew on any electrical cords, and don't leave small appliance cords, such as an iron or electric pans dangling. A rambunctious cat running past could bring it over onto themselves.
- In your bathrooms - don't leave toiletries, cosmetics or medications lying around. Never leave drawn bathwater unattended, and keep the toilet seat down! Sad but true, inquisitive kittens have drowned this way, unable to get themselves out after falling in.
- If you have a recliner or sofa-bed, activate with extreme caution. They can be deadly!
- A cat's rough, barbed tongue can make it difficult for them to spit out an item taken into their mouth. Some common items swallowed: string, thread (and needle!) Christmas-tree tinsel, dental floss, twist-ties, elastic and hair bands, If you see a thread-like object in your cat's mouth, and it's stuck, don't pull on it! It may be wrapped around the cat's intestines. Seek veterinary help at once.
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- Cats love batting small objects around as toys, but if they're too small, they could wind up in their stomach. Just a few things that pose this risk: parts of a milk cap ring, buttons, beads, bread tabs, paper clips, small jewelry items and coins.
- Check all your cat's purchased toys too, just as you would with a child's, to make sure there are no small loose pieces that could come off.
- Plastic bags and balloons are always fun items for felines, but they too pose a danger. Never leave any of these kitty temptations around when your not there to supervise. Safeguard both your kitty and your breakable glass or china treasures by keeping them securely put away.
Many houseplants are toxic to cats if eaten and can result in minor discomfort to serious illness. Be sure you know the name and toxicity level of every plant in your home. All toxic plants should be kept well out of reach - the safest precaution would be to have only the harmless variety. Catnip or an oat grass plant may help satisfy kitties love of greens.
The Easter Lily and all varieties of Lilies are very toxic (all parts of the plant) and can cause kidney failure. Other common plants with parts that pose a serious danger are the Oleander and Dieffenbachia plants. Locate and print out a complete and detailed listing of both toxic and non-toxic plants and keep it easily accessible for reference.
If you think your cat may have ingested a toxic plant, seek veterinary assistance immediately. Bring the plant in question with you for positive identification at the veterinary clinic.
Cats have very specific dietary requirements. Some human foods are not well-tolerated by cats, and can cause digestive upsets and diarrhea. Others fed too frequently can harm your cat's health over time by slowly robbing them of essential nutrients. Some foods are highly toxic and should never be consumed. Doing careful research into a complete and balanced diet for your pets is of vital importance to maximize your cat's overall health and well-being, general condition and longevity. Investigate, research, ask! Know what to feed - and what not to feed for your cats health and safety.
Some foods that could pose risks to your cat's health:
- Milk and most dairy products - not generally tolerated well by cats - can cause digestive upsets and diarrhea
- Tinned fish for humans, such as tuna and salmon, can cause dietary deficiencies over time and should be avoided.
- Onions and garlic can cause hemolytic anemia in cats.
- Dog food is not a suitable diet for cats. Fed as a main dietary source could lead to malnutrition and diseases affecting the heart.
- Fatty, salty cooked meats and luncheon-type meats, such as ham, can cause pancreatitis and should not be fed.
- Mushrooms can contain toxins which may affect multiple systems in the body, causing shock, and result in death.
- Whole raw eggs contain an enzyme which decreases the absorption of certain vitamins in the body. This can lead to skin and coat problems. Whole raw eggs may also contain salmonella.