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What If Your Cat Eats Something It Should Not Have Eaten

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Our cat Misty giving Dixie a kiss on top of her head. These two are best buddies now, and they keep Mommy company all day when I'm working here at home.

Our cat Misty giving Dixie a kiss on top of her head. These two are best buddies now, and they keep Mommy company all day when I'm working here at home.

Hair elastics, I'm not sure why, but cats are notoriously attracted to these things!

Hair elastics, I'm not sure why, but cats are notoriously attracted to these things!

Keep cats AWAY from onions or garlic (or chives).

Keep cats AWAY from onions or garlic (or chives).

Keep kitty away from coffee, never let them have caffeine, it is poisonous to them in large amounts.

Keep kitty away from coffee, never let them have caffeine, it is poisonous to them in large amounts.

It's best to keep cats away from grapes and raisins as well. Small amounts make them ill, large amounts can lead to kidney failure.

It's best to keep cats away from grapes and raisins as well. Small amounts make them ill, large amounts can lead to kidney failure.

One time, Our Cat, Dixie, Ate Part Of A Hair Elastic!

You might look around your house and think that it's a pretty safe place for your cat. I'm only going to focus on cats here, but many of these same things could also be applied to dogs. Our home is generally very safe for our cats. We do our best to keep things that could be harmful to them out of their reach. But every once in a while... they find something they shouldn't have and attempt to eat it, and sometimes they succeed.

Our cats, Dixie and Misty are both around six years old. In that time, I can count on one hand the number of times they have gotten a hold of something they shouldn't have. And I can only remember a couple of times that Dixie actually ate something she shouldn't have! Misty has been very good, I've never had an issue with her. But CHOW HOUND Dixie... she's another story! She is the one that potentially might eat anything that doesn't try to eat HER first!

I work at home, writing articles for the internet, and as a result I usually have paper by the computer and sometimes a pen. I try to always remember to put the pen away if I'm going to leave for a bit, like to take a shower. BUT, one day I did forget to put the pen away, and caught DIXIE with it in her MOUTH running across the room. She has a strange fascination for pens! I think it is the cap she likes.

At any rate, I do not let her have them. She dropped the pen, so what did Mommy do? Grabbed the camera, snapped her picture and sent a picture of the "pen thief" to my husband. Along with a caption that read something like "YOUR CAT..." After that, I did take the pen away from her. Crazy cat!

Then, just recently, she got a hold of a hair elastic (the kind you use to put your hair in a ponytail) and ran with it. She has a habit of jumping up on the vanity and watching me whenever I do anything to my hair, so I have to be super careful to keep ANYTHING potentially harmful away from her. And 99 percent of the time she just sits and watches and doesn't try to touch anything. This day, she took OFF with a hair elastic! Since this happened, I now keep the elastic in the drawer until I am actually going to put it in my hair, or I wrap it around my wrist until I'm ready to use it!

She took off, went to "hide" by the closet door and proceeded to CHEW it like it was delicious. I grabbed it from her, and realized 1/2 of it was MISSING! Hoping the missing piece was underneath the closet door, I opened that, NOPE, no piece of hair elastic! So, I did a somewhat frantic search of the internet to see if there were any posts about cats eating hair elastics and was amazed that cats seem to LOVE these things! Not only that, they love rubber bands as well.

Most articles said to simply wait it out, see if it comes out the ...other end... in a day or two. SO, I ended up watching her for a couple of days like a hawk, making sure she was eating and behaving normally, she was. You want to be sure whatever they ate doesn't get caught in their intestines, or become wrapped around anything. This is especially a concern with long pieces of string like dental floss. Some cats will go after dental floss. Ours never have, but some are attracted to that. She was using the litter box just fine as well. So, I did the next recommended thing. I waited to see if it came out in the litter box.

Sunday morning she jumped into bed to snuggle like she usually does in the morning, and I noticed a string coming out of her butt...DANG! From what I read, if that happens you are not supposed to pull on it... just cut it off, or let it come out naturally next time they use their litter box. She ended up using the litter box a short time later, and VOILA, there it was! WHEW! We dodged that bullet. I was going to cut it off, but she wouldn't let me near her butt... ehem... I wasn't that anxious to get close anyway. At least it DID come out, though, so I knew it was OK.

If your cat DOES eat something they shouldn't, the best advice is always to watch them closely. Try to determine what it was that they ate, and how much of it they ate for your own information, and for the veterinarian's information if you do take them to the vet. I read on an internet forum about one cat that ate an entire BAG of rubber bands. In that case, take the cat directly to the veterinarian, don't even mess around if they've eaten something so obviously dangerous.

In our case, though, I think it was OK to wait for it to "come out" a couple of days later. She had done something similar once before when she was a kitten. She had gotten a hold of some string we were using for a craft project, and chewed some of it and ate some... at that time we weren't sure exactly how much she ate, but we determined that it wasn't very much. I don't remember seeing that come out later, but I'm sure it did.

I was reading on the internet about cats eating things they shouldn't and discovered that there are actually foods that we eat that cats NEVER should eat, or drinks they never should drink! One of those things is coffee due to the caffeine. Dixie likes to be near me in the morning when I'm drinking coffee. She waits until the coffee is cool and there is only a little left, and sometimes I catch her attempting to put her PAW in my cup to get at it. I think the attraction is the creamer I use. I now have to keep my coffee on a high counter up and AWAY from her. I don't set it down near the computer. I have never let her have coffee, I think she is attracted to the smell of the creamer.

