The Most Common Household Hazards For Cats

Cute ginger cat siting on window sill and waiting for something. Fluffy pet looks in window.
credit: Konstantin Aksenov/iStock/GettyImages

Family is all about caring for and protecting our loved ones, but within the seemingly safe sanctuary of your home lurk potential dangers for your feline family members. According to VCA Hospitals, cats lack certain liver enzymes which affect their liver metabolism, thus making them more sensitive to drugs, as well as chemicals that are found not only in household products but also many foods and plants. Everything from obvious dangers, such as pesticides, rodenticides, marijuana, and toxic cleansers, to lesser-known and seemingly innocuous things like fatty foods, salt, yeast dough, and even tea are poisonous to cats.

Cats' iconic curiosity, agility, and relatively small body size also make them more susceptible to hazards as they are likely to explore every nook and cranny of your home, often coming into contact with substances you thought were safely stored. Keep in mind, cats have the uncanny ability to open cabinet doors and drawers, and pillaging the trashcan is a breeze for most cats where they can often find poultry and other soft bones that splinter and get stuck in their esophagus. To make matters worse, if a cat is poisoned, ill, or hurt, they generally hide, and you may not be able to help them until it's too late. So be proactive and err on the side of caution by carefully identifying any hazards in your home and remove them altogether, or at least make them inaccessible to your inquisitive, little friend.

Here are the top common household hazards that should either be eliminated from your cat's environment or stored safely away behind locked doors.

Objects a cat might ingest

Not only are drugs, cleaning products, pesticides, and certain foods a threat to cats in the home, but a host of other common household hazards can cause problems for your curious kitty's digestive tract necessitating surgical removal of the object. Among these are small items that may fall on the floor, such as buttons, children's toys or toy parts, nails, coins, cotton balls, string, dental floss, thread, yarn, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, plastic tabs from food packaging, jewelry, and much more.

Toys specifically designed for cats, including homemade ones, should only be allowed under supervision since your cat can inadvertently or purposefully consume toy parts.

Kitten playing with ball and feathers
credit: dentharg/iStock/GettyImages

Also, your kitten or adult cat may decide to chew on electrical cords, so using cord covers and blocking access to the wires is the safest choice to prevent electrocution or burns.

Blinds with cords present not only a strangulation hazard, but cords can also get wrapped around a cat's body parts, such as limbs, torso, and paws. If not discovered on time, the cord becomes a tourniquet and cuts off blood circulation to that part. Cat owners should always choose cordless blinds or curtains for window coverings.

Plants that are poisonous to cats

  • Even two or three petals or leaves, or the pollen of true lilies: tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter, and Japanese show lilies and Gloriosa lilies.
  • Lily of the Valley, oleander, yew, foxglove, and kalanchoe.
  • Sago palms.
  • Azaleas, rhododendrons, and tulip/narcissus bulbs.
  • Castor bean, cyclamen, amaryllis, chrysanthemums, pothos, English ivy, philodendron, corn plant, mother-in-law's tongue, hibiscus, hydrangea, peace lily, and Schefflera.
  • Rhubarb leaves and shamrock.
  • Poinsettia, holly, and mistletoe.

Foods that are poisonous to cats

  • Fatty, rich, and spicy foods your cat is served or steals from the trash.
  • Chocolate
  • Soft carcass bones.
  • Grapes, raisins, and avocado.
  • Products containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener.
  • Alcohol.
  • Onions and garlic.
  • Coffee grounds.
  • Macadamia nuts.
Cute little cat with green eyes
credit: MilanEXPO/iStock/GettyImages

Drugs, chemicals and sundries that are poisonous to cats

  • Narcotics and marijuana pose a life-threatening risk to your cat.
  • Human prescription drugs.
  • Overdosing or misusage of drugs prescribed for your cat.
  • Insecticides containing pyrethrins or pyrethroids (in tick and flea medications for dogs).
  • Rodenticides (rat and mice poison).
  • Gasoline.
  • Antifreeze.
  • Weed killers (herbicides).
  • Paint.
  • Mineral spirits.
  • Polyurethane adhesives.
  • Common kitchen and bath surface cleaners, carpet cleaners, and toilet bowl cleaners.
  • Treated toilet water.
  • Plant, flower, and lawn fertilizers.
  • Ice-melting products.
  • Mothballs and potpourri products.
  • Toothpaste, hand soap, and sunscreen.

If your cat does ingest any of these things, the Pet Poison Helpline is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680.