6 Things in Your Home That Are Surprisingly Dangerous for Your Cat

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In general, cats show remarkable disdain for most of the household objects that could be dangerous to them, preferring to lounge comfortably on the corner of their owners' desks, judging them silently for not getting that report to the boss on time.

However, there are things in your house that can be dangerous to your cat, and knowing what they are can help you avoid a serious injury or illness to your feline friend.

Strings

As the proud owner of a brand new kitten, one of the worst toys you can choose for him is a ball of yarn, or string of any kind. I know, I know – we can all picture the adorable ball of fur batting the ball of yarn around the room.

But teaching kittens that it's OK to play with strings leaves them open to probably the greatest gastrointestinal "foreign body" – meaning something's in there that shouldn't be – risk there is for a cat. While dogs happily swallow non-food objects of all kinds, cats are choosier about what they swallow. And the really scary thing about strings is that typically the cat doesn't really mean to swallow it, but it gets stuck in the mouth, they can't spit it out, so they just keep pulling it in.

Strings in a cat's intestines act like the drawstring in the waistband of a pair of sweatpants. The GI tract is trying its best to move the string through, but the intestines keep bunching up around the string. Ultimately, this creates a blockage, and sometimes the sawing action of the string – back and forth, back and forth – cuts through the intestines, spilling their contents into the abdomen and causing life-threatening consequences.

So save you and your cat a lot of trouble and keep all strings – including sewing thread and tinsel during the holiday – out of reach. And never, ever, attempt to pull a string out of your cat's butt. Take him to your vet immediately.

Lilies

If every veterinarian had a dollar every time a helpful layperson tried to tell them how toxic poinsettias are to cats, we'd likely all be able to pay off our student loan debt. It seems that little nugget of misinformation is pervasive throughout the pet-owning population, and most people are missing the real deadly decorative holiday houseplant – lilies.

Lilies are so toxic, in fact, it's possible your cat doesn't even have to chew on the plant to get ill. Cats only have to get the pollen from the lilies on their fur and ingest a little of it through routine grooming in order to put themselves into kidney failure. We don't understand how much of the plant it takes to cause kidney failure, but it seems that it can happen with even a small amount.

Rodents

OK, maybe you don't have rodents living in your house. But cats who are "mousers" are often highly desired by people with barns and warehouses. But while cats may find rats and mice tasty (eeeewwww) ingesting them can be harmful for a couple of reasons.

Mice and rats that have ingested a sufficient amount of rat poison may have enough of the poison still in their bodies to transfer the toxic effects to a cat that consumes it. The rodent would have to have consumed a fairly large dose, but cats are small and it doesn't take much rat poison to affect them.

Rodents can also carry tapeworm eggs in their muscle tissue, so ingestion of one of these rodents can transmit the infection to the cat – certainly less serious than consuming rat poison, but tapeworms must be treated appropriately, and if you have a cat who's a mouser it's a good idea to deworm for tapeworms on a regular basis.

Window shade cords

This one seems to affect rambunctious kittens, who love to climb. More than one has become entangled in the cords to window shades or blinds, and if they struggle sufficiently this can ultimately cause strangulation. So if you have a kitten at home and you must leave him unattended for some time, it's a good idea to roll up the cords to window shades so that they're short enough not to hang and become an enticement.

Clothes dryers

The warmth of the clothes dryer on a cold winter's day has attracted many a cat. They climb inside and settle down for a nap – no harm done, unless someone turns on the dryer, not realizing the cat was napping inside.

If you've got a cat it's a good idea to make a family rule that the door to the dryer stays closed when it's not in use, to preempt any chance of a cat getting inside.

Potting soil

Some studies have claimed that as much as 30% of commercial potting soil – the stuff most of your houseplants are sitting in – contains parasite eggs. It's questionable as to just how viable these eggs would be, and whether ingestion by a cat would cause an infestation of intestinal parasites. However, it's probably a good idea to discourage your cat in general from digging in the houseplants, and since many houseplants can cause oral irritation and/or gastrointestinal distress when ingested by cats, keep them off the floor and away from areas that your cat frequents.

Written by PetCoach Editorial September 12, 2018
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