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Pet Care » Your Cat's Habitat

Tips for Pet-Proofing your Home

Suggestions on How to Make and Keep Kitty Safe

The world can be a dangerous place to a cat if certain precautions aren't taken to minimize risks. Even with the greatest amount of care, accidents can still happen. Our goal here is to provide you with a general checklist of items and conditions that can be hazardous to your fur baby.

By being aware of such potential problems, you can plan accordingly to reduce the associated risks, whether removing or controlling certain items found in the cat's environment, using "safer" products, or avoiding specific situations. While we won't go into detail about each listing, we'll try to be thorough. Please also realize that direct contact, ingestion, or inhalation of an "offending" item that's listed isn't the only route for potential harm; some items are a risk via secondary contact and/or ingestion.

Chemicals/Chemically-Coated Items

  • Antifreeze
  • Flea products, shampoos, and medications labeled "for dog use only"
  • Herbicides/Insecticides (especially those that contain arsenic)
  • Household cleaners
  • Matches
  • Mothballs
  • Mouse poisons
  • Paint

Conditions

  • Access to the garage (Cats can ingest, rub against, or become coated with toxic compounds, they might sleep on a warm car engine, or they could become overwhelmed with car fumes if a car is left running and unattended.)
  • Being allowed to go outside (especially if they've been de-clawed)
  • Being allowed to roam outside without being vaccinated
  • Open high windows or balconies
  • Open recliners
  • Open washer/drier doors
  • Rooms with excessive temperatures
  • Toilet lids left up
  • Unattended buckets or tubs of water
  • Unattended candles or potpourri
  • Unattended heated stove tops

Food

  • Bones
  • Chocolate
  • Dog-food-only diets
  • Excessive amounts of tuna (especially tuna that's been stored in oil)
  • Liver
  • Milk (might irritate some cat's stomach but not toxic)
  • Mushrooms (human grade not toxic but cat could ingest poisonous varieties while roaming outdoors)
  • Onions
  • Raw eggs
  • Raw meat/fish (controversial as some people feed their pets a raw food diet)

Medications

  • Allergy pills
  • Aspirin
  • Diet supplements
  • Ibuprofen and other pain relievers
  • Laxatives
  • Sleeping pills
  • Stimulants
  • Tylenol
  • Zinc oxide products

Objects

  • Broken glass
  • Cellophane
  • Christmas tree tinsel and ornaments
  • Cords (electrical and drapery)
  • Garbage (both the bags and its contents)
  • Glass pieces that can easily be knocked over
  • Knee high pantyhose
  • Lead fishing sinkers
  • Loose plastic bags
  • Nails
  • Needles
  • Pennies (contain zinc)
  • Small balls
  • Small craft items
  • Small miscellaneous objects (paper clips, rubber bands, pins, coins, tacks, etc)
  • String
  • Toys that have easily removable parts including feathers and string

Plants (Not all varieties of those listed are a problem and not all are life threatening)

  • Azaleas
  • Bulbs
  • Buttercups
  • Cherry Trees
  • Easter Lily
  • Hemlocks
  • Horse Chestnut
  • Ivy
  • Locust
  • Lupines
  • Milkweed
  • Nightshades
  • Oleander
  • Philodendrons
  • Poinsettia
  • Red Oak
  • Rhododendrons
  • Rhubarb
  • Thorn Apple
  • Tobacco
  • Yew
  • Tansy

Go through your home prior to introducing a new pet into the environment as well as conduct regularly scheduled "re-checks" just in case something has changed and/or you missed something during the last walk through. It would also be a good idea to spend some time putting together a first aid kit for your cat. Include the "normal" medical supplies like bandages, gauze, hydrogen peroxide, saline solution, triple antibiotic ointment, etc. Check with your veterinarian for other suggestions including any potential "antidotes" to have immediately available.

Have the phone number for the Animal Poison Control Center associated with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in a handy location. There are several telephone numbers available to reach the center that's staffed by veterinarians 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can call 888-426-4435, 800-548-2423, or 900-680-0000. There's a fee for using their services, but most pet owners would agree that the information they provide is money well spent.

As the adage of old states, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Pet-proof your home and have an emergency plan in mind, then sit back and relax. You've done your job as a responsible pet owner to make your cat's environment a safe place to be. Be vigilant without being overly concerned and all will be well.

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