I also read that you should NEVER let a cat have not only coffee but any other type of food containing caffeine as well, because they can get caffeine poisoning. That can lead to restlessness, muscle tremors, cat walking on the ceiling... (ok, I made that one up), but it CAN be fatal to cats in a large enough amount, so NEVER let them have caffeine!

Other common foods that cats may be attracted to but they should never have include tuna that is meant for humans. Small amounts might be OK, but in large amounts, it could lead to malnutrition or even mercury poisoning.

Never let them have onions, garlic or chives either. Onion poisoning can occur whether onions are cooked, raw or in the form of an onion powder. These things break down a cats red blood cells and can eventually lead to anemia.

Milk is also not good for adult cats. Kittens can tolerate it, but adults will often have digestive upsets from it.

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Another thing to keep totally AWAY from cats is alcohol. Did you know that as little as two teaspoons of whiskey can put a 5 lb. cat into a coma? And just one more teaspoon can be fatal? If you do have alcoholic drinks in your home, keep the glasses away from all animals, cats as well as any other animals. We don't have this concern, we generally don't have alcohol in the house and it would be a rare occasion if we did have it. But if you sometimes entertain and have guests that have left glasses setting around, be diligent about picking them up and dumping any leftover alcohol.

Grapes and raisins are also bad for cats to have. Our cat, Dixie, loves to play with the STEMS of grapes, but she never begs for the grapes or even tries to eat those. She DOES love those stems though! Sometimes we give the stem to her to play with when we are done with the grapes, but we always make sure to get it BACK from her and toss it when she is done playing so she doesn't eat it.

Other things to always keep away from cats are chewing gum and candy. The xylitol in those can be deadly to cats, causing their insulin level to drop dangerously low and could lead to liver failure if ingested in a large amount. Keep gum in a drawer and candy out of reach where they cannot get to it.

Any kind of raw food should be kept away from cats, such as raw eggs, fish or meats. They might be tempted to try to eat them, but keep them away. The same dangers that can occur in humans can also occur in cats, food poisoning from salmonella or E. Coli among them.

And never let a cat eat raw dough made with yeast. It can expand in their stomach and cause pain. Eventually the yeast could ferment, causing a type of alcohol poisoning.

Keep your home as safe as possible for your pets, and you'll enjoy many years of wonderful companionship and entertainment from your furry buddies. I know our cats are my co-workers right now since I work from home, and I would be terribly upset if anything was to harm them in any way. They are such wonderful company for me. Even when some days things get a little hairy at home with my co-workers, it's all good. I love having them here with me.

I am NOT a veterinarian or associated with any other pet health occupation. If your cat has eaten something they shouldn't have and you are not sure what to do, it is ALWAYS BEST to "err on the side of caution" and take them to a vet. Don't take anything I've written here as medical advice, this is meant to be purely informational and shared from my personal experience, by someone who is a pet lover. :)

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Keep This Phone Number Handy In Case Your Cat Eats Something Potentially Poisonous

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (888) 426-4435

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And be sure to keep your veterinarian's emergency phone number someplace easily accessible in an emergency. We always keep our vet's phone number on the refrigerator. Better yet, have it programmed into your phone on speed dial, it's always best to be safe.



KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on June 27, 2012:

You're welcome! :) Glad to help! :)

melatoday from Adelanto, CA on June 27, 2012:

You also gave me some great ideas for some hubs, so thanks.

KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on June 27, 2012:

Aww, I'm so sorry that happened to your kittens! I always try to stop ours if I see them chasing a spider. We've only lived here about a year and I'm not sure what KIND of spiders they are chasing!

I had heard that Brown Recluse spiders are common in Nevada and I sure don't want to see either of our kitties get bitten by one, I guess they are nasty! I don't think we've seen any yet. I think the ones I've seen so far are just garden variety spiders. Better to be safe, though!

Your Calico sounds like a little Miss Personality for sure! :) Amazing what they'll try to get into! :)

melatoday from Adelanto, CA on June 27, 2012:

My cats can be so insane. My 4 year old calico is very affectionate and one time she tried to tear into a sealed bag of Flamin' Hot Cheetos. When I tried to stop her and cover the bag, she scratched my hand and ripped a gash in the bag too.

On a sadder note, in a previous apartment we lived in, we had somehow developed a black widow infestation. One 2 1/2 month old kitten went missing in a very remote area of our 1 bedroom apt, and when we found his body, it was near a large web with two VERY well fed black widows living there. Around the same time, a sibling of this kitten fell ill mysteriously and based on the way she died, I think she might have actually caught a black widow, eaten it, and was bit internally.

Some times cats get into hazardous stuff and it turns out to be more of a funny moment than a bad one, but other times, they can get into some extremely dangerous things and it can end up being fatal.

Thanks for writing this hub, Kathy!

KathyH (author) from Waukesha, Wisconsin on June 26, 2012:

Thanks so much, Matt! :) Glad you learned something and thank you very much for your encouraging words. Very much appreciated! :)

mattdigiulio from Los Angeles on June 26, 2012:

Hi there, I did not know that grapes were harmful to cats. I have been a lifelong fan of felines, so this Hub touched home especially for me. This is well written, and you have a true writer's voice. Voting up. Matt D.

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