The saying ‘curiosity killed the cat’ is rooted in truth. Kittens love to explore and play by chewing, but sometimes they consume things that are harmful to them.
Here’s an alphabet of common household and garden items that can pose a threat to your kitten’s wellbeing.
Alcohol. Alcoholic drinks are toxic to cats and can lead to sickness, diarrhoea and nervous system damage if consumed. Be careful of products that also contain alcohol such as mouthwashes or perfumes.
Bones. Kittens love the smell and taste of animal bones. But chicken, lamb or fish bones are all common causes of obstruction in a cat’s digestive system. Make sure waste bins are secure so that your kitten can’t get in.
Chocolate. Chocolate should never be given to cats, and must be safely stored out of their reach. Kittens are very sensitive to the theobromine found in chocolate because they can’t break it down efficiently.
Dummies. Kittens love the spongy texture of a baby’s dummy or plastic toys when they chew them. They will often bite through it and swallow it, which can cause an obstruction in their throat or stomach. Be careful with things like tubes of glue too.
Ethylene Glycol. Better known as antifreeze, this is the chemical compound found in most types of antifreeze and is very toxic to cats.
Fat balls. The high fat content in fat balls used for wild birds can make them attractive to kittens. But if your kitten eats a fat ball it could result in pancreatitis.
Grapes, currants, raisins and sultanas. Substituting high calorie treats and snacks with fruit and vegetables is fine, but never feed your cat grapes, which contain an as-yet unidentified toxin causing kidney failure. Raisins pose an even higher risk, so keep that fruit cake out of reach!
Herbicides. Plant killing chemicals should be used with caution around your kitten. Most cases of poisoning happen when cats lick, chew or brush up against recently treated plants.
Insecticides. As with herbicides, be careful of using chemicals that kill insects in your garden, as they could be very poisonous to your pet too. Slug pellets can cause poisoning in kittens and symptoms in relation to the nervous system such as seizures. Parasite treatments designed for dogs can also be dangerous to cats.
Jimson weed is just one of many plants and flowers found in a garden or wooded areas that can be poisonous to pets. Azaleas, daffodils, foxgloves and geraniums are just some of the others that are very harmful to kittens.
Kitchen cleaners. Kittens can be attracted to the brightly coloured packaging of household cleaning products and play with or chew them. Many of these products contain caustic substances, detergents and bleaches that can be fatal if consumed.
Lilies. Lilies are very common household flowers. But the stamens where the pollen is can cause liver and kidney damage in cats if they were to lick it.
Mushrooms. There are lots of different types of fungi found in the UK and while some are edible, others can be poisonous to cats and result in an upset stomach, vomiting or liver failure.
Non-prescription medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin and paracetamol can be fatal to kittens. Not just because they’re very small animals, but also because cats don’t have the enzyme in their stomachs that humans use to break these chemicals down.
Onions. Onions and shallots should not be fed to kittens in any form (cooked, raw or as onion powder). They contain thiosulphate which can cause anaemia in cats. Garlic and garlic powder also contain thiosulphate in lower levels.
Permethrin is an ingredient found in some flea spot-on, spray and shampoo treatments made for dogs. It is highly toxic to cats.
Queensland nuts, better known as Macadamia nuts, contain a toxin that can affect a cat’s nervous system and muscles.
Rodenticides. Poisons used to kill rats and mice are highly toxic to cats.
String. Kittens love playing with string, but it can cause a linear foreign body if swallowed. In other words: if gets into the intestines, rather than going around them, it can effectively cheese wire the intestines and cause very serious damage.
Toads. Toads give off a poison from glands on their skin that can be poisonous to pets if they put them in their mouth, bite or lick them.
Unbaked bread dough can be dangerous if eaten by a kitten. When ingested, the dough expands and ferments in the stomach which can result in a bloating as well as poisoning from the fermentation process.
Vitamin D. High levels of vitamin D can cause serious health problems such as kidney failure in cats. Vitamin D is often found in supplement tablets such as cod liver oil and other human medicines, so be sure to keep these away from curious paws.
Wires and cables. Kittens like the chewiness of electrical cables, but not only can they electrocute themselves by doing this, they can also burn their mouths.
Xylitol. This is an artificial sweetener often found in sugar-free sweets, chewing gums and sugar replacements. If your kitten digests one of these sweetened foods they can go into hypoglycaemia which is linked to liver failure and blood clotting.
Yew trees. Eating any part of a yew tree, particularly the foliage, can be harmful to cats and cause dizziness, abdominal cramps and vomiting. In severe cases it can be fatal.
Zinc. Zinc can be toxic to kittens and poisoning tends to happen when they eat zinc-containing metal items such nails, zips, batteries or coins.
If you think your kitten has ingested something harmful then contact your vet as soon as possible.