You can never avoid all risks to your cats but there are some obvious areas of risk that should be considered especially with a new kitten. Here’s a list of important considerations:
- Lilies are fatally poisonous to cats – even the slightest contact with the pollen can kill. Check existing cut flower bouquets that you have in the house before the kitten comes home for the first time, and make sure everyone who might send you flowers knows the risk as well.
- Ensure washing machines, dishwashers and tumble-dryers are empty before loading and don’t let a kitten sneak into a loaded machine before you close the door.
- Do not let a kitten sneak into an airing cupboard – whilst they love being warm, this an easily be too hot and the kitten may overheat.
- Don’t leave string, wool, or elastic bands lying about, these can cause nasty problems in the gut if eaten.
- Ensure that kittens are safe from cables and expensive cables (phones, headphones etc) are kept safe from kittens. Cables that don’t move are unlikely to cause issues, but low current mains cables, e.g. on lamps, can pose a risk if kittens were to chew them or play with them. Apple headphone cables seem particularly attractive to kittens and are costly to replace!
- Antifreeze is fatally poisonous to cats – beware puddles of antifreeze or screen-wash outside. It is not unheard of for cruel, heartless people to leave antifreeze outside for cats to drink as cats like the sweet taste. As your cats will be inside or in protected areas, this is a low risk but one to be aware of.
- Ensure no tablets or medication are left where a kitten can have access to them. Blister packs will not stop kittens getting into tablets. Equally as important, don’t leave tablets in a situation where you MIGHT think the kitten has eaten them but don’t know.
- Ensure dishwasher tablets, powder, and washing tablets/powder are kept away from kittens. They may play with the tablets and or get burns from them if they were to lick at them.
- Ensure toilet lids are kept down, and that no baths are left unattended.
- Don’t leave kittens and or kittens together with children unattended near hot drinks
- Ensure you take care of your prized possessions before blaming your kitten for damaging something valuable – e.g. china left on a dresser, laptops, TVs.
The following list of common household products that lead to poisoning in cats is reproduced from icatcare.org:
- Cleaning and hygiene products such as bleach, cleaning fluids and creams, deodorants, deodorisers, disinfectants (particularly phenolic compounds like ‘Dettol’ which turn milky in water), laundry capsules and concentrated liquids, furniture and metal polishes. Concentrated washing liquids or powders can burn the feet and skin if cats walk through them.
- Human medicines such as laxatives, aspirin, paracetamol, tranquilisers and antidepressants. Paracetamol is often given to cats in a caring but misguided attempt to relieve pain. It is highly dangerous to cats and just one tablet is enough to cause severe illness or death. Signs of poisoning include depression, vomiting, swelling of the face and paws and a bluish discolouration of the skin. An effective antidote is available but must be use very soon after the cat has taken the tablet.
- Motoring products such as antifreeze, brake fluid, petrol and windscreen washer fluid. Antifreeze often contains ethylene glycol or methanol, which are toxic to cats (also found in car screen-washes and de-icers). Cats find antifreeze sweet tasting; ingesting even the smallest amount can lead to kidney failure and death.
- Beauty products such as hair dyes, nail polish and remover and suntan lotion.
- Decorating materials such as paint, varnish, paint remover, white spirit and wood preservatives (such as creosote). These can be poisonous if groomed from the coat or can cause burning, blisters or irritation to the skin and footpads or severe irritation in the mouth.
- Miscellaneous household items such as mothballs, photographic developer, chocolate and shoe polish.
For the best information on safety and risks visit http://icatcare.org/ and search for “Keeping Cats Safe”. We urge you to read everything they say on the topic of safety and get your family to read it too. This isn’t to scare you, but to raise awareness to protect your kitten and other cats from risks you may not have realised where there.
Next: Going Out Safely