8 Household Items That Could Kill Your Cat

Keeping your cat safe takes much more than just slapping on a collar. Cats are curious creatures always getting into mischief. This is why we love them, of course, but it also means that they can endanger their own safety in the course of innocent play. 

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin
3-minute read

Here are eight things you should keep away from your cat to lessen the chance of him hurting himself—or worse. If your cat does ingest a dangerous substance, call the Pet Poison Helpline right away at 1-800-213-6680. (And for things to keep away from dogs, make sure to check out our 20 Things You Should Never Feed Your Dog article.)

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Antifreeze and rust removers contain an ingredient called Ethylene Glycol, which has a sweet smell that is sometimes enticing to cats. If they ingest it they can be poisoned, so keep these products where your cat can't get to them, and make sure your car isn't leaking any antifreeze that could puddle up in your driveway or garage.

Ribbons and Yarn

We've never met a cat that didn't love pouncing on ribbon. If ribbon is one of your cat's favorite toys, be sure to supervise him while he's playing with it. The rest of the time, keep it out of your cat's reach. A swallowed piece of ribbon, yarn, string, tinsel, or even dental floss can wrap itself around your cat's intestines and cause blockage or even sever them. If you suspect your cat has swallowed such an item, take him to the vet for an x-ray immediately.

Rat Poison

If you or a neighbor has a rodent problem and your cat eats a rat or mouse that has ingested poison, your cat can become poisoned as well. Symptoms of rodenticide poisoning include loss of appetite, paralysis, and tremors. Avoid using poison to get rid of rodents, and take your cat to the vet immediately if you suspect he's come in contact with such poison.

House Plants

We think of cats as being carnivores, but most kitties love munching on greens every once in a while. You can grow cat grass at home or buy it at a pet store, so your cat can have his own little salad bar. In the meantime, familiarize yourself with this comprehensive list from the ASPCA on plants that are toxic and non-toxic to cats.

Flea Medication

Flea and lice treatment products for dogs and humans sometimes contain Permethrin, a chemical that is toxic to cats. If you use a flea treatment on your cat, make sure it is labeled specifically for cats. If you have to use a product that contains Permethrin on your dog or your child, prevent your cat from being exposed to this companion.

Human Food

Cats aren't generally as bad as dogs when it comes to begging for human food, but cats sometimes surprise us with unusual food cravings. Grapes, chocolate, and onions are three things that can prove dangerous or fatal to a feline. Remember that onion powder is an ingredient in certain snacks and baby food. There is some evidence that cocoa mulch can also be harmful to pets, so you may want to choose another mulch for your yard and garden.

Liquid Air Fresheners

Some liquid potpourri contain cationic detergent, which can burn your cat's mouth and digestive system if he ingests it. It can also irritate his skin. Choose an air freshener your cat won't be tempted to taste, or one that is non-toxic. Check out our great list of air fresheners you can make at home.


Cats love poultry and fish, but if you let them indulge in these delectable treats, make sure they're boneless. Bones can splinter and obstruct your cat's digestive tract or even puncture it. Sometimes canned food is simply the way to go.

Were you surprised by any of these things you should keep away from your cat? Please make sure to share this post with family and friends who have cats! And for more pet tips, follow out Pet Tips board on Pinterest.

How do you protect your cat from ingesting these items? Share them with us in the comments section below or on the Who Knew? Facebook page.

Image courtesy of Anna Boudinot.

About the Author

Bruce and Jeanne Lubin

Bruce Lubin and Jeanne Bossolina-Lubin are the proud parents of three boys and more than a dozen books. After saving thousands per year using everyday tips and simple lifehacks, they started their own business in the hopes of sharing their knowledge with others. They have been known to go into their friends' refrigerators to turn their eggs upside down so that they last longer.