Is Your Space Safe For Your Cat? We Did Some Research On Behalf Of Our Furry Friends.
I’m a cat mom. I have two cats and they are basically my children (I often say they came from my womb… it’s a lot). Anyway, as an animal lover, non-toxic lifer and cat mama, I always want to be sure that I am creating the best space for my little ones. There are so many things we use in our daily lives for both ourselves and our fur babies that are super hazardous to their health.
I may be cat mom, but I am also an aspiring plant mom! I would love to have a house filled to the brim with green. There is a lot to consider when introducing plants into a cat home. First, of course, I am weary of cacti as my cats like to rub their face on literally everything (I would hope they would be smart enough to stay away, but you never know). Spikes aren't the only dangers of houseplants, though. A lot of really common houseplants can be super toxic and even lethal for your kitties. The ASPCA has an extremely exhaustive list of any and all plants that are potentially dangerous, but it’s a little overwhelming. To get you started I took out some common toxic and non-toxic houseplants and flowers.
Toxic: Aloe, Baby’s Breath, Ivy (many varieties), Lillies (many varieties), Mistletoe, Poinsettias, Tulips, and common herbs like Chamomile, Mint, and Oregano.
Non-Toxic: African Violet, Echeveria (and other varieties of succulents), Ferns, Orchids, Palms (many varieties), Roses, Spider Plant, and herbs like Basil, Dill, Sage, and Thyme.
If your cats are indoor/outdoor, there’s no need to freak out and rip up all the plants in your garden or neighborhood. Cats are going to nibble and play with a whole host of different plants, that’s just in their nature! This is more about taking caution into what you bring into your home.
If you think about it, it’s pretty obvious that conventional cat litter would be toxic: it has fragrance, chemicals that make it clump, silica gel which is a known carcinogen to humans and animals, and it often contains a lot of dust.
Kitty litter is a tough one. There are so many variations and there are pluses and minuses with all of them. The best bet is to definitely avoid clay clumping or silica based litters. As far as plant-based litters go, you really need to figure out what works best for you. Or, you could always train your cat to use the toilet like Mr. Jinx! (Yes, this is a legitimate suggestion).
If you're familiar with what we do here at Non Toxic Revolution, then you're most likely already pretty knowledgeable about toxic household products. It should come as no surprise that many of our concerns around household cleaners and the like are the same, or even more so, for our pets. Because our animals tend to put things in their mouths, lick or clean their paws, or come into more direct contact with surfaces, they often face a higher risk from the toxins in our homes.
Stick to your favorite store-bought or DIY non-toxic household cleaners to ensure the safest homes for your furry little dudes.
You’ve probably heard of chocolate being toxic for dogs, but did you know it is for cats as well? Among other poisonous foods are alcohol, caffeine, grapes, garlic, onions, dairy products (they’re lactose intolerant!), and raw eggs, meat, and fish.
If you haven’t already, you should check out our blog about dog food. A lot of the problems with dog food goes the same for cats: low-quality ingredients, animal meal or by-product meal, high in grains, tons of corn or corn meal, preservatives and other chemicals, etc. When buying the best cat food it is important to look out for these things: grain-free, organic ingredients, whole meats and animal byproducts, vegetables.
It’s unfortunate, but a lot of pet toys can be quite dangerous, too. These dangers range anywhere from choking hazards to lead contamination. The reasons these dangers exist is because pet toys do not face any regulations for pet safety standards. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find any sure scientific information regarding toxins in cat toys - most of the info come from organic cat companies trying to sell you their products. However, just keeping in mind that common toys - just like so many common products - pose risks of carrying toxins or choking hazards is beneficial. We suggest doing the best you can to buy organic toys, stay wary of potential choking hazards (especially for kittens), and consider buying only US made toys. This is because many findings suggest that toys made elsewhere, like China, are more likely to be toxic. Again, this is not hard evidence, just speculation. There is, however, lots of research about dog toys and safety, so it could be a good idea to apply those same principals to your feline!
Flea and Tick Medications
We obviously don’t want to put chemicals on our animals, but we don’t want them to get chewed up by fleas and ticks either, as they can lead to some nasty health problems - not to mention how uncomfortable they can be. So what do we do to prevent this? We give them flea and tick medications. There is no shortage of flea and tick topical, collars, spray, and powders, but it turns out there are can be some problems with these medications, too.
Many of the common products we use to prevent or treat fleas and ticks are potentially toxic to both our animals and us! Woman’s Day published an article on “The 5 Most Toxic Items at Pet Stores” and guess what, they’re ALL flea and tick products! It appears that one should pretty much avoid common collars, sprays (both indoor and outdoor), shampoos, and powder. Luckily, there are a lot of alternatives to these, especially if you're just trying to prevent fleas and ticks. Non-toxic prevention tips include regularly brushing your animals with a fine tooth comb, washing animal bedding in hot water once a week, vacuuming carpet, furniture and animal bedding, and a good diet.
In terms of treatment, there are supplements like flea treats, black walnut, safer powders like diatomaceous earth, DIY nontoxic insect repellent, and more.
Completely changing your pet care routine can seem like a really daunting task. If you are someone who wants to stick to more traditional things like topical medication, keep in mind that many of the issues affiliated with these medications are from user error. The two most important things are ensuring you have the right product and applying it correctly. For example, when using topical medication, you need to apply it high on your cat’s neck where they cannot easily rub or lick it off. By the right medication, I mean make sure it is intended for your animal! There is a really big difference between dog and cat flea medications. There are chemicals like pyrethrin and pyrethroid which are highly toxic for cats but not for dogs. DO NOT use the same flea medication for your dogs and cats!
Just Do Your Best
This is a lot of information, I know. What I suggest is to apply the same principles you do for yourself for your cats! (In fact, I may even care more about my cats’ health than my own - they are my children, after all). There are a lot of great resources out there and though they may not all be scientific fact, the general mindset of non-toxic living should be kept in mind for your animals. In the end, it’s all about having the best and healthiest homes for ourselves and our loved ones.
Bree is a vegan, coffee and beer loving, intersectional feminist who is particularly invested in health. She has a degree in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from CSULB, where she spent her time turning her passions into academic activism. When she’s not busy spreading awareness on living a non toxic lifestyle, she is most likely taking a long bath, cooking extravagant vegan food, or crying about dogs.