Veterinarian Reviewed on January 4, 2008 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
There are a number of elements that can compromise the health and safety of your cat. Most of us would never consider many of the hazards a cat faces on a day to day basis and this means there are a number of unnecessary cat deaths every year. Some useful tips include locking up cleaning products, closing your dryer door, caution when driving in and out of your driveway, and fire safety.
A deadly dose of hazardous material is distinctly lower for a cat than a human. Of course, they are smaller and poisonous products will be metabolized faster for a cat and a smaller amount will be deadly. Cleaning products, insect repellant and poisons, and human medication should be secured or locked in cabinets and cupboards. Even some green cleaning products can be deadly to a cat when ingested. And it doesn’t take a spill to cause concern. Often with cleaning products, the cleaner will leak or run down the side of a bottle. Because these products sometimes have an appealing smell, your cat might lick the side of the bottle and ingest the poison. This can be very dangerous. For that reason, it is best to keep all such products out of reach and out of access for your cat. You can use heavy rubber bands or child safety devices to keep cupboards and cabinets secure from your cat.
Cats often seek out warm, comfortable places for a rest. Think of the number of mornings that you’ve come out to your car and found cat prints on the hood. The warmth of the engine is very enticing for a cat looking for somewhere to rest. In the same way, cats are attracted to clothes dryers. The clothes in the dryer are warm and cozy and cats love to nap here. Because of this, it is very important that you keep your dryer door closed. Any one of us can remember a time when we just threw more wet clothes into a dryer and started it up again. This can mean certain death for your cat.
In addition to dryers, keep refrigerator and freezer doors secure at all times. Fridges and freezers are air tight and a cat will run out of air before long if they end up locked inside.
If you have an outdoor cat, it is important for you to be vigilant about your car. Cats often sleep under cars or even under the hood where it’s warm. If this is the case, even starting your car can be dangerous. The fan of the car may injure the cat or in some cases, a cat may come along for the ride and when they escape from under the hood they may be on a busy and dangerous highway. One of the easiest ways to prevent accidents such as these is to honk your horn a few times before starting your engine. This will frighten the cat and they will run off. Also, be sure to have a look under the car before driving away.
Generally, cats will avoid fire like any other self-preserving animal. It is hot and dangerous and they know that. However, if a cat is frightened or excited they may accidentally run into an open fire. In this case, a cat’s hair will usually ignite quickly and your cat will not know how to save themselves. Certain precautions should be taken when you have a fireplace or open candles. Keep a grate in front of your fireplace. Though the grate will get hot and a cat burned if they touch it, they will not suffer the severe burns that are likely to occur from contact with open flame. Also, keep candles in places your cat knows not to tread. And finally, never leave open fire unattended.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan