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Spread the love on February 14 and enjoy your romantic celebrations, but take extra care to keep dangerous items out of your cat’s reach. We discuss Valentine’s Day safety for cats, and how to avoid potential dangers for your cat.
Lilies are potentially fatal to cats
If you want to enjoy many more years with your cat, know that lilies have no place in a cat parent’s home or garden. This is because lilies are extremely toxic to cats and cause life-threatening kidney failure and often result in death.
The lilies we’re talking about are those large, showy blooms 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 toxin causes the kidneys to shut down, and there’s no cure. The best your vet can do is put your cat onto intravenous fluids in the hope of flushing the toxin through and kick-starting the kidneys.
All parts of the plant are dangerous, including the leaves, petals, and stalks. If you think your cat wouldn’t be so foolish as to chew a plant, then think again. The pollen is especially toxic. That fine yellow dusting that drifts down like April showers when you brush past the vase is extremely dangerous. Imagine your cat brushing past, getting pollen on its coat, and then grooming itself.
If you’re lucky enough to receive a bouquet of flowers for Valentine’s Day, for your cat’s safety make sure there are no lilies. If there are lilies in the bouquet, remove them immediately and dispose of them safely.
Beware of roses with thorns
Even the most romantic of all Valentine’s Day symbols, the rose, can cause problems. You guessed it, it’s the thorns on the stem. Rose thorns can get stuck in your cat’s mouth if they chew a stem, or in their paw if stepped on. Sharp rose thorns can cause serious infections if they puncture the skin or something internally if your cat swallows them.
So, arrange those dozen red roses where they can be seen, but be careful. Make sure you remove the woody thorns from the rose stems, and that you de-thorn your roses well out of the way of inquisitive paws.
Delicious but dangerous chocolate
Boxed chocolates are one of the most popular Valentine’s Day gifts and one of the most dangerous for cats. That’s because chocolate contains large amounts of theobromine, a substance which humans can tolerate but cats can’t. Chocolates also contain trace amounts of caffeine, and may include alcohol and nuts.
The theobromine in chocolate acts as a stimulant and can quickly lead to a range of toxicity symptoms including a racing heart, difficulty breathing, seizures, and in the worst possible case, death. Generally, the more cocoa or darker the chocolate, the higher the theobromine content and the greater the risk to your cat. Lighter chocolates (white or milk chocolate) are also dangerous for your cat. They have a higher fat content, which can lead to other life-threatening illnesses including pancreatitis.
With your cat’s safety in mind on Valentine’s Day – you should eat and enjoy the chocolates! But make sure you keep any uneaten chocolates in the cupboard or fridge, out of the reach of greedy paws.
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 candy. But these also are a danger to cats because of the low-calorie substitute for sugar called xylitol.
Cats and dogs can’t tolerate artificial sweeteners such as xylitol which is a key ingredient in sugar-free candy and chewing gum. Xylitol is extremely toxic to pets and causes a sudden drop in their blood sugar levels. It can lead to vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures and even liver failure. This is so serious that cats have been known to go into a coma and die.
Watch out for the chocolate and candy wrappers too, which can present choking hazards in cats.
Alcohol is toxic for cats
Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to toast your relationship and celebrate. But, be careful not to leave glasses of wine or alcohol unattended where your cat might lick it. Cats can be attracted by the sweetness of the smell of alcohol and try an experimental mouthful or two.
Unfortunately, a cat’s small size relative to humans means they are extremely sensitive to alcohol. Cats are much more likely to get alcohol poisoning than you’d think – even the smallest amount of alcohol can cause a lot of harm. It can result in vomiting, diarrhoea, difficulty breathing and even potential respiratory failure and death. So remember, a drunken cat is not funny – it’s a potential disaster in the making.
Spilled wine, half a glass of champagne, some leftover liquor are nothing to cry over until a curious pet laps them up.ASPCA.org
Candles attract curious cats
Candles are great for setting the mood on Valentine’s Day but keep in mind, the dangers for cats. You’ve heard the saying “curiosity killed the cat” – let’s make sure your cat doesn’t injure themself or start a small house fire by putting your cat’s safety first on Valentine’s Day.
Cats are inquisitive, and may be tempted to get too close and investigate a wavering flame. No one likes the smell of singed fur so it’s best to keep those romantic candles well out of paws reach to avoid any accidental burns. Never leave a lit candle unattended in the room.
Instead of burning candles, you may like to use battery operated candles or or string up some lights to create the romantic ambience you’re after.
In addition, some cats are sensitive to the fragrances in scented candles. Although rare, perfumed candles can cause allergic skin reactions that lead to intense itching, or worse still trigger an asthma attack and breathing difficulties.
Ribbons, string and other gift wrapping
That heart-shaped box of chocolates came with a red ribbon tied in a bow. As you dive into the chocolates 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 danger of ribbons on Valentines Day by safely putting them out of your cat’s reach.
Also, be mindful of other gift wrapping hazards. String which could be swallowed or the string handles on paper bags which are a strangulation hazard. Or plastic bags which pose a suffocation risk to cats, if they get stuck inside.
By being aware of the safety risks and taking a few sensible steps to reduce the dangers to your cat, you can all enjoy a happy Valentine’s Day.