Feline Safety 101: A Guide to Common Household Dangers

Feline Safety 101: A Guide to Common Household Dangers

Feline Safety 101: A Guide To Common Household Dangers Banner
These 5 common household toxins and allergens can seriously harm your beloved feline companion. Learn how to eliminate the risk and protect your pet! 


If you’re anything like the average cat parent, you love your pet and would do anything in your power to keep it safe. Your home is a safe haven for your four-legged companion, providing warmth, security from predators, and protection from wandering away and getting injured or stolen elsewhere. Additionally, keeping your cat indoors allows you to supervise and step in for safety's sake whenever needed.

However, your home also contains some hazards that could harm your cat, with household toxins and allergens being at the top of the list. Nonetheless, you can take measures to prevent these dangers from becoming a serious issue.

In this guide, you will learn about the five most dangerous and common household toxins and allergens that can affect cats. Moreover, you will learn the best strategies for minimizing these risks to prevent injury or illness. Although you may not be able to wave a magic wand to magically keep your cat safe, you can take a few simple steps to ensure that they don't succumb to these dangers.

Sign & Symptoms

Signs And Symptoms Of Cat Toxicity, Poisoning, Or Exposure To Allergens

First, we need to talk about how to spot the signs and symptoms that your cat may have been exposed to something dangerous. 

Here are the common signs and symptoms that could indicate exposure to a poisonous or toxic plant, substance, or allergen within your home:

  • Twitching
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Irritation of the skin
  • Jaundice
  • Irritation of the gums
  • Irritated/watery eyes
  • Confusion
  • Incoordination
  • Unsteady Gate
  • Drooling/salivation
  • Excessive drinking/urinating
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures/fits
  • Unconsciousness/collapsing
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Appetite changes/poor appetite

As a general rule, if you see any of these symptoms, you should immediately investigate the issue and contact your veterinarian for further instructions. 

Now, let’s talk about the actual dangers themselves. 

Poisonous Plants

1. Poisonous Plants

Many households contain houseplants. 

As humans, we love indoor plants because they make our space feel natural, inviting, fresh, and alive. But for cats, houseplants can be an issue. And in some cases, they can be downright dangerous!

The Danger

The dangerous thing about houseplants is that some of them are legitimately toxic to felines. And unfortunately, cats like to rub, scratch, lick, and nibble on them. 

Thus, if you have toxic houseplants within reach of your kitty, this could put your pet at risk for poisoning and/or plant toxicity.

What To Do

If you suspect that your cat may have ingested a poisonous houseplant, act quickly to remove the plant from the area. If the cat shows symptoms of poisoning, you should note both the time you noticed them and the symptoms themselves. 

Then, you should contact your vet for further instructions. 

Note that if your cat vomits, your vet may ask you to provide a sample of the vomit to help them identify poisonous plant material—so don’t ‘clean up and throw away’ that kitty puke quite yet!

How To Protect Your Cat

To best protect your cat from the dangers of poisonous plants, make sure that you check each and every plant for feline toxicity before bringing it into your home (and within reach of your fluffy four-legged roommate). 

Here’s a list of some of the most common houseplants to avoid if you have a cat:

Lilies, eucalyptus, jade, milkweed, onion, tomato, daffodils, hyacinth, mistletoe, mandrake, azaleas, croton, caladium, dieffenbachia, ficus, philodendron, monstera deliciosa, oleander, poinsettia, Christmas cherry, holly berries, any palm species with the words ‘sago’ or ‘cycad’ in the name, aloe vera, asparagus fern, bird of paradise, branching ivy, dracaena, dumbcane, English ivy, fig tree, pencil cactus, pothos, snake plant, yew, and umbrella plant. 

2. Household Cleaners And Chemicals

Household cleaners and chemicals pose a danger to everyone in the home, especially when mishandled or used incorrectly. But they’re especially dangerous to cats. Unlike us, cats don’t understand that chemicals are dangerous. 

Thus, curiosity can get the best of them, and they can sometimes stick their nose, paw, or tongue into a chemical—and in so doing, introduce dangerous poisons into their sensitive little ‘kitty systems.’

And the results can be catastrophic. 

The Danger

The biggest danger comes from leaving chemicals out in the open where your cat could easily access them. 

For example—if you’re mopping the floor, but take a break to step outside and take a phone call, your cat could walk across the floor, get curious about the ‘wetness’ on its feet, and lick its little toe beans without even realizing that there’s dangerous bleach or cleaner contained within the solution. 

What To Do

If you catch your cat either ingesting a toxic substance or showing symptoms of poisoning, remove the source of the contamination immediately and call your vet for further instructions. If possible, supply your vet with as much specific information as possible about what the cat consumed or was exposed to (for example, which chemical, cleaner, or agent was being used). 

How To Protect Your Cat

When it comes to cleaners and chemicals, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure!

Prevent incidents of chemical poisoning by keeping all household chemicals and cleaners locked up safely, where your furry feline friend can’t access them. Also, be careful and remove your pet from the area while using dangerous chemicals and cleaners. 

Here’s a list of some of the most common household chemicals that are dangerous for cats:

Antifreeze, paint, varnish, glass cleaners, alcohol, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, perfume/cologne, and any chemicals that contain the word ‘phenol’ in the name. 

3. Toxic Foods

A lot of new cat owners are surprised to learn that feeding their pets human food isn’t necessarily always a safe practice. In fact, there are quite a few human foods that are toxic for kitties!

But these foods can also pose a risk if left out accidentally—thereby allowing your cat unintentional access to them. 

