Cat-Proofing Tips for Your Home

Having a new cat at home is a lot like having a toddler. Household cleaners, some houseplants and other objects can all pose a threat to cats and kittens.

Common household items that can be dangerous/toxic to cats

1. Aluminum Foil / Corks, etc.
Cats may love to play with an aluminum foil ball or cork on a string, but these objects can kill. If lodged in the throat, your cat could strangle; if chewed or partially eaten, they can cause intestinal blockage. Cellophane (including wrappers on cigarette packages) can turn “glassy” in a cat’s stomach and cause a painful death.

2. Strings / Yarn, etc.
Never leave a cat alone with string or yarn (including string that ties up meat). These are easily swallowed and can cause strangulation, intestinal blockage or even death. Don’t be fooled by pictures of kittens playing with a ball of yarn.

3. Rubber Bands
Cats love to tug on rubber bands—but any size rubber band is dangerous and can be fatal if swallowed. A safe policy is to keep rubber bands in a drawer or container where your cat won’t see or find them.

4. Medicines / Sharp Objects
Never give a cat any aspirin (even children’s aspirin) or Tylenol. Avoid “home remedies” and consult your vet. Keep straight/safety pins and sewing needles out of reach.

5. Poisonous Plants – Poinsettias, Dieffenbachia, Azaleas, Lilies, Mistletoe, Holly, Amaryllis, Hibiscus
Other plants to avoid: philodendron, ivy (English ivy), chrysanthemums, castor bean, rhubarb (leaves), buttercups, cherry (twigs, leaves, roots and fleshy parts), jonquil (bulbs), poison ivy, privet, lily-of-the-valley (leaves, flowers, roots), mushrooms, narcissus (bulbs), Star of Bethlehem (bulb), oak (acorns, young shoots and leaves), oleander, sumac, sweet pea (seeds and pods), rosary pea (shiny red and black seeds), potatoes (especially the eye and any sprouts from the eye – the “potato” as we cook it is okay), apricot and peach (pits).

6. Cleaning Fluids / Rodent & Bug Killers
Although most cats avoid chemicals because of their smell, there is always a chance your cat will take an experimental taste. One lick can be fatal. As with children, keep all chemicals, paints, poisons, cleaning fluids, etc., tightly capped and out of reach.

Use products indicating “safe for pets” for garden slugs/snails.
Do not use bug killer in powder form – your cat could walk through it and lick his paws. Do not use “roach cakes” or other edible killing tablets.

If a cat toy comes in contact with insecticide, throw it away immediately – poison can retain its killing power for indefinite periods of time.

A professional exterminator can help you rid your home or apartment of bugs or rodents with minimum danger to your cat. Tell him you have a cat. Then remove your pet and his food/water dishes from the house during spraying and until all rooms are aired out afterwards.

More poisons
Check bottles for combinations of words having phenol in the spelling (examples of phenol products: Lysol, some mouthwashes, calamine lotion, soaps and detergents containing hexachlorophene.

  • Coal Tar Products: Pine Sol and Tegrin.
  • Acids and Bases: includes powdered bleach, Clorox and ammonia.
  • Miscellaneous: crayons, lime fertilizers, broken fluorescent bulbs, furniture polish, cloth dyes, paint and varnish remover, dishwashing compounds.
  • Use “safe for pets” antifreeze.

Animal Poison Control Center
Supported by the ASPCA, the APCC is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

If you think that your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call: (888) 426-4435

A consultation fee may be applied to your credit card. Visit their website for more information.

When you call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at (888) 426-4435, it’s most helpful to be ready with the following information:

  • The species, breed, age, sex, weight and number of animals involved.
  • The animal’s symptoms.
  • Information regarding the exposure, including the agent (if known), the amount of the agent involved and the time elapsed since the time of exposure.

Have the product container/packaging available for reference. Collect in a sealable plastic bag any material your pet may have vomited or chewed. If you suspect that your pet may have become exposed to a harmful substance, but is not showing signs of illness, stay calm! Contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center hotline at (888) 426-4435 first. Not all exposure situations require an immediate trip to the clinic.

If your animal is having seizures, losing consciousness, is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing, telephone ahead and bring your pet immediately to your local veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic. If necessary, he or she may call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

Local Emergency Veterinary Clinics:

Animal Emergency & Trauma Center, Poulsbo (360) 697-7771 or (206) 842-6684

VCA Central Kitsap Animal Hospital, Poulsbo (360) 692-6162