Health Hazards

cat eating a plant
Cat lovers do not like to contemplate the expression “Curiosity killed the cat.” Nonetheless, it is true that cats like to explore and all too often they can encounter serious hazards in their own homes. Cat owners need to assess these dangers so their cats stay safe and happy.

Everyday Hazards

Home owners routinely keep many items around the house that are poisonous to cats. Common signs of poisoning include:

  • Drooling
  • Seizures
  • Heavy, labored breathing
  • Unsteadiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

If you suspect your cat has been poisoned, call your emergency vet immediately.

Chemicals used to kill insects and rodents are also very bad for cats. Household cleaners, fertilizers, antifreeze and medications are also harmful to cats when ingested. All these should be kept in secure places, away from your pets.

Many foods that humans enjoy are bad or even deadly for cats. Onions, raisins, grapes, avocados and chewing gums that contain xylitol are on the forbidden list. Chocolate is poisonous for cats.

Cat owners also need to carefully consider houseplants and those they plant in the yard. Many beautiful flowers, including lilies, poinsettias, foxglove and tulips, can poison your cat. For instance, lilies can cause kidney failure.

Ingesting lead paint, of course, is not good for anyone, including cats.

Holiday Hazards

Some cats are way too interested in holiday decorations. Veterinarians have heard all the tales: cats that climb a Christmas tree, only to be injured when the tree topples; the tinsel-gobbler who gets a perforated intestine; the cat shocked by chewing on the electric wires of Christmas lights; the ornament-smacker who endures a scolding because she broke a family heirloom.

Don’t set your cat up for disaster. Instead, solidly anchor your Christmas tree. Hang inexpensive, cat-friendly toys made of cloth or straw on the lower branches, securing them with cloth loops rather than sharp wires. Spray your tree with a cat deterrent, such as peppermint oil, Tabasco or wasabi.


While some cats are party animals, many are more reserved and prefer to guard their privacy. A big get-together might spook them. Be sure that your cat has a safe, secure place to hide out. Parties are especially dangerous for indoor cats. Careless and sometimes inebriated guests are more likely to leave a door open and provide the party-hating cat with a tempting escape route.

Call our office today if your cat has been the victim of a household hazard. Or, better yet, ask us for more prevention tips when you come in for a regular checkup.


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