Protect Your Cat from Household Hazards

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When was the last time you crawled around your house on your hands and knees? As strange as that may sound, you may want to give it a try sometime – because this is how your cats experience your home much of the time. Things that seem innocuous to us can present a real danger to your cat.

Protecting your cat from hazards in your home is not all that different from child-proofing a house. The following tips can protect your cat from common household hazards.

Appliances

Dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines and especially clothes dryers can all turn into death traps for cats who consider them innovative hiding (or napping) places. Always check before closing doors and starting a cycle.

Hot surfaces

If you have a counters surfer, your stove probably won’t be off limits, either. Make sure that stoves and hotplates are cool to the touch before you let your cats near them.

Household cleaners

Many household cleaners contain contain hazardous ingredients
such as organic solvents and petroleum based chemicals which can release volatile organic compounds into your indoor air. Some ingredients in household cleaners are known to cause cancer in animals and are suspected human carcinogens. Lysol, Pine-sol and other products containing phenols are deadly to cats as they can cause serious liver damage. Chlorox bleach, especially when concentrated, can cause chemical burns when it comes in contact with sensitive cat paws. Use pet-friendly products instead.

Rodent and insect repellents

These products can be deadly to cats if they come into contact with them or ingest them, and they do not belong inside a home shared with cats. Look for natural alternatives.

Blind cords

Shorten or eliminate blind cords, or use childsafe blind cord covers.

Furniture

Rocking chairs, fold-out recliners and sofa beds can trap or injure cats. Always check for cats underneath these pieces before sitting down.

Plants and flowers

Many plants and flowers are toxic to cats. Make sure that you know whether your plants are safe. The ASPCA maintains a list of toxic and non-toxic plants.

Paper shredders

Keep them unplugged when not in use. Curious cat paws can accidentally turn on a plugged in shredder.

Human medications

If you drop a pill on the floor, make sure you find it before your cat can get to it. Store medications in a safe place away from cats.

The most important thing you can to do protect your cat from household hazards is to be mindful. Most accidents in the home happen when we’re not paying attention to what we’re doing.

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons

28 Comments on Protect Your Cat from Household Hazards

  1. Jo P
    August 17, 2015 at 9:19 pm (4 years ago)

    Make sure your furbaby doesn’t eat your fleece blankets.y baby did and had to have emergency surgery to remove from 5 places in his intestine. He then got an infection and had to be on a feeding tube for 2 months. Later infections too. Huge bills. He pulled through, but it was touch and go and expensive. I can’t have fleece nlankets.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 18, 2015 at 6:15 am (4 years ago)

      I’m glad your kitty came through his ordeal, Jo.

      Reply
  2. David
    April 27, 2015 at 1:31 pm (4 years ago)

    When I am washing dishes or cooking, my Buddy will come into the kitchen and lay down right behind my feet. I always look down before taking a step.

    Reply
  3. Kim
    September 10, 2014 at 6:03 pm (5 years ago)

    Thanks for the great article. My tortie loves to go into the dryer when I am folding clothes and also putting clothes from the washer into the dryer. She likes to play hide and seek in there!

    Reply
  4. dragonfly
    April 3, 2013 at 9:53 am (7 years ago)

    did all that with the dog my cats are fine with him as long as he dont want to play as the cats are 13 years old..It is with my husband as they wont come out of the room when the is home the only time when he can pet them is when they are on the bed or want food othere then that they hide under the bed. what should i do to get them to start coming in to the living room .

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      April 3, 2013 at 9:57 am (7 years ago)

      I would suggest working with a behaviorist.

      Reply
  5. dragonfly
    April 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm (7 years ago)

    i know this is not related to this post as i have never had to kitty proof my house as my cats just play with the cabinet doors just to bug my for attention when i go to bed. But what i have been worried about is that i got divorced and had to move back to my moms and my cats came with me well now i am remarried and my new husband has a large dog not really a big deal as my oldest cat dont mind him but the main problem is that they wont come out of my daughters room when my husband is home BUT they will let him pet them if they are on the bed. other then that they hide under the bed till my kids go to bed they dont come out for nothing except to go to the litter box in the bathroom. what can i do to get them to come out of their shell ……HELP!!!!!!

    Reply
  6. Gill Web
    March 30, 2013 at 4:16 am (7 years ago)

    One of my cats once came across a threaded sewing needle that had been dropped and not noticed. He chewed the cotton & I found him with the needle jammed in his mouth and the cotton down his throat. If it had slipped he would surely have died. He was rushed to the vet who had to sedate him to be able to safely remove it, but it was a very scary close call.

    Reply
  7. Brutus Duffy
    March 29, 2013 at 11:30 am (7 years ago)

    I had a cat that found a twig of potpourri that had fallen on the carpet. She passed away. the oils in them are toxic.

    Reply
  8. Maxwell, Faraday & Allie
    March 18, 2013 at 1:21 pm (7 years ago)

    Great list – and we can (sadly) attest to the recliner as a danger. A fellow volunteer lost a foster kitten to one last spring… She was devastated.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      March 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm (7 years ago)

      Oh no – what a horrible thing to have happen!

