As you’ve discovered by now, your pet is an amazingly curious and resourceful hunter of fun things to do and eat. Unfortunately, some of those things can be harmful or even fatal. Below is a list of four common household items you need to keep out of your cat or kitten’s reach – and out of her mouth. Also be sure to check out our extended list of household hazards for cats.
1. Medications for people: Common pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are very toxic to felines. Cats don’t have the enzymes needed to detoxify and eliminate these substances, so they can cause liver or kidney failure. Other human drugs that are commonly involved in accidental poisoning include antidepressants, antihistamines, sleeping pills, diet pills, blood pressure medications and vitamins. It should go without saying that alcohol and any other recreational drugs are extremely hazardous to cats.
2. Strings, tinsel and rubber bands: Cats’ tongues have barbs on them, and if your pet starts swallowing a string she won’t be able to spit it out. Although these objects sometimes pass through a cat’s digestive tract without any problems, they can get tangled and literally cause knots in your cat’s intestines – a condition which is fatal unless promptly treated. Thread can also be attached to a needle, which can puncture your cat’s esophagus or internal organs. To avoid this problem, keep all your thread, yarn, and rubber bands safely in a drawer or covered storage tote, and don’t use tinsel to decorate your Christmas Tree.
3. Poisonous plants: A number of common household plants can cause toxic reactions from vomiting all the way to hallucinations, convulsions, and death. Some plants to remove from your house: Dieffenbachia (dumb cane); lilies, daffodils, crocuses or other bulb flowers; ivy; and spider plants. For a complete listing of plants toxic (and non-toxic) to cats, visit the ASPCA website.
4. People foods: Chocolate is highly toxic to cats, and a few ounces of high-quality chocolate could kill your pet. Raw egg whites contain an enzyme that destroys certain B vitamins. Raw egg yolks are OK as an occasional treat, but they must be separated from the whites. Onions, garlic, and other related vegetables contain a substance that destroys red blood cells and can cause anemia. Green tomatoes and raw potatoes can cause violent lower digestive symptoms.
If you think your cat has been poisoned, call your veterinarian or contact the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center hotline at (888) 426-4435 (a $65 charge will be applied to your credit card for APCC hotline calls).