October is Animal Safety month and I’m doing my part by letting you in on some lesser known health hazards for cats. You would probably be surprised what can pose a danger to your feline friend. We’ll start with the obvious ones and work our way down.
1. Medications, vitamins, pest control products, lead, lighter fluid, moth balls, air fresheners, fly tape and tobacco products should all be stored out of reach. (Out of reach can mean many things, depending on your cats. For us, up or in upper cabinets are fine because our cats aren’t jumpers/climbers.) These things can all cause serious injury to death depending on how much is ingested.
2. Batteries, coins, cotton balls/swabs, hair pins, jewelry, nylons, paper clips, plastic wrap, wax and string, floss or rubber bands of any kind are NOT toys for your pet. Make extra effort to ensure these are picked up. I am especially paranoid about strings and rubber bands. We had a cat once that got the string wrapped around the back of its tongue and had swallowed the rest. We only noticed something was wrong because it wasn’t eating. After a major surgery to cut open the intestines every few inches to remove the string (that left untreated, will bind and eventually tear your buddie’s intestines up) the cat was ok, but never quite right.
3. Not all ‘people food’ is safe. Never give your cat Xylitol sweetened products, onions, raw yeast, alcohol, macadamia nuts, tea leaves, avocados, chocolate, grapes or raisins.
4. If you have a garden or indoor plants, avoid having any of these around your cats: Aloe, Amaryllis, All Lillies, Asparagus, Crocus, Azalea, Bird of Paradise, Bittersweet, Belladonna, Ivy, Daffodils, Elephant ears, ferns, Foxglove, Gladiolas, Honeysuckle, Hyacinth, Hydrangea, Iris, Morning Glory, Narcissus, Nightshade, Rhododendron, Tulips, Wisteria and Yucca. Most cats will leave these plants alone, but they can be toxic if they decide to start munching on them.
5. If you let your cat outside, be mindful of predators, gates and fences where they could get caught, swimming pools and standing bodies of water, vehicle fluids and garden chemicals/compost. As the weather gets colder, we need to be extra careful with adding anti-freeze. Anti-freeze usually comes with a bittering agent, but be careful not to spill it onto the ground. Some of it can actually smell and taste good to animals. Another cold weather consideration is de-icer. If you use it on your walkways where your cat walks, get a pet friendly option.
5. Holiday Hazards; there are many. During Halloween, keep your black cats indoors a few days before and after. Some sick people out there torture and kill black cats or use them in cruel pranks. Thanksgiving treats are fine, but no bones. Most poultry bones fracture and can cause internal injury. Keep an eye out for Christmas plants like Christmas Rose, Holly and Mistletoe. Avoid tinsel, breakable ornaments, angel hair and bubbling lights (older versions contain methylene chloride, which is highly toxic).
6. Finally, keep an eye on your cat near the fireplace/stove. Sometimes, they will get this fantastic idea to jump on top of the stove. They will quickly figure out this was a bad life choice and never do it again, but they can burn their pads pretty badly in short order.