Because our feline babies can sometimes be more difficult to monitor than our canine and human children, it is particularly important to make sure you survey your home and yard to get rid of potentially dangerous items for your cats. You will also need to pay attention to see if your cat is acting peculiar because this could indicate that he has been exposed to or ingested a household item or food which is toxic to cats.
Indicators that your cat may have been poisoned include bewilderment, breathing issues, coughing, seizures, shivering, dilated pupils, gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, tremors, weakness, skin irritation and vomiting. If you think your cat has ingested something that might be dangerous, you may want to immediately call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control line at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661 and then head to your vet. Note that most poison help lines will charge you a consultation fee.
1. Human Food
Cats like people food but that doesn’t mean they should have it. Human food can make your feline kids sick and even result in death. Whatever else you do, make sure to never give your cat onions, grapes or raisins, caffeine, alcohol, garlic, chocolate, chives, yeast dough or Xylitol, which is found in sugarless gum and candy. In addition:
- Too much tuna can lead to mercury poisoning.
- Felines are lactose-intolerant so don’t give them milk and do not EVER give them alcohol.
- Chocolate can be deadly so forgo the sweets.
- Do not let your cat drink anything contained caffeine which is lethal to cats if drunk in large quantities.
- Cats can choke on cooked chicken and other animal bones, which tend to become brittle and break easily into sharp shards.
- Do not feet your cat raw eggs. When ingested by cats, this can lead to skin issues as well as interrupt the absorption of biotin, a B vitamin.
- Raw meat and fish can cause food poisoning. Ingestion of too much raw fish can reduce thiamin levels and if there is a thiamin shortage your cat can develop neurological issues, leading to convulsions and coma.
2. Household Plants
Cats, like dogs, are inquisitive, which can get them in trouble. If you have household plants, be aware that some are poisonous to cats, including mistletoe, lilies, aloe, azaleas, marijuana, tulips, rhododendron, mums and poinsettia.
Felines like the taste of certain chemicals, such as antifreeze, because it is sweet. Ingesting chemicals can make your cat horribly sick and may prove fatal. Do not give your cat access to bleach, antifreeze, de-icing salts, detergents, herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers, dog flea and tick medication, including shampoos, sprays, collars and pills, and rodent and insect bait. Note that if you use de-icing salts on your porch or sidewalk this can aggravate your cat’s paws and is toxic if licked off. If your cat has walked on de-icing salts, carefully wash and dry his paws immediately.
4. Human and Pet Medications
Do not leave our prescription and OTC medications or those for your pets, out where your cats might access them. Remember that unlike most dogs, your cats can generally go anywhere in the house, including high counter tops, shelves and cabinets and may squeeze through small openings that would be inaccessible to your canine fur babies. Human drugs which are poisonous to cats include diet pills, cold medicine, cancer medication, antidepressants, vitamins and pain relievers. Animals can easily OD on human drugs as well as on their own medications if taken in inappropriate amounts.
5. Household Cleaners
According to Pet Poison HelpLine, while some household cleaners like Windex are relatively safe for pets, many are toxic, including toilet bowl cleaners and drain cleaners which can cause not just internal injuries but skin burns as well. You may wish to switch to homemade household cleaners using simple but relatively safe components like vinegar, Castille soap and baking soda.
6. Rodent Poison
If your cat eats a dead rodent which was killed by rodent poisoning, the cat can experience secondary poisoning. Rodent poisoning can be deadly to a cat, whether ingested firsthand or by eating a deceased rodent.
7. Stringy Materials
Do not leave rubber bands, yarns, nylons, dental floss, string or dental floss where a cat can access them. If swallowed, these items can lead to intestinal logjams and even strangulation. Also remember to keep a close eye on your natural climbers around the holidays when tinsel-laden trees can be an irresistible lure for your curious cat.
8. Small Toys
If your children leave small toys strewn about, your cat may decide to dine on them and it won’t be a successful undertaking. Your cat may choke to death, may experience a very uncomfortable intestinal situation and could have problems naturally excreting the foreign object. If you discover that those vital last puzzle pieces or Barbie shoes are missing and you suspect that Ms. Kitty has ingested them, take her to your vet for X-rays to determine where the items are in her system and assess the likelihood that she will be able to expel them without surgical assistance.
9. Lawn Chemicals
Outdoor cats may eat lawn chemicals (fertilizer, plant food) which are toxic. Do not use cocoa mulch which has a chocolate odor and is therefore attractive to both cats and dogs, because it can be lethal if ingested.
10. Glow sticks and other shiny objects
You know that anything that shines is going to be almost irresistible to your kitty so make sure those pointers you use to play with Ms. Kitty are safely stashed when not in use. Also keep glow sticks and other ‘attractive nuisance’ objects away from your cats.
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