Household Chemicals And Your Cats

Although cats are quite intelligent, people often give them more credit than they are due when it comes to dangers lurking around the home. Too many times veterinarians hear distraught cat owners lament, “I thought she knew by the smell that it was dangerous.”

Cleaning products that seems to be safe for use around dogs could contain cationic detergents that can burn a cat’s sensitive skin.

Here are some tips to keep your cats safe and out of a vet’s office on an emergency basis:

  • When using any cleaners, especially disinfectants, check with your veterinarian or the ASPCA/Animal Poison Control Center (see number listed below) to see if it is safe.
  • Try using a non-toxic or citrus-based cleaner in lieu of more dangerous options. However, even “nontoxic” products can hurt your cat.
  • Follow label instructions.
  • Don’t increase the concentration to make it stronger.
  • If you must use a pine-scented or pine oil-based cleaner, lock your cat in another room until the area has been thoroughly rinsed and dried.
  • Use the same logic when having your carpet cleaned or using pesticides; never let your cat walk on a wet surface. Liquid chemicals can be absorbed systematically through the cat’s pads, as well as from licking the compound from his paws.

Pesticides Hazards:

  • Even a flea treatment can cause problems.
  • It’s not uncommon for a well-meaning cat owner to poison his own cat by treating its cat with a canine flea treatment.
  • Just because it is approved for dogs doesn’t mean it’s safe to use on cats.
  • Check the label before putting any insecticide on your kitty. If the label doesn’t say its used “for cats”, don’t use it.
  • If the dog and cat are chummy, go a step further and use a cat-safe product on Fido, too.
  • Flea collars, even those formulated for cats can be lethal.
  • Sometimes while scratching or trying to remove it, the cat can catch the collar in its mouth.

Dr. Patricia Hague, owner of the Cat Hospital of Las Colinas in Irving, Texas, treated a kitten that died of liver damage caused by the chemical absorbed through its skin from his collar.

Common Sense when ridding your home of pests:

  • Plug up any holes where pests can sneak into the home.
  • Remove all food sources.
  • Keep all chemicals, powders, traps and baits out of kitty’s reach.
  • As with cleaners, cats can become exposed to pesticides either directly by licking off their paws, but they can also be exposed indirectly, by eating an affected rodent.
  • Try other non-toxic options like glue traps or rodent live traps.
  • Ask your exterminator what chemicals are being used and request an information sheet.
  • Refuse anything but anticoagulant poisons. (If your cat has been exposed, he can be treated with vitamin K.)
  • If you have any questions, call your veterinarian or the National Pesticide Information Center (800-858-7378.) They can refer you to a company that uses some of the least toxic or organic pest control methods.
  • Never set off a bug bomb in a house with a pet inside. Even if the cat is in another room, the air conditioner can circulate toxic mist to his refuge in just a short time.
  • Better to take him to a friend’s house, the veterinarian’s office or even wait in a carrier outside under a tree.
  • If you suspect that your cat has ingested any poison directly or indirectly, you should make a note of the substance and call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 800-548-2423. The 800 number charges a $50 flat fee to a major credit card.
  • You can learn about more substances that could hurt your cat at www.aspca.org.


Written by Dusty Rainbolt
Dusty Rainbolt is an award winning cat writer.

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2 comments on “Household Chemicals And Your Cats

janets98 March 5, 2017
Thank you. I'm pretty careful about what I use now that I'm owned by a cat, but I didn't know about all that. And the phone number for the Pesticide Information Center was very welcome.
hublebuble4 November 12, 2013
Thank you very much. You = I - might not Think about perhaps I put a bottle standing "not safe" in the kitchen, and then it happens. This is very important information to 'be careful' where you/I put dangerous stuff. All the best to you, Peter

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