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Household hazards for cats


Household hazards for cats

Postby admin » Sat May 07, 2016 5:08 pm

Open washing machines or tumble dryers are very tempting, especially if they have dry or warm clothes inside which make a nice bed.

Hot hobs – especially those which are smooth and just look like an extension of the worktop. Keep kittens off worktops for safety as well has hygiene reasons.

Paper shredders which attract the inquisitive kitten paw or nose with horrible consequences.

Small holes or chimneys which are dark and attractive to nosy kittens or fearful cats.

Large ground level fridges where the kitten can climb in easily when you are putting the milk away and don’t notice.

Plants and cut flowers – kittens can nibble these out of curiosity and indoor cats may chew because they do not have access to grass etc outdoors. See our information on cats and poisonous plants.

Cleaners, bleaches, disinfectants, laundry capsules and concentrated liquids etc often kept under the sink but which may spill and coat a cat’s paw and will then be groomed off. See our information on cats and poisons.

Needles and thread left lying around which attract play and are easily swallowed or wrap around the tongue.

A rickety ironing board and iron left to warm up may tip over if climbed by a curious kitten. Likewise a cooling iron may still be pretty hot.

Wires may prove exciting because they move when the kitten prods them with a paw and then tries to chew them. Some cats seem to be attracted to chewing wires which is rather a dangerous pastime and they may need to be covered or put in covers temporarily or permanently.

Christmas trees! All those dangling baubles will prove irresistible and the challenge of climbing the tree too much for the adventurous kitten. It may be worth putting the tree in a different room for the year the kitten is small or having a smaller one up high and remaining vigilant. This is where a kitten pen comes into its own when you have to leave the kitten alone with the tree.

Pieces of tinsel, holly and mistletoe berries (which are poisonous) etc which fall off as the plants dry inside and could be eaten.

High rise cats
For cats kept in high rise flats, there is always a great danger of falling from windows or balconies. There are companies which produce screens for windows which all them to be opened and the air to flow but keep cats from climbing out.

Likewise, balconies can be cat proofed so that cats can’t fall off. Sometimes people mistakenly think that cats fall on their feet wherever they fall from – this is not true. Although one of the cat’s unique characteristics is its ability to land on its feet after a fall – known as its ‘righting reflex’, cats may not land safely after every fall and from any height (many are injured). As a cat falls it enters into an automatic sequence of events that allow it to flip over – in less than one tenth of a second information from its eyes and balance in its ear set into action a sequence of automatic movements that first turn the cat so that its head is horizontal and upright, then bring its body round as well. Nerves in the spine cause the back end of the body to follow. The tail acts as a counterbalance to prevent over-rotation and by arching its back to absorb some of the shock of hitting the ground, the cat can often land successfully and without injury.

However, cats are not infallible. City vets are used to treating cats with ‘high-rise syndrome’ – cats that have fallen off balconies or out of windows several storeys up. Some have remarkable escapes from death even then, but there are many serious injuries too. A very common injury is a broken jaw, which results from the sheer speed of the fall and the cat hitting its jaw on the ground as it lands on its feet and its legs act as shock absorbers to some extent. Nature only designed cats for short falls from trees, not tower blocks.

Owners who live in flats are still recommended to prevent cats from going on the balcony and to keep mesh over the windows. Apparently most falls happen when cats are distracted by birds or clouds passing by outside.
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