      Reply
  9. Glogirly and Katie
    June 19, 2012 at 1:19 am (7 years ago)

    This is great Ingrid…I thought I had the whole house Katie-proofed, but after reading your list, realized I’ve got a shredder plugged in! …not anymore. : )
    Glogirly

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 19, 2012 at 5:08 pm (7 years ago)

      I actually learned about the shredder when I had one under my desk at my office at the veterinary clinic, Debbie. I continually turned it on accidentally when I touched my foot to it. I figured if I can turn it on that easily, curious cat paws could, too.

      Reply
  10. Joyce
    June 18, 2012 at 6:42 pm (7 years ago)

    Great summary, I do have to add some:
    Doors, if you have an indecisive cat and a sleepy head, you can easily trap a tail. It happened to me and I’m still traumatized by it. He is currently sleeping on my lap, his tail a bit shorter.
    Windows: Cats do land in their feet most of the time, but you don’t want them flying out trying to be an eagle. This sadly also happened once. He wasn’t injured, but since then I never fully open the windows when he’s upstairs.
    Bags: most cats love to play with (plastic) bags. I only allow that when I’m supervising him, I’d hate to see him get caught in the handles. Same goes for strings and elastics.

    Oh creepers, never realized that I was so overly protective of my cat.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm (7 years ago)

      You’re not overprotective, Joyce – you’re just a normal cat parent! These are all great suggestions. I’lll add one to the windows: if you leave the windows open and have screens, always make sure that screens are secure.

      Reply
  11. Caren Gittleman
    June 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm (7 years ago)

    great post but this just made me even MORE nervous about leaving Cody and Dakota with my husband while I attend BlogPaws.

    Cody isn’t on his “radar” the way Dakota is, and I am forever picking things up that could cause potential harm.

    Pray for my cat please while I am gone! lol

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm (7 years ago)

      LOL Caren! I can totally relate to your anxiety about leaving your babies in your husband’s care.

      Even though my home is as cat-proof as it’s ever going to get, I still find myself walking through with an eagle eye before I go on a trip to “see” things that I might not worry about quite so much when I’m home, but that might become an issue when my girls are in the care of their cat sitter, who comes twice a day. For example, my blind cords are secured with a (soon to be patented, I’m sure…) system using chip clips, and I always make sure my cat sitter knows how to do this!

      Reply
  12. Sammy, One Spoiled Cat
    June 18, 2012 at 9:44 am (7 years ago)

    Such super good information Ingrid…..looking at our surroundings through our cats’ eyes and their perspective makes you see things in a whole different light (and angle). There’s much to consider when making your home safe – especially from the natural curiosity our kitties have! Thanks for reminding us…….

    Pam (and Sam)

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm (7 years ago)

      Thanks, Pam. It’s even more important with young cats, as Allegra and Ruby have taught me in recent years, but even older kitties can get themselves in plenty of trouble.

      Reply
  13. Harry
    June 18, 2012 at 8:34 am (7 years ago)

    Before I was married, guests would open a cabinet or drawer to get something, and give me funny looks when the child locks prevented them. After I got married, and before we had human children, they just always assumed Julie was pregnant. I guess cat-proofing your house was an odd concept in the ’90s. Now we have more cats than ever before, but none are drawer openers, so we no longer have the locks.

    PS – what are “flowers”?

    Reply
    • Alexa
      June 18, 2012 at 12:50 pm (7 years ago)

      To answer your very strange question: flowers are pretty scented plants that often have beautiful petals.

      Reply
      • Ingrid
        June 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm (7 years ago)

        LOL Alexa! I think Harry meant that he’s had cats for so long, he’ given up on having flowers in his home. I can certainly relate – rather than worrying about whether my cats will eat flowers and whether said flowers might be toxic to them, I just don’t have them inside the house anymore.

        Reply
        • Harry
          June 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm (7 years ago)

          Yup 🙂
          Flowers have to be kept in the bathroom, otherwise they end up vomited around the house. For a while, whenever anyone would give us flowers, we had the best decorated bathrooms in the state. Now, we thank them, smile until the donor leaves, and give the flowers to neighbors…

          Reply
          • J. Heckerman
            September 10, 2014 at 2:52 pm (5 years ago)

            Flowers are those things which, sometimes, friends insist we will bring home or even give us on special occasions. They are brought out from their place in our laundry or powder rooms briefly for a day or two and then left behind their closed door until they wilt and are disposed of. Sometimes they arrive in pretty, fragile, invariably top heavy containers which are immediately consigned to a lower kitchen cabinet until they can be given away to cat less friends with flower gardens.

          • Ingrid
            September 10, 2014 at 3:23 pm (5 years ago)

            As much as I love flowers, they get the same treatment at our house, too.

    • Steven Howard
      January 7, 2015 at 6:41 pm (5 years ago)

      Flowers, I am told, are brightly colored chutes at the top of plants. Having several cats, I had only stalks. I think the cats call them “salad.” On another subject, all household chemicals should be locked away, especially windshield washer fluid, antifreeze, and automotive chemicals. I read that the alcohol used to make them often tastes sweet which is appealing to cats.

      Reply
      • Ingrid
        January 8, 2015 at 7:49 am (5 years ago)

        You’re absolutely right, Steven. Antifreeze and other automotive chemicals can be deadly to cats.

        Reply

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