The Danger

Cats are meat eaters and require a very specific type of diet. They require certain proteins, vitamins, and minerals—and usually obtain such nutrients by consuming a commercial-grade diet of properly enriched meat-based foods like cooked beef, chicken, and turkey. 

High-quality commercial cat food is an excellent way to start your cat out on a healthy diet—though preparing home-cooked food for your cat (according to proper dietary restrictions and specifications) can do a lot to boost the quality of your cat’s food options. 

The danger comes from accidentally giving your cat access to human foods that are toxic to the feline system. 

For example—your cat might jump up onto the counter and sniff around at the leftovers from dinner, nibbling a bit at some of the food without you even realizing that they’re doing it. And this can lead to problems when your cat accidentally ingests foods that are toxic to their delicate feline systems.

What To Do

If you suspect that your cat has ingested dangerous food or food that is making it sick, you should call your veterinarian as soon as possible to describe the symptoms and ask for further instructions. 

If at all possible, identify the source of the problem (the type of food that was consumed) so that you can provide your vet with as many details as possible. The more you can tell your vet about the incident, the better equipped they’ll be to give you instructions about how to proceed. 

How To Protect Your Cat

The best way to protect your cat from ingesting dangerous and toxic human foods is to always put meals and snacks away after you’re done eating, and to keep leftovers and other ingredients locked up and out of reach of your cat. 

Some foods that can be especially dangerous and toxic to cats include: 

Onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, shallots, chives, raw eggs, bones, chocolate, caffeinated drinks (including coffee), citrus fruits, alcoholic drinks, raw dough (especially with yeast), grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, and packaged foods containing xylitol (gum, candy). 

Here are some other types of foods that, while not necessarily inherently toxic to cats, can pose allergen risks and other types of secondary risks for felines:

Other types of nuts, raw meat, milk, dairy products, coconut water, and salt.


4. Fleas

Unfortunately, nearly every pet owner will need to deal with a flea infestation at some point in their pet’s lifespan.  And while this isn’t always a serious issue (aside from being annoying and time-consuming), it can prove to be serious for some pets. 

Some cats are allergic to fleas (a condition commonly referred to as flea allergy dermatitis). And in such cases, it’s especially important to take action to treat your cat and remove the infestation as quickly as possible.  

The Danger

Flea allergy dermatitis can manifest itself as an aggressive skin irritation. 

Flea-allergic cats will commonly do things like chew or lick the hair off of their legs. Incessant itching can also lead to hair loss on the head, around the base of the tail, and around the neck.

Cats who suffer from the allergy may even form scabs on their skin as a result of ‘itching’ at the fleas with aggressive, unrelenting determination. 

What To Do

The best way to treat a flea infestation is to take your cat to the vet and get it properly treated for fleas. Your vet may also advise you to treat your home so as to attack the infestation from multiple directions. 

The primary objective in treating this type of allergy is to remove the flea presence—so successful flea control is crucial. 

You may need to treat your cat more than once for fleas, so as to eliminate them during each phase of their life cycle until their entire presence has been eradicated. 

But once you successfully remove the fleas, the dermatitis will generally heal quickly and leave your kitty feeling much better

How To Protect Your Cat

The most effective way to prevent flea allergy dermatitis is to prevent your cat from getting fleas in the first place. 

You can help to accomplish this by limiting the amount of time your cat spends outdoors, limiting their contact with other animals, bathing them regularly, brushing them regularly, and checking them for signs of fleas on a regular basis (so that you can head off the problem and solve it quickly should it arise). 

One thing to note is that you should never use dog flea treatments for cats. Most dog flea collars and treatments contain substances that are toxic to cats, and they can cause serious illness, seizures, and even death if used. 

5. Environmental Allergens 

Just as some humans suffer from allergic reactions to certain environmental factors, cats can also suffer from allergies. 

Some of the most common types of environmental allergies that affect cats include:

Pollen, grass, fungi, mold, dust, cigarette smoke, and dust mites.

The Danger

The dangerous thing about allergies is that they’re sometimes difficult to identify—and they can be even more difficult to prevent. 

But the telltale symptoms are usually pretty clear. Cats suffering from environmental allergies will typically sneeze, itch, cough, wheeze, and experience a runny nose. Sometimes, vomiting can also be an indication of an environmental allergy (or even an allergy to an ingredient in the specific brand of cat food you’re using). 

What To Do

Unfortunately, trying to rule out different potential allergens can be a lot like digging for a needle in a haystack. But here’s a list of methods that you can try to narrow it down:

  • Stop smoking indoors or around your cat
  • Switch to dust-free litter
  • Clean more often, with a special emphasis on removing extra dust
  • Clean and wash your cat’s bedding on a regular basis
  • Try feeding special allergen-reducing cat food
  • Install an air purification/filtration system

How To Protect Your Cat

One of the best ways to protect your cat from environmental allergies is to just play close attention to your cat’s behavior, health, and habits on a daily basis. This will make it easier to notice if your cat seems to ‘deviate’ from their normal behavior patterns. It could also make allergy symptoms easier to detect. 

When it comes to allergies, detecting them and beginning the process of ‘ruling things out’ is really where you’ll do the most good in the shortest amount of time. Keeping your cat indoors, maintaining high air, water, and food quality, and making sure to keep the area clean and free of potential allergens is also important. 


There you have it.

5 common household toxins, allergens, and dangers that can threaten your cat’s safety and well-being. 

Now that you know how to identify these dangers, you can take action to prevent them before they ever get the chance to pose a threat to your fluffy feline friend. 

And honestly—that’s really all that matters! 

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