Safety & Dangers: At Home & When Traveling

The following articles are currently available —

        • Kitten & Cat Dangers Every Cat Lover Should Know

        • Which Crates & Carriers Will Keep Your Pets Safe?

        • Keeping Pets Safe In Your Home

Articles will continue to be added

Kitten and Cat Dangers

                       Every Cat Lover Should Know

by Dr. Debra Primovic, D.V.M

    Cats are naturally curious (you've certainly heard that old saying about “curiosity killing the cat”), and they frequently find ways to get into trouble in way that we humans can't even imagine until we discover them in yet more mischief.  This can be cute sometimes, but it's truly devastating when a cat gets hurt because their owner simply didn't perceive the danger in a situation.

    Please don't be caught unprepared and have to face a sad situation.  Below is a list of possible dangers that your cat or kitten might encounter in your home.  Take a look around and do your best to protect your pets.  I hope that these tips can help you do just that.

    1. Chemical and cleaning solutions can be toxic.  Animals can lick bottles or containers or walk through and lick their paws.  Even a small amount, when ingested, can have deadly consequences.

    2. Computer and electrical wires are often appealing to cats, who will chase and nibble on them, but they can cause electrocution.

    3. Children's toys can contain small pieces of plastic, wood, or more that can be ingested, causing an intestinal blockage.

    4. Crawl spaces can be dangerous to cats.  They often will climb and wiggle into spots you may not even know existed, then get stuck in inaccessible areas or be exposed to dangerous toxins, chemicals, poisons or debris.

    5. Doors are dangerous.  Be careful entering and exiting all doorways or even closing windows.  Cats will play around these entrances and can get out or get stuck as a window or door is being shut.  Injuries range from broken feet and tails to more serious problems.

    6. Houseplants can be toxic!  Even plants that are not technically considered poisonous generally cause irritation to the stomach and mouths of cats.

    7. Plugs and outlets are another source of danger, as cats can get electrocuted when they lick or touch them.

    8. Recliners are a serious hazard around cats, especially small kittens.  It is not uncommon for cats to wiggle under the recliners and become injured or killed in the rocking and reclining mechanisms.  Please, PLEASE keep cats away from this kind of furniture!

    9. Rubber bands post yet another intestinal blockage hazard as cats will readily play with and then ingest them.

    10. Watch your step!  Simply going down stairs or walking through the house without being attentive can lead to injury, as some cats will run between your legs and become hurt or cause you to fall!  Some vets recommend that you shuffle your feet around kittens to prevent stepping on their delicate bodies.

    11. A tall stove is appealing to cats who love to be in high places, but they can easily cause severe burns.  A set of burner covers can help protect against this.

    12. String, tread and yarn are similar to rubber bands in that they are enticing toys that can cause severe intestinal and gastric trauma if ingested.

    13. Chemicals designed to melt snow or ices contain salt and other toxins that cats and kittens can lick.  Many pet lovers inadvertently bring in these toxins on their wet or snowy shoes, and cats lick the puddled water, getting sick soon after for seemingly no reason.

    14. Home construction is another potential pitfall; stray nails, stables, razor blades or glue remnants can cause severe illness or injury for small animals such as cats.

    15. The fresh water and enticing noise of toilets are appealing for felines, but the chemicals used to keep them sparkling clean can cause major complications for cats.

    16. Although trashcans are fun to pull over and explore, the contents can contain items such as strings from raw meat, chemical-soaked paper towels and plastic wrap or bags.

    17. Spoiled meat is just as dangerous to your cat as it is to you.  Remember: a cat's stomach isn't iron-clad, so don't feed them something that you wouldn't feel safe eating yourself.

    18. Keep the water and dryer doors shut.  These machines, especially warm dryers, can seem cozy but if turned on can cause deadly injuries and heat stroke.

    19. Open windows and screens are favorite hang-out spots for cats.  Unsecured screens can allow cats to push them out and fall, resulting in life-threatening injuries or allowing cats to become lost and disoriented.

    20. Ant and roach traps often resemble toys; so many cats are compelled to play with them.  However, the poison inside them can be deadly, and by the time the owner discovers the symptoms, it may be too late to do anything about them.

       I know this seems like a lot, but I really do want to help you keep your cat or kitten safe. Please take a moment today to look at your home “through a cat's eyes” and see what dangers you can eliminate.

About this author: Dr. Debra Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.

       Study: Which Crates and Carriers

                                Will Keep Your Pets Safe?

by Lindsay Deutsch, USA TODAY Network

       Planning a road trip with your pet or, maybe, just bringing your new kitten home?  An eye-opening series of tests hopes to clarify products to keep you and your furry friend safe.

       The 2015 Crate and Carrier Crashworthiness Studies, a collaborative effort between the non-profit Center for Pet Safety and pet-friendly carmaker Subaru, announced its findings Friday, including top performing products as well as ones that failed tests despite marketing claims of safety.

       If you're a dog (or cat) owner, you want to protect your pet in the worst case scenario.  When it comes to pet-safety products for vehicles, "the words 'safe' and 'crash-tested' are often just marketing claims.  It's very subjective, so this is working to bring oversight and accountability," she told the USA TODAY Network.

       There are currently no test protocols or performance standards in the U.S. when it comes to automobile pet safety products.  This study is a follow-up to the non-profit's 2011 testing of harnesses.

       What are the top-performing products, according to the study?  For crates, it's the Gunner Kennels G1 Intermediate with 8' Tie Down Straps as the 2015 Top Performing Crate.  For carriers (for smaller dogs and cats), both the PetEgo Forma Frame Jet Set Carrier with ISOFIX-Latch Connection and Sleepypod Mobile Pet Bed with PPRS Handilock got top marks.

       Wolko said that when it comes to car safety, there are products that are distraction prevention tools (which will help prevent a crash) and products that will protect the pet if there is an actual crash.  For example, metal crates are simply a distraction prevention tool and do not help in the case of a collision.

       "In the event of a crash, it is important for pet crates and carriers to contain the dog/cat and prevent the animal from becoming a projectile.  It is also important for the containment device to remain fully secured at the connection points.  If a pet is unrestrained, or the structural integrity should fail, your pet can potentially strike and injure a human passenger," according to the Center for Pet Safety.

       Subaru, which funded the study, is a company in which more than half of drivers are pet owners, and of that group, 69% own at least one dog.

Other tips for pet travel:

    • Make sure your pet has the right size crate.  They should fit snugly with just enough

room to be comfortable.

    • Secure crates and carriers using strength-rated cargo area anchor straps.  Wolko says

that elastic or rubber bungee cords "do absolutely no good."

    • Assess your dog's or cat’s shape, size and personality before deciding whether to use a

crate, carrier or harness when traveling.

Editor’s note:  Always put your kitten or cat in a hard plastic kitten crate when driving. This is because if you would have a car accident, your kitten will be confined (and won’t be able to run away if a car door, window, etc. was accidentally opened). Also, your kitten will be better protected in the event your car might be crushed in an unfortunate accident.

Keeping Pets Safe in Your Home

    Few things fill our hearts with joy like pets, but there is a flip side to this since we worry about the furry members of our family just as much as we do our own children.

    There are certain things that should always be taking into consideration when animals share a house, and this guide will discuss how you can ensure your home is devoid of danger.

General Guidance

    If you’re bringing a pet into your home, or moving to a new family dwelling, you’ll need to ensure that no ill fortune will befall them.  Here is some generic advice on how you can keep every member of your family safe, whether they stand on two legs or four.

    • American Humane are dedicated to the safety of animals, and they have some great advice on how to keep inquisitive animals (including puppies and kittens) from getting themselves into trouble in the home.

    • Family Handyman is a blog that’s packed with hints and tips for keeping a home safe for animals.

    • Petful have bags of advice on keeping a home safe for a new, non-human arrival.

    • Animal World go into some detail on all the hazards (be they in plain sight of hidden) that any pet will be able to locate in the home, while the The American Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has collated a list of all poisonous chemicals that can be found in the home.

    • OVO Energy is a UK-based electrical supplier, but the advice they on keeping pets safe from electrical hazards in the home is truly universal.

