It’s my worst fear as a pet parent: That despite how much love and affection I give my cats, despite the preventive vet trips and the quality food I provide, something will be left somewhere it shouldn’t and my curious kitty will encounter something poisonous. Just as we childproof our homes when there are babies around, it’s important to “cat proof” our homes if we have furry feline friends sharing our space.

Plants and Flowers

Lilies have been my favorite flower for as long as I can remember. But I very rarely have them in my home because they are toxic to cats. If I do have them (because someone gifted them to me) then they only go on my fireplace mantle, because my cats cannot get up there. And I NEVER plant them in my yard, just in case any outdoor cats pass through the neighborhood.

Other common plants and flowers that are toxic to cats include:

  • Tulips
  • Dafodils
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Foxglove
  • Aloe
  • Eucalyptus
  • Iris
  • Pointsettia

There’s many more. The ASPCA maintains a list of plants that are toxic and safe for cats. Check it before purchasing plants for in or around your home.

Foods

Many people know that you shouldn’t give a cat chocolate, but did you know that milk and other dairy is on the no-no list too? That’s because most cats become lactose intolerant after kittenhood, so while milk and cheese taste good, it can cause diarrhea and other GI issues.

Here are some other human foods that should be off the kitty table:

  • Onions (fresh, cooked, or dried)
  • Garlic (fresh, cooked, or dried)
  • Alcohol
  • Grapes / Raisins
  • Raw meat (no, store bought raw meat is not the same as an outdoor killing and eating prey)
  • Avocado
  • Anything containing bones
  • Anything with caffeine

While other foods, like tuna or cooked eggs, are ok for cats in moderation, please keep in mind that cats have complex dietary needs. Check out WebMD for more info on meeting your kitty’s dietary needs.

Smells

Air fresheners, oil diffusers, scented candles, incense…there are lots of ways to make our home smell wonderful and help us relax. But the air that carries those scents around our house also carries them onto the fur or into the lungs of our kitties. And that can spell big trouble for our feline friends.

Avoid the following, which can be toxic to cats:

  • Certain essential oils and scented candles
    • Oil of wintergreen
    • Citrus oil
    • Pine oils
    • Peppermint oil
    • Ylang Ylang oil
    • Cinnamon oil
    • Eucalyptus oil
    • Tea tree oil
  • Incense (all — the smoke can be dangerous for kitties)
  • Paraffin wax candles

There also may be certain scents that your particular cat is allergic to. If you choose to use scents, watch how your furry friends behave and stop immediately if you notice they have difficulty breathing, drooling or lethargy. Learn more about kitty allergies from a previous blog post, Kitties Get Allergies, Too.

Medicines

Yes, sometimes vets prescribe cats the same medicines that are prescribed to humans. Does that mean it’s ok for you to share your medications directly with your cat? Absolutely not! Medications not meant for cats or in the wrong dosage can be deadly.

Never give the following medications to your kitty:

  • Anti-inflammatory pain meds (Advil, Motrin, Aleve, Aspirin, Tylenol, etc)
  • Antidepressants
  • Sleep aids
  • ADHD meds
  • Blood pressure meds

The Pet Poison Hotline provides more information about medications that are toxic to cats. And, of course, always keep medications secured and out of reach.

Chemicals

Ever since my dad mistook a 2 liter bottle of mixed antifreeze for Mt. Dew when I was a kid, I knew antifreeze was deadly. (Don’t worry; Dad immediately recognized his mistake and spit it out.) But there are LOTS of chemicals we use around our houses every day that are just as toxic to cats.

Here are some of the most common:

  • Bleach
  • Fertilizers and pesticides
  • Windshield washer fluid
  • Varnishes and shellacs
  • Paints and paint removers
  • Spray glue
  • Tobacco smoke (yes, there are deadly chemicals in tobacco smoke)
  • Household cleaners and disinfectants that contain methanol or isopropanol
  • Canned fuels
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Flea and tick prevention meant for dogs (no, they are not the same as the ones for cats)
  • De-Icing salts
  • Insect and rodent bait

In Conclusion

Part of being a pet parent is maintaining a healthy environment for your furry friend. With a little forethought, your curious kitty can have countless safe adventures. That said, we all know that accidents do happen. If you think your kitty has been poisoned, immediately call your vet and/or the Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.

Do you have tips or tricks for cat proofing your home? If so, share them in the comments below!