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Each cat in your household should have his or her own food and water dishes. The dishes should be shallow and heavy enough to avoid floor movement as your feline eats.

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Ensure Curiosity Doesn't Kill Your Cat

By Maryann Mott

Ensure Curiosity Doesn\'t Kill Your Cat

Kelly Vorhauer, a fitness instructor in Atlanta, Ga., didn’t think twice about the thumping noise coming from her clothes dryer. She had put in a pair of men’s denim overalls, so she dismissed it as just the wet, heavy fabric swirling around inside. It wasn’t, though.

The thrashing sound was Vorhauer’s orange and white cat, Simba, which had hopped inside the warm dryer while Vorhauer folded clothes in another room. Her husband Paul wound up rescuing Simba because of his curiosity over the annoying noise. After spending four days in a veterinary emergency hospital, the shaken cat pulled through, to the couple’s amazement. “There’s no doubt in my mind I should have lost him,” says Vorhauer, who couldn’t bring herself to use the dryer again for more than a year. “I am absolutely blessed that he didn’t die.”

While mishaps like Simba’s are rare, our homes are filled with all kinds of hazards. Luckily, you can prevent many problems from occurring by simply being aware of potential dangers and taking appropriate steps to protect your cat. Here are a few common, yet potentially deadly, household items and products that cause big trouble for our curious feline chums.

Plants
Certain plant species are deadly to cats but perhaps none more so than lilies. Nibbling on the leaf or flower of Easter, stargazer or tiger lilies -- all popular flowers included in bouquets -- is enough to induce kidney failure in felines, says Steven Hansen, a board-certified veterinary toxicologist who manages the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, Ill. Don’t be afraid to beautify your home with greenery, though. Just make sure it’s the nontoxic kind. A list of safe, as well as dangerous, plants is on the ASPCA Web site.

Cleaning Supplies
Pick your cleaning products wisely. Chemicals that disinfect, or those that remove lime and scale from showers and tubs, tend to be much more harmful than mild soap-based cleaners, says Dr. Hansen. If your cat licks an area sprayed with one of these caustic substances, it can burn its tongue. As a result, your kitty may stop eating and drinking for several days, which, in turn, may lead to liver-related problems, says Dr. Hansen. If a significant quantity is swallowed, it can be outright toxic. When cleaning the bathroom or another area with strong chemicals, shut the door to prevent your pet from entering. If you spill cleaning solution on the floor, wipe it up immediately.

Electric Cords
Cord chewing is a year-round hazard, occasionally resulting in burned mouths. Worse yet, in some cats, electric shock triggers fluid buildup in the lungs, called pulmonary edema, a condition that’s fatal if not treated immediately, says Drew Weigner, DVM, a board-certified feline specialist in Atlanta, Ga. If your feline has a fetish for electrical cords, encase the cords in sturdy protective tubing. One such product is the Critter Cord, a transparent, flexible cover infused with a citrus scent that the company says deters chewing. Bitter sprays are also available to go over cord protectors.

Small Objects
Ingestion of items like bottle caps, coins, thread and dental floss are all too common in felines and may cause intestinal blockages, says Dr. Weigner. String is a particular hazard, he says, because it can cut through the intestine, causing an infection of the abdominal lining that’s usually fatal in cats. Common sense prevails, however. Be vigilant about putting away small objects and keeping them out of your cat’s reach.

Prescription Drugs
Pill vials quickly turn into toys for felines, which love batting them around. But if they pop open, your cat might eat the contents inside. Some human drugs are toxic to animals, so keep medication off counter tops and securely stored in a cabinet or drawer. If your feline is also on medication, avoid mix-ups by keeping the vials in separate places. Most veterinary hospitals use odd-colored bottles with different labels than human pharmacies do to prevent such mishaps.

Kittens Need Extra Monitoring
All cat owners should be aware of potential household dangers, but kitten owners in particular need to be extra careful, says Dr. Weigner. Because kittens love to explore, and usually get themselves into trouble, he recommends keeping kitties under six months of age confined to one room with food, water and a litter box when you are not at home.

In general, the best way to keep cats out of harm’s way is to treat them like you would a small child, he says. “By taking the same types of precautions you would with toddlers, you’re going to go a long way in taking good care of your cats and keeping them safe.”

is an Arizona-based pet journalist who has written for The New York Times and National Geographic online.


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Posted on November 2, 2008

Sophie says: Our 1 yr old fixed female cat is eating holes out of t-shirts, sweaters, blankets, etc. It doesn't matter if they are fresh or worn, on the bed, hanging up within reach or sitting on the washer. Does anyone know why? Is this a diet issue or a behavior issue or both???