    • The American Red Cross provides essential information on how to help your pets if there’s a fire in your home.  PETA, meanwhile, offer guidance to how you can keep your pet safe     • Finally, Good Housekeeping magazine summarizes the ways that pets can place risks upon humans.

Room-by-Room Advice

    General advice is great, but sometimes you need to be a little more specific.  Let’s take a tour through each room you’ll typically find in a family home, and shine a light on what may be useful for keeping the vulnerable members of our family safe.

Living Rooms and Bedrooms

    A living room is usually where an entire family gathers to pass an evening and as an increasing number of families include at least one non-human member, that includes pets.  The bedroom, meanwhile, is where a great many pampered pets spend their evenings snoozing alongside them.  As a result, it’s important to ensure that these spaces are safe for any animals.

    • The average living room will host a TV, a stereo, a video game console and other electrical appliances besides.  That’s a whole lot of cables potentially lying around.  If you have dogs, cats, rabbis or small animals, you should ensure that no animals can chew through these wires.  Blogger PetsLady has some suggestions on how to hide cables from your four-legged family members, and Apartment Therapy also shares some more general advice on this topic.

    • First Tank Guide offers invaluable advice for anybody lucky enough to have a fish tank in their living room.

    • You may love your array of indoor plants, but your pet may take a shine to them too since animals explore the world with their mouths, after all.  Houseplants Expert has a list of houseplants that are potentially toxic to your pets if they decide to chew on the leaves.

    • If you have any breakable heirlooms, you can be sure that a cat will find a way of breaking them.  PetCareRx offers advice on cat-proofing anything delicate and valuable within your home.

    • When the holidays arrive, your living room is likely to become a winter wonderland filled with festive trinkets and ornaments–all of which will be very tempting for an animal to investigate.  VetlQ has a guide to decorating a room and keeping it safe for your pets.

    • Your dog may well be cowering in your living room or bed on nights like the 4th of July, when anxiety-inducing fireworks fill the air.  British TV personality and canine behavior specialist Victoria Stillwell has advice on combatting the panic that will follow.

    • Open windows can be something of a risk for pets; whether that’s cats that attempt to leap from a great height, or birds that look to make their escape.  If you must keep them open, look into some kind of shield to keep your pets safe.


    We may not spend quite as much time in our kitchens as other rooms in the house, but given half the chance a free-roaming pet would spend all day such surroundings.  The smells alone are enough to hold the intrigue of any cat or dog!

    Always keep food out of reach of animals, and do what you can to mask any scents by using Tupperware or cling film and ensure that cabinets that house cleaning supplies are very firmly closed.

    • Trashcans can be irresistible to dogs in particular thanks to the smell of food within, and if a canine gets their face into a bin all kinds of trouble could follow as they swallow bones and rotten food.  PetMD provides advice on how to pet-proof a garbage vessel.

    • If a bin is enticing, just imagine how tempting it must be to try to gain access to a fridge!  Thankfully, the blog me has a guide to keeping your snooping pets away from your leftovers and fresh produce.

    • Most kitchens will be home to a wide variety of cleaning supplies, many of which will be lethal to animals.  Eartheasy has compiled a list of the chemicals found in most houses that would cause problems for pets, and suggests alternatives that will be altogether less harmful.

    • Leaf & Paw and The Honest Kitchen both warn of any common kitchen herbs that could harm an animal, while Cookware looks into general safety for animals in this room–including pet birds, which often call a family kitchen home.


    A bathroom is potentially the most lethal room in the house for any curious pet.  Razors, medications, dental floss and cleaning products should all be elevated away from the reach of an animal, and even toothpaste is lethal to dogs due to the toxic presence of fluoride within it.  This doesn’t even begin to cover some animal’s tendency to drink out of the toilet!  Keep dental floss away from any animal.

    It’s best to keep a bathroom door closed as much as possible, as prevention is always better than cure.  The truth is, there isn’t a great deal that can done to make a bathroom pet-safe other than keeping critters out of the area, and placing everything that could do them harm as far from their reach as possible.  Also follow the instructions laid out for kitchen safety where applicable, such as those connected to cleaning supplies.