Your indoor cat may be protected from outdoor perils such as being struck by a moving vehicle, sustaining bite wounds from other animals and being poisoned by gardening and pool chemicals, but there are dangers that lurk throughout a home's interior too. As the old adage states, curiosity can kill a cat. So it is up to you to protect your cat from hazards and to redirect her curiosity to safer objects of exploration. You may already be familiar with many common indoor hazards, such as plants, cleaning products, medications and rodenticides, but a few other things that can endanger your cat may give you pause. Just when you thought that your home was kitty proof, find out what else you should be aware of to keep your feline friend safe.
Glow Sticks and Jewelry
The popular neon wands, necklaces and bracelets that are sold at many outdoor evening events bring smiles to your children's faces. The delight is doubled when they discover that the cat loves to play with them by swatting and chewing at these colorful marvels. However, dibutyl phthalate, the chemical substance that is contained in glow sticks and jewelry, can cause extreme salivation, mouth and skin irritation, gagging and vomiting if ingested, so using these items as cat toys should be strongly discouraged, and they should be stashed out of your cat's reach. For safer interactive play with your cat, opt instead for a laser pointer toy, which can be purchased in any pet supply shop.
You probably know that if a pet ingests a large object, she can potentially suffer from a foreign body obstruction. While this is more commonly seen in dogs that have a propensity for swallowing balls, rocks and socks, cats tend to experience another life-threatening calamity by ingesting linear foreign bodies, or stringy things. When the end of the ingested string becomes caught around the cat's tongue or at one end of the intestinal tract, the intestine becomes strangulated and it bunches up like an accordion. Be sure to keep these items corralled into secure storage that your cat cannot access:
- Ponytail holders
- Rubber bands
- Fishing line
- Twisty ties
Keep all sewing and crafting supplies securely stowed, and supervise your cat when she plays with toys that have strings or feathers. You should also periodically inspect household linens, such as curtains, tablecloths, hanging bath towels and bed covers, for frayed edges and hanging threads that could entice your curious cat to play and nibble.
In lieu of keeping live flowers in your home, many of which can be toxic to cats when ingested, you may turn to other means of infusing floral scents into a room. But be aware that liquid potpourri contains essential oils and detergents that are also toxic to your cat if she decides to sample it from the simmering dish. If her curious paw knocks the potpourri dish over and the liquid spills on her fur, she can also ingest the toxins when she grooms herself. Once ingested, the chemicals cause severe irritation in the mouth, esophagus and gastrointestinal tract. The chemicals also cause painful irritation and ulceration to the skin, and if any of it meets with your cat's eyes, corneal damage can result.
If you or a family member is a baking enthusiast, keep in mind that some commonly used baking ingredients can be hazardous to your cat's health. You probably already know about the toxic threats of chocolate, raisins and nuts, but the following ingredients can also be detrimental:
- Baking powder, which causes abnormal electrolyte levels
- Baking soda, which also causes abnormal electrolyte levels
- Yeast dough, which can cause alcohol poisoning and swell to several times its original size within your cat's stomach
- Nutmeg, which can cause neurological symptoms, seizure activity and death
- Raw eggs, which can cause bacterial food poisoning and restrict the body's ability to absorb biotin
When baking, discourage your cat from standing by to fill the role of sous chef by sequestering her in another room with a cat treat dispenser puzzle toy to keep her attention, paws and palate occupied.
Admittedly, everyone is aware that a lit stove is a potential burn hazard for all household members, but what about after you shut off the range and walk away? You probably already know to close dryer doors after folding your laundry to prevent your cat from seeking out a warm napping zone within and potentially falling victim to tragedy next time the dryer is loaded and run. But do you know that an electric stove, including smooth glass top ranges, also presents a hazard after your cooking project is concluded and you have presented the pot of stew to the dinner table? Whether a cat is attracted to the warmth that continues to radiate from a recently turned off stove or to the aromas that linger in the stove's vicinity, one jump onto the hot surface can result in severe burns on her sensitive paw pads. Gas ranges tend to cool quickly once they are turned off, but some electric stovetops remain hot for several minutes. Consider swapping out the cooking pot with another pot that is filled with cool water to sit on the vacated burner until it has cooled completely.
If your cat has sustained a burn, shock or other injury in your home, do not wait to contact your veterinarian. If you suspect that she ingested a potentially toxic substance or a foreign body, seek veterinary attention at an emergency animal clinic, such as Animal Emergency Clinic, immediately. If you are uncertain about whether or not a product or plant in your home is toxic, consult with your veterinarian or with the Pet Poison Helpline before tragedy strikes.