If you want to enjoy many more years with your feline companion, know that lilies have no place in the home (or garden) of a cat guardian. This is because lilies are toxic to cats and they cause life-threatening kidney failure.
The lilies we’re talking about are those large, showy blooms so loved by florists. You can almost guarantee that any bouquet of mixed flowers contains lilies from the Lilium or Hemerocallis species.
These flowers contain an as yet unidentified toxin that has a unique action on cats. When ingested this toxic causes the kidneys to shut down . . . and there’s no cure. The best your vet can do is put the cat onto intravenous fluids in the hope of flushing the toxin through and kick-starting the kidneys.
All parts of the plant of dangerous, including the leaves, petals, and stalks. But if you’re feeling smug because your cat wouldn’t be so foolish as to chew a plant, then think again. The pollen is especially toxic. Yes, that fine yellow dusting that drifts down like April showers when you brush past the vase is extremely dangerous. Imagine the cat brushing past, getting pollen on her coat, and then grooming herself.
If you’re lucky enough to receive a bouquet of flowers, snip out all the lilies and dispose of them safely.
No one likes the smell of singed fur so keep those romantic candles well out of paws reach. In addition, know that some cats are sensitive to the fragrances in scented candles. Although rare, perfumes can cause allergic skin reactions that lead to intense itching, or worse still trigger an asthma attack and breathing difficulties.
Be aware of the hazards posed by candles and use them sparingly around your feline friends.
Ever wondered how chocolate is so delicious that we consume far too much of it, whilst it’s toxic to cats and dogs?
The answer lies in the theobromine it contains, which humans can tolerate but cats can’t. It acts as a stimulant and causes a racing heart, excitement, seizures, and possibly death. So do the right thing by the cat and make sure you tidy up by eating all the chocolates.
4. Ribbons and String
That enormous heart-shaped box of chocolates came with a red ribbon tied in a bow. As you dive into the goodies and carefully keep them out of reach spare a thought for where the ribbon went.
Cats and kittens love playing with long wriggly things that look like snakes. The problem comes when they decide to eat what they caught and swallow down a length of ribbon. This then knots up inside the gut and causes what’s known as a foreign body obstruction. This is one of the commonest causes of blockages in a cat’s gut, and is also one of the most serious because the edge of the ribbon can cheese-wire through the bowel wall. Remove the risk by tidying ribbons away out of paw’s reach.
Also be vigilant for other objects that could be mistaken for wiggly worms and swallowed, such as raffia wrapping or the string handles on paper bags. And of course, if you are lucky enough to get bags of swag this Valentine’s, if those bags are plastic keep them out of kitty’s reach or risk her getting stuck inside and suffocating.
5. Sugar substitutes such as xylitol
There’s so much that’s sweet about Valentine’s Day that it’s hard to avoid novelty heart-shaped cookies or candies. But these also are a hazard to cats because of the low-calorie substitute for sugar called xylitol.
In one of the quirky differences between people and pets – our cats (and dogs) can’t tolerate xylitol as it makes their blood sugar levels plunge into their paws. This is so serious that pets have been known to go into a coma and die.
Be careful not to leave glasses of wine or alcohol where your cat might try to lick it. She might be attracted by the sweetness of the smell and try an experimental mouthful or two. Unfortunately, her small size relative to people means she’s unduly sensitive to alcohol and much more likely to get alcohol poisoning than you’d think. So remember, a drunken cat is not funny but a potential disaster in the making.
Even the most romantic of all Valentine’s Day symbols, the rose, can cause thorny problems. You guessed it, the thorns can get stuck in the mouth if a cat tries to chew a stem, or in a paw if you don’t take care with trimmed stems. So be careful, and arrange those dozen red roses where they can best be seen for effect, but are well out of the way of inquisitive paws.
By being aware of the risks and taking a few sensible steps to reduce them, everyone can enjoy Valentine’s day, safe in the knowledge that you’re not at risk of heartache . . . from a sick cat at least.
Happy Valentines Day!