Common Household Things That Can Be Dangerous for Cats

Common Household Things That Can Be Dangerous for Cats

Curious cats and hidden hazards often go paw in hand. Our feline friends are experts at turning everyday items into perilous playgrounds. In this article, we'll explore eight household items that pose a significant risk to your cat's safety. Keep reading to learn how you can create a secure environment for your cats while still satisfying their adventurous spirit.

Electrical Cords

We all know that cats like to chew on things, and electrical cords are no exception. Chewing on electrical cords can be dangerous for cats for several reasons.

  • Chewing on electrical cords can injure the gums or the side of the mouth.

  • It can cause choking if the cat swallows a piece of the cord.

  • It can cause electrocution, which can seriously injure or even kill the cat.

To protect your cats, it’s best to keep all electrical cords out of your cat’s reach. This means putting them in boxes that the cat can’t reach, or tying them up so there are no loose parts for cats to play with.

You can also get special covers or cat repellents at pet stores to prevent your cats from playing with the cords.

If you catch your cat chewing on a power cord, tell him a firm “no” and direct his attention to a toy or other activity. With patience and consistency, you can teach your cat to stay away from power cords and keep him from harm.


Most people know that medications for humans can be dangerous to pets, but many are unaware that this is true for over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications as well. Cats are particularly sensitive to the effects of medications, and even a small dose can cause serious side effects.

There are a few reasons for this:

  • Cats metabolize medications differently than humans. This means that the active ingredient in the drug can stay in their bodies longer, which can lead to poisoning.

  • Cats have a much higher risk of liver damage from drugs than other animals. This is because their livers aren’t as good at breaking down and processing toxins.

  • Since cats are small in size, even a small dose of medication can have a big impact on their bodies

For all these reasons, it’s important to be very careful when administering any type of medication to your cat.

If you suspect that your cat has swallowed a medication, it’s important that you act quickly. Contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 for immediate assistance.


A string is another common household item that can be dangerous to cats. If your cat swallows string, it can cause internal damage if the string gets stuck in the stomach or intestines. Therefore, always keep string out of reach and never give your cat string to play with.

In addition to string, other similar items like yarn, thread, and ribbon can also pose a danger to your cat. These items can easily become tangled around your cat's neck or limbs, leading to injury or even strangulation. Be sure to store these materials securely and supervise your cat during playtime with any toys that incorporate string-like elements.

Household Cleaners

Many household cleaners including hand sanitizers contain chemicals that can be toxic to cats if they inhale them or get them on their skin. Always keep cleaners in a safe place where your cat can not get to them, and use them in a well-ventilated area.

When using household cleaners, it's also important to wipe down surfaces thoroughly and keep your cat away from the area until it's completely dry. This will minimize the risk of your cat ingesting any residual chemicals from licking their paws or grooming themselves after coming into contact with the cleaned surface.

Additionally, consider using pet-friendly cleaning products that are specifically designed to be safe for use around animals.


There are many plants that can be toxic to cats. Among the most common are lilies, tulips, and azaleas. If you have plants in your home, you should remove them immediately. Even if they are out of reach for cats, the pollen or seeds can still harm a cat.

Contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 for immediate assistance.

Essential oils

Many cat owners are unaware that pure essential oils can be very toxic to cats. Cats are not able to metabolize and remove toxins such as essential oils from their liver. The best way to avoid this is to keep essential oils in places where a cat can get to them, or not have them at all.

I learned this after having cats of my own – always better to be safe than sorry. While there are some essential oils that are labeled pet safe, I would reconsider or check with ASPA poison control.

Open Windows and Balconies

Open windows and balconies pose a significant risk to cats, as they may fall or escape from these areas. Cats are known for their curiosity and agility, but even the most skilled feline can accidentally slip or misjudge a jump, leading to severe injuries or even death.

To ensure your cat's safety in your home:

  • Install window screens or secure mesh guards on all windows that you open regularly. This will prevent your cat from accidentally falling out while still allowing fresh air into your home.

  • Close and lock balcony doors when you're not around to supervise your cat. If you have a balcony, consider installing a "catio" – an enclosed outdoor space designed specifically for cats – to provide a safe environment for them to enjoy the outdoors.

  • Regularly check that all screens and doors are securely fastened before letting your cat roam free in the house.

  • Be mindful of any furniture placed near windows or balconies, as it may give your cat easy access to these potentially dangerous areas.

By taking these precautions, you can create a safer environment for your cat while still enjoying the benefits of fresh air and outdoor spaces.

Toxic Foods for Cats

In addition to household items, certain foods can also be harmful to your cat's health. Here are some common foods that are toxic to cats and should be kept out of their reach:

  • Chocolate and caffeine – Both contain substances called methylxanthines, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, and even death in cats.

  • Onions and garlic – These vegetables contain compounds that can damage a cat's red blood cells, leading to anemia.

  • Grapes and raisins – Even small amounts of these fruits can cause kidney failure in cats.

  • Alcohol – Even a small amount of alcohol can cause severe liver and brain damage in cats.

  • Xylitol – This artificial sweetener found in sugar-free gum and other products can cause insulin release in cats, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and possible liver failure.

  • Bones – Small bones from fish, chicken, or other meats can splinter and cause choking or internal injuries in cats.

By being aware of these potential hazards and taking the necessary precautions to keep them out of your cat's reach, you can help ensure their safety and well-being.

Small Toys and Objects

Cats are naturally curious creatures, and they love to play with small toys or objects they find around the house. However, this curiosity can lead to dangerous situations if your cat accidentally swallows a small item. Ingesting these objects can cause choking, internal blockages, or even damage to their digestive system.

To protect your cat from the dangers of small toys and objects:

  • Regularly inspect all cat toys for signs of wear and tear. Discard any toys that have become damaged or have loose parts that could be easily swallowed.

  • Keep an eye on household items such as rubber bands, hair ties, paper clips, and jewelry, as these can pose a choking hazard if ingested by your cat. Store them securely in closed containers or drawers when not in use.

  • Supervise your cat during playtime to ensure they don't accidentally swallow any small items or parts of their toys.

  • Avoid giving your cat toys with small components like buttons, beads, or sequins that could be easily detached and swallowed.

By being mindful of the toys and objects in your home and taking these precautions, you can help keep your feline friend safe from the potential dangers presented by small items.

What to Do if You Think Your Cat Was Poisoned

If you believe your cat has been poisoned, the first thing you should do is call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

Do not attempt to make your cat vomit unless told to do so by a professional.

If you have the container of the ‘poison’, bring it with you or find out the name, active ingredients, and manufacturer.

Be prepared to answer questions such as when your cat was exposed to the poison, what the dose was, and the symptoms of your cats.

What Should You Do to Cat Proof Your Home

To cat-proof your home and minimize the risk of accidental poisoning or injury, follow these steps:

  • Conduct a thorough inspection of your home, identifying any potential hazards mentioned in this article.

  • Secure all hazardous items, such as medications, cleaning supplies, and toxic foods, in locked cabinets or out-of-reach locations.

  • Replace toxic plants with cat-friendly alternatives or move them to an area where your cat cannot access them.

  • Invest in cord protectors or cable organizers to keep electrical cords out of your cat's reach.

  • Regularly check and maintain window screens, balcony doors, and other potential escape routes to ensure they are secure.

  • Provide your cat with safe and appropriate toys, and supervise playtime to prevent accidents involving small objects.

By taking these precautions and remaining vigilant about your cat's safety, you can create a secure and stimulating environment for your feline companion to thrive in.


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