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Common Household & Holiday Hazards

Live Plants 
Household Products & Medications
Personal Care Items 

Bones & Fat & Bread Dough
Chocolate &  Cigarettes & Potpourri 
Small Items & Plastic bags
Windows and Blinds

Electric Cords and Fires

Christmas Trees & Dreidels

There are some hazards lurking in the normal household for the curious, active cat. Just as people child proof a house when they have small children, there are many dangers that are not readily apparent to consider to cat proof against  in the home to protect your pet.

Holiday time offers even more challenge. While you are busy making your festive plans for a festive Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas, please don't forget to minimize the hazards for your cat.  Give your cat the gift of your special thoughtfulness on the Holiday and prevent a Holiday being remembered as a time that a tragedy occurred in the future. Once you know the hazards, a little precaution and prevention will make holidays a happy time for everyone.

Live Plants
Lilies, Christmas rose, mistletoe, poinsettia and star-of-Bethlehem that are often used for Holiday decorating can be lethal. Holly and mistletoe are extremely poisonous to the cat.. The lovely poinsettia may not be truly poisonous, but its milky white sap and leaves can certainly cause severe gastric distress. Other poisonous plants include philodendron, dieffenbachia, elephant ear, eucalyptus, spider plants, azalea, ivy, amaryllis, pyracantha, oleander, boxwood, Jerusalem cherry and plant bulbs and many more including Aloe arborescens (Aloe Vera) . With so many hybrid varieties available each year, the safest approach is to keep all plants out of your pet's reach. If in doubt, check with your veterinarian!

Household Products & Medications
Cleaning agents, bleach, ammonia, disinfectants, drain cleaner, oven cleaner, paint, gasoline and especially rat poison an be quite toxic. For the safety of your cat, keep them stored where the cat cannot get at them. Also, Lysol, Pinesol and  other cleaners may be dangerous if used anywhere around a cat. Cats are VERY sensitive to many chemicals and other substances that are safe for people and dogs. This sensitivity can lead to the substances having a toxic effect, often fatal, in the cat. The following list is only meant as a guideline. The active substances or categories of substance are listed below, with examples of where they are found in parentheses. It is not all-inclusive, so please call a veterinarian about any drugs before you give them to your cat. Please read the labels of all household and outdoor chemicals you have before you use them to make sure the following substances are not in the ingredients. If you suspect that your cat has been exposed to a poisonous substance, please contact your veterinarian or the National Animal Poison Control Hotline immediately.

   Allergy, Blood pressure and Cold relief  medications
  (Benadryl, Pseudoephedrine, Phenylpropanolamine)
   Analgesic: Acetaminophen (Tylenol)  and Ibuprofen (Advil)
   Arsenic (ant/roach poisons, herbicides, wood preservatives)
   Chlorpyrifos (Durakill)
   Cholecalciferol (Ortho Mouse B-Gone, Rampage, Quintox,
  Rat B-Gone
   Ethylene glycol (antifreeze, washer fluids, film processing  solutions)
   Fleet Enemas
   Isopropyl Alcohol (skin lotions, hair tonics, window cleaners,
  after-shave  lotions)
   Ketoprofen (arthritis relief medication)
   Lead (paint, linoleum, putty, golf balls, lubricants, drapery weights,
   Metaldehyde (snail/slug/rat poisons)
   Nicotine (cigarettes, cigars, stop smoking patches, chewing tobacco)
   Organophosphates (insecticides, flea shampoos & dips)
   Phenols (Lysol, Spic-n-Span) * * * * *
   Pine Oil & Fumes (Pine Sol) * * * * *
   Pesticides (2,4-D)
   Rose Fertilizer
   Zinc (pennies, calamine lotion, fertilizers)

Phenols and Pine Oils (as in Pine Sol) evaporate to the air and may be harmful if breathed by your cat. It is much safer to avoid using any cleaning agent that ends with "-OL" or contains phenols or Pine oils in the home.

Personal Care Items
Cosmetics, shampoos, skin creams, hair "perm" solutions, depilatories, suntan lotions can all be lethal to pets.

Bones and Fat and Bread Dough
Turkey or chicken bones as a treat can turn into a surgical emergency. They can splinter and cause serious injury. Those fried dishes, gravies, and poultry skin can cause severe gastrointestinal upset as well. Steak bones, rib bones, chicken and turkey bones can splinter. Small bones or bone chips can lodge in the throat, stomach and intestinal tract. Please ask your veterinarian for recommendations or ask a salesperson at your pet supply store. As a precaution, keep your garbage can secure from your cats' access. At Holiday time or anytime, the turkey or chicken or potatoes latkes (etc) may tantalize your pet, but instead of a treat from the table, give your cat a treat intended specifically for cats.

Don't be tempted to let your cat sample bread dough when you bake. When bread dough is ingested, an animal's body heat causes the dough to rise in the stomach. As alcohol is produced during the rising process, the dough expands. Pet's who've eaten bread dough may experience abdominal pain, bloat, vomiting, disorientation and depression.

Chocolate & Cigarettes & PotPourri
Do keep chocolates and all tobacco products safely our of reach of your cat. Chocolate contains theobromine, a powerful stimulant that is toxic to pets. Also sweets, cakes and cookies can upset a young animal's gastrointestinal tract and lead to diarrhea and vomiting with resultant serious problems. The nicotine in cigarettes can be poison for a cat.

Hot Surfaces
Watch out for hot irons, coffee pots, stove elements and space heaters. Cats can jump to amazing heights. And always use a fireplace screen. Cats love warmth so much, they'll sit on stoves, radiators and furnaces! But excessive heat can dry out their skin, and some cats even get burned without realizing it. Keep hot areas covered or off limits to your cat if possible.

Small Items and Plastic Bags
If any or all of something will fit in your cat's mouth, it is potentially dangerous. Watch out for cigarette butts, rubber bands, balloons, sewing needles, thread, string, ribbons. discarded dental floss and even pantyhose. Remember that what goes in must come out, sometimes via surgery.

Plastic bags are attractive to cats; plastic seems to be a magnet for them. Do remember that cats, like children, can suffocate, so keep them safe from your cat's explorations.

Windows & Blinds
Cats love to look out windows. However,  if they become interested in a bird or squirrel or flying insect outside the home, they have been known to jump out windows, even from great heights. Sad to say, contrary to popular belief, cats don't always land on their feet!  Keep windows closed or securely screened to keep your cat safely inside. The long cords from blinds, especially those which loop back up, can entrap a cat's neck and result in injury or death. So either clip the cords short and reach, get blinds with plastic rods that act instead of the cords, or consider shades or curtains instead! 

Wire and Fires: Electrical Cords, Candles & Fireplaces
Young, teething cats (and even some older ones) love to chew. Keep electrical wires out of reach or use a stick deodorant liberally smeared on the electrical wires (it tastes terrible) . Keep multiples of electric cords bundled together and squared away from your "fierce feline stalker of snakes". Holiday times may bring the thought of candles or sparkling tree lights, but may it also bring thoughts of what hazards these bring. Unenclosed and unweighted candles have no safe place around a cat. Lighted candles are dangerous when left unattended even without a cat. That is even more important if left at kitty's eye level or within a chewing zone. Beware the exuberant tail, a swat of a paw! Candles and hot wax can quickly become disastrous in their presence. Anchor candles securely and away from paws and tails and curious faces. A fireplace screen may not be enough to protect some cats, a glass folding door and a screen on the fireplace secures the fire away from your feline well.

Christmas Trees & Dreidels
Make sure your tree is very well secured. You may need to anchor the top of the tree to the wall using strong cord or rope. Preservatives used in the water in a tree stand can cause gastric upsets, so be sure such fluid reservoirs are totally inaccessible or that the preservatives are not used. Avoid sugar and aspirin additives in the water as well. Check around holiday trees and boughs frequently. Ingested pine needles can puncture your pet's intestines if sharp enough. Sharp or breakable ornaments, dreidels, and even aluminum foil and wrapping paper shreds should be kept out of reach. String objects, especially tinsel and ribbons, are to be safeguarded at all costs. They are thin and sharp and can wrap around intestines or ball up in the stomach. Some wrapping paper may contain harmful toxins.. (With everyone coming and going, watch out for open doors!. Ask guests to keep an eye out for pets under foot and remind them that sometimes your normally friendly cat may be less than willing to deal with enthusiastic children and rooms full of unfamiliar people. Provide a special, quiet place with bedding, food, fresh water, and easy cat litter accessibility for your pets to retreat to when the festivities get too stressful.... a room to themselves may be a blessing of peace for their holiday.

Poison Control Emergency Information and A Pet Owners Guide to Common Small animal Poisons

In a life and death situation when every minute counts for an animal, you can call the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center for 24-hour emergency information at 888-4ANI-HELP.



Poisonous Substances to Cats


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