Cats and Yarn:
They Don't Mix
What's more adorable than a playful kitten and a ball of yarn?
Actually, the scenario is a dangerous one. Cats often swallow yarn, tinsel, string, thread, ribbons and other elongated materials that can cause serious damage to the intestinal tract.
"I once removed a fistful of ribbons from a cat's stomach," says Steve Dullard, DVM, of the Ancare Veterinary Clinic in Mendota, Illinois. "And no one was aware that the cat had even been around ribbons." This doesn't mean your cat can't play with these items; just make sure you supervise closely and don't leave your cat alone with them.
There are common household items that could prove deadly to your cat.
Here's what to look for.
You may think you went through enough when you baby-proofed your home to prepare for the new arrival. "But any issue that is important for your baby's safety also holds true for a cat," says Steve Dullard, DVM, president-elect of the American Association of Feline Practitioners. Therefore, it's just as important to take steps to make your home as safe as possible for your cat or kitten.
Watch out for Windows
Contrary to what many people believe, cats do jump or fall from high places - and they do get injured, sometimes seriously. Make sure your window screens are securely fastened. Cats can squeeze through remarkably small spaces, so don't leave your windows open even a small amount. If you let your cat out on a terrace, make sure you supervise him. Cats, as agile as they are, can fall from a railing if they leap at a passing bird.
Even if you live on the first floor, your cat can jump off the railing or wriggle through the bars and escape outdoors - which then puts your cat at great risk for injuries from cars and other outside hazards.
Everything in the Mouth
Think of your inquisitive cat or kitten as a small child: Anything that attracts them will go into the mouth. This includes paper clips, carpet tacks, pins, coins and the small parts of kids' toys. If your cat gets hold of these objects, they may become lodged in her throat or swallowed and caught in the intestines.
You must also be very careful regarding medicines and cats. Human drugs can be very toxic to felines. "Never give a medicine meant for a human to a cat before consulting your veterinarian," says Dr. Dullard. Keep all medicines in tightly closed containers and in a cabinet out of reach of a curious cat who likes to jump on counters and sinks. If you drop a pill on the floor, sweep it up immediately. "One TylenolŪ or ibuprofen tablet can kill a cat," says Dr. Dullard. "TylenolŪ causes a condition in which the cat's blood cannot carry oxygen, while ibuprofen can cause severe gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage and seizures and tremors."
Household products are also a concern. Don't use toilet bowl cleansers if there's the slightest chance your cat may drink from the toilet. Keep cleaning agents, fabric softener sheets, pesticides, paints and varnishes locked up and away from your cat's curious forays. The same goes for poisonous substances you may keep in your basement, including windshield cleaners, weed and rodent killers and used motor oils. Many cats are attracted to the sweet taste of antifreeze, containing the chemical ethylene glycol, which is so toxic "that it can poison your cat if she walks through a puddle of antifreeze and merely licks it off her paws."
Beware of feeding your cat chocolate which contains the chemical theobromine. It can cause vomiting, seizures and cardiac arrest in cats.
Remove Harmful Plants
Cats do like plants and that can be a problem for you and your cat. While some plants are safe to have around the house, many are not. Plants can cause anything from vomiting and diarrhea to renal failure and even death. Get a complete list of poisonous plants from your veterinarian. In particular, watch out for these plants: Tiger lily, Easter lily, holly berries, hibiscus, mistletoe, philodendron, amaryllis and plants of the nightshade family. Cover the soil of potentially harmful plants with aluminum foil to prevent your cat from digging in it, decreasing the chances of your cat then turning to the plant as a treat. As an alternative, grow a pot of lawn grass for your cat to chew on.
Some Extra Precautions
According to the National Safety Council, about 5000 fires a years are caused by pets chewing electrical cords. Tack extension cords against a baseboard or run them under a carpet so your cat won't chew or play with them. And never leave your cat alone in the house with lighted candles.
Want to save your lamps and pottery? Attach some skid-proof adhesives on the bottom of objects so your cat can't break your favorite things when he goes sliding across tables and counters. This also protects your cat from stepping in broken glass and ceramics after the deed is done.
By Ilene Springer
last updated Nov. 15, 2006 report a problem with this page to Webmaster.