6 min read

The Things In Your House You Never Knew Could Hurt Your Cat

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I spend all day writing about animals. I know about so many of the dangers of this or that on this or that pet. I take every possible precaution ... or so I thought.

Occasionally, I still come home to some mysterious object that's been ingested and regurgitated by my own cat, Brioche. The most recent incident involved the fringe on a scarf I'd carelessly left dangling off the bed, thinking it would be safe from curious cat jaws.

Brioche disagreed.

Sarah V. Schweig

After she threw it up, I traced the purple strings back to some missing tassels in the scarf. Meanwhile, a concerned Fyodor, always the neat freak, walked over and politely pointed out to me that the mess Brioche had made needed cleaning up. He daintily tried cover up the mangled pile of fringe with his little paw.

We can all be better at saving our cats from their own curiosity. After shutting all oh-so-tempting stringed things away in my closet, I asked the experts for tips how to keep cats safe. Here's what they said:

Keep Chemical-Filled Things Away From Prying Paws.

"All pet owners need to remember that what's safe for our species isn't necessarily safe, or safe in the same concentrations, for animals," K.C. Theisen, director of pet care issues for the Humane Society of the United States, told The Dodo. "Cats especially are curious explorers and want to crawl into new spaces like closets and cabinets. If you own cats, you need to learn about what's toxic for cats and make sure your storage for those items is secured against prying paws."

Even everyday materials left out can be dangerous - possibly fatal. One horror story involves potpourri oil that spilled on a pet cat, who then tried to groom it off and ended up in an oxygen tent in the animal hospital; the chemicals poisoned her whole body.

Even Dryer Sheets Can Harm Feline Family Members.

Another seemingly harmless and common household product can actually cause a lot of problems for your cat: dryer sheets. "Dryer sheets contain benzyl acetate, benzyl alcohol, ethanol, a-terpineol and ethyl acetate," Dr. Robert Proietto, a veterinarian in New York City, told The Dodo. Products containing these kinds of chemicals should be kept in a safe place where your pets can't get to them.

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This can be hard when you're a cat lover. "Cats can get into lots of things around the house because it is difficult for us to keep them from jumping onto counters, desks and shelves," Proietto admitted.

Cover Trash Bins ... And Cover Them Well.

Proietto cautioned that one of the common things cats get into is dental floss.

"These strings are fun to play with and if ingested can get caught under their tongue or in their intestines and cause what we call a 'string foreign body.' These can cause a great deal of damage to the intestines and require surgery if they do get caught," Proietto said. "It is very important to have a covered trash can to dispose of dental floss and other string-like material around the house."

So, remember: Keep strings, rubber bands and all chemical-filled items in closed cupboards where your cat can't access them.

Believe me: I'll be doing the same.

Learn more about unsafe products here.

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