Posted on November 23, 2009

cookie says: The cat in the picture looks just like our kitten, Bella. Nice pose

Posted on October 30, 2008

Debby says: I have an 8 year old female cat that has always been an indoor cat. She was neutered when she was 6 months old. We have made 2 house moves in her lifetime and she never tried to go outside. We have recently moved again and now she is constantly trying to go outside. Last night she suceeded and we were lucky that we found her under the house. Why is she doing this?

Posted on October 28, 2008

DEBORAH says: MY CAT HAS NEVER GOT INTO THE DRYER UNTIL TODAY, MY HUSBANDS CLOTHES WERE HANGING OUT OF THE DRYER AND HE DIDNT KNOW THAT THE CAT HAD GOTTEN INTO THE DRYER FOR 15 MINUTES FULL LOAD OF CLOTHES, HE HEARD A THUMP BUT THOUGHT ID PUT SHOE IN DRYER, WHEN HE SHUT OF THE DRYER, THE CAT JUMPED OUT, IT FELL ON THE GROUND, UNABLE TO BREATH, HE WAS BREATHING VERY HARD, AND BLOOD WAS RUNNING FROM HIS MOUTH, I SCOOPED HIM UP AND TOOK HIM TO THE VET, HE PERKED UP A LITTLE, THEY XRAYED HER, HER NOSE WAS BROKE. TOOTH BROKE, AND STOMACH WAS ENLARGED, WE GAVE HER PAIN MEDICATION AND BROUGHT HER HOME, THE VET SAID , WAIT FOR 3 DAYS AND JUST SEE IF SHE MAKES IT

Posted on October 26, 2008

loretta baty says: my one year old male cat just started going outside, he would meow and get mean towards the family,but now he has been gone over 24 hrs, I know it's because he is not neuterd.will he come back when he is done mateing. thanks, loretta

Posted on October 17, 2008

Reenie says: We adopted a 6 year old cat from a humane shelter about a week ago. We were told that the woman had left the cat at the shelter because she was going to a shelter for abused women and couldn't take the cat along. The cat is a beauty and very shy. She has been in our family room and has her food and litter box in the area not far from her. She spends most of her time under the day bed and is cautious with anyone but me. She won't warm up to my husband and we think that a man's voice may scare her. Not knowing what went on at the previous household, we are trying to give her attention and make her feel cared for and loved. She is a gentle, shy gray cat. We have had cats take a while to adjust, but nothing like this. Any ideas on how else we can help her adjust. We want her to be happy here. Thanks

Posted on September 6, 2008

Francesca says: Hi I am just wondering how many hours a day a cat should feed their babies. My cat had 4 babies 4 days ago. She has moved them 2 all around the house. And she seems like she's not feeding them like she should be. Can someone please help? I woory so about these darling little babies. Thank you

Posted on July 22, 2008

Cassie says: Making sure a cat doesn't get into trouble by curiosity is important. Thank you for telling me that!

Posted on July 16, 2008

Amy Crane says: WE GOT THIS WHEN HER EYES WERE BARLY OPEN I BOTTLE FED SHER SHE WOULD SLEEP UP AROUND MY NECK AND HOW SHE IS SO MEAN TO ME SHE WILL JUMP UP AND ATTACT ME BUT WHEN MY HUBAND COME HOME AND SHE LOVE ALL OVER HIM SO WHAT CAN DO TO KEEP HER FROM BEING MEAN TO ME

Posted on July 14, 2008

Mary Ann says: I clean Isabella's cat box every day someimes 2x a day, but she sometimes poops on the bed. She is about 12 or 15 years old

Posted on July 14, 2008

Shari says: Recently my cat was nuetered and had front claws removed,it has been 2 months now..He excessively meows in front of the door when we are in the garage.He also goes from one room to another in a frenzy, around the house when he gets upset,he wasn't like this before.Why does he act like this?

Posted on July 11, 2008

Travis says: We found a baby kitten only minuets old we took it home feed it with an eye dropper then a bottle, taught him how to go to the bathroom anyway his name is Zoe and someone stole him about 5 years ago and my wife and I still miss him. And hope one day God will reunite us. We are both in our late 50's. Thanks for listening. T n T

Posted on July 11, 2008

Travis says: We found a baby kitten only minuets old we took it home feed it with an eye dropper then a bottle, taught him how to go to the bathroom anyway his name is Zoe and someone stole him about 5 years ago and my wife and I still miss him. And hope one day God will reunite us. We are both in our late 50's. Thanks for listening. T n T

Posted on July 11, 2008

Jim Melnick says: My cat, 6 years old, female,fixed has started to poo and urinate on my clothes. it is something new. the litter box is cleaned and fresh liter in it. Everything is starting to smell like urine and poop

Posted on June 30, 2008

candie says: my cat is a gray and white mix. he has this problem when i clean his litter box. he is just five months old and he jumps on my back or he will mewow at me the whole time i clean it. then he will jump in it and lay down. he acts like he does not want me to clean his litter box. i just find this odd. i have had cats my whole life and he is the first to do this with me.

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