Cats,  Medium

Being a Cat Parent Means Paying Attention to Every Little Thing

Even mundane, everyday objects can pose a hazard to your cat

I’ve been inundated with cat problems lately. Luckily none of them have to do with my cats directly, although I’ve had my fair share of close calls with my youngest cat, Copper. Being responsible for adorable little purring machines has its ups and downs, and sometimes those downs can come from the most unlikely of places.

If you are familiar with cats, you’ll understand how accurate the saying “curiosity killed the cat” truly is. It’s a bit of a morbid thought, but cats are incredibly curious creatures — sometimes to their detriment. Being a cat means spending your days living in luxury, yes (oh how I wish I could sleep all day and not have to cook my meals), but it also means doing a lot of exploring. Personalities vary from cat to cat, of course, but many cats like to sniff, inspect, and probably sit on or in any new object you bring into your home. If your cat is like Copper, they’ll think any new Amazon box is a five-start resort. If your cat is like my other feline friend, Cinders, they’ll think every object on the floor is food to be consumed (yes, including all sorts of bugs and debris stomped in on the bottom of your shoe.) As you might imagine, this level of curiosity can sometimes be dangerous as cats don’t always know what is good for them and what could cause them irreparable harm.

I recently faced this reality with not one, not two, but three different reminders that being a cat parent means paying attention to every little thing to prevent your furry feline companion(s) from causing themselves harm.

Flowers might be a girl’s dream gift, but they are a cat’s worse nightmare.

My birthday was earlier in October, and my father, being the considerate person that he is, gave me a festive fall bouquