Protect Your Cat From Five Common Hazards

I have heard from several cat folks who felt that my recent post on common poisons in pets didn't really apply to them. I see...


I have heard from several cat folks who felt that my recent post on common poisons in pets didn’t really apply to them. I see their point. The poisons mentioned in the post (chocolate, rodenticides and xylitol) most often affect dogs.

It is no secret that cats are quite selective about what they consume. That makes them less likely to suffer adverse effects from the poisons in the previous post. But there are plenty of hazards out there for cats. So let’s give cats their due.

Here are some hazardous items that, in my experience, commonly cause trouble for feline companions.

  • Cheap flea control products. Many topical flea preventatives found in grocery stores and drug stores have low margins of safety. If you apply too much, or if you apply a canine product to your cat, you may see trembling, drooling, disorientation, staggering or even death. High quality flea preventatives do not generally cause these reactions. (Photo credit: CDC)
  • String, thread and yarn. Norman Rockwell loved to paint pictures of kittens playing with balls of yarn. But if a cat swallows yarn, string or thread it can lead to a life-threatening condition in which the intestines bunch together. Surgery may be necessary, and some cats do not survive. The situation is even more serious if a needle is attached to thread that a cat swallows.
  • Household chemicals. Cats don’t often consume chemicals straight from the bottle or the floor (an exception is radiator antifreeze–and it’s highly toxic). But if chemicals contaminate a cat’s skin, he or she will lick them off and swallow them in the course of normal grooming.
  • Houseplants. Many cats love to nibble on houseplants. Unfortunately, many houseplants are poisonous to cats. Lilies and Dieffenbachia species are two of the most common. For a more comprehensive list, click here.
  • Human or canine medications. Many well-meaning people inadvertently poison their cats with human or canine pain killers, anti-anxiety drugs or other medications. Never give medicine to a cat without consulting a veterinarian.
  • Please remember that the above list is not comprehensive. However, if more people take care to protect their cats from the hazards in this post, fewer cats will end up in emergency rooms.

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