Common Household Items That Can Be Hazardous for Your Cat

More on PawNation: Cats, Expert, Safety

You know what they say about curiosity and cats. Well, that's not far from the truth in some cases. Cats do tend to be curious creatures, choosing to play with or chew on things that perhaps they shouldn't. Let's talk about some of things that can get cats into trouble.

sweet domestic cat

Credit: Mira Arnaudova / Shutterstock

One of the quintessential pictures of a cat is that of playing with a ball of yarn or string. Certainly, some yarn or string can keep a cat entertained for hours. But there's also a dark side to this obsession. Cats that ingest string, yarn, or similar linear objects can suffer from severe intestinal damage. These foreign bodies can cause intestinal obstructions or even perforations that can be life-threatening. Sometimes the string actually gets looped around the tongue before being swallowed, anchoring it in place in the mouth as the rest of the foreign body (e.g., the string) attempts to move through the intestinal tract. This can cause even more damage.

Like string and yarn, cats also like to play with other objects that dangle and/or swing. This interest may include electrical cords. Needless to say, biting into an electrical cord can have a serious effect on an unsuspecting feline. In the best of circumstances, a painful electrical shock may occur. Worst case scenario is a fatal electrocution. I've seen cats that have survived but sustained serious burns and damage to teeth and other mouth structures.

There are a number of plants and flowers that can be dangerous for your cat. These toxic plants and flowers may be found in the home as potted plants or in bouquets containing cut flowers. At the top of the list of toxic plants is the lily. All true lilies are extremely poisonous for your cat, so much so that I would not even recommend keeping them in a household with cats. All parts of the lily are considered to be toxic, even the pollen. These plants are so dangerous for cats that even rubbing up against the plant and getting pollen on the hair coat and then grooming can lead to a life-threatening poisoning. Typically, exposure to lilies causes acute kidney failure for affected cats.

While lilies are certainly one of the most toxic of all plants for your cat, there are a number of other plants and flowers that can be dangerous as well. If in doubt, keep the plant in an area where your cat cannot access it, or get rid of it. Catnip and cat grass, however, are perfectly for safe for cats and many cats enjoy these plants.

Antifreeze is another potential threat to your cat. Traditional antifreeze, if ingested, can cause kidney failure. Even a very small amount can be toxic for a cat. And to make matters worse, the non-pet-friendly varieties have a sweet taste that apparently many cats find tempting. Pet-friendly antifreezes are available. However, even these, if consumed in large enough quantities, can still pose a threat to your cat, though poisoning with pet-safe antifreeze is much less likely to occur than with regular (non-pet-safe) antifreeze. Keep all antifreeze locked in a secure location where your cat cannot access it. Keep your pet cat indoors and consider restricting access to your garage, in case of a car that is leaking antifreeze.

Another potential threat comes in the form of candles, tart warmers, and/or potpourri. Open flames pose an obvious threat. But the fragrances and particularly the essential oils that are part of so many of these products can pose a danger for your cat, also.

There are other things that can pose a threat to your cat as well. But these are some of the most commonly encountered and some of the most deadly.

Add some of the dangers you have encountered in the comments.

Dr. Lorie Huston

"Common Household Items That Can Be Hazardous for Your Cat" originally appeared on

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I used to have artificial flowers around a candle on my coffee table until my cat started to get into it. At first he would just pretend to chew on it and then he was getting more into it, just to get my attention. So now I do not have any artificial flowers or plants in my home and no real plants either. He is a monster with getting my attention. He will get into anything just to get me to pay attention to him, opening doors on my end tables to knocking cards off of my piano. It is a game with my 'monster!"

August 04 2014 at 11:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

String and also the cord on your blinds.

August 04 2014 at 5:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cheryl Roeben

We have a cat who loves to chew on plastic bags, also strapping around bundles, shrink wrap, etc. & actually ingested some plastic bag material which he thankfully passed within a couple of days! Needless to say, now we keep all plastic bags behind closed doors so he doesn't have access to them!

August 04 2014 at 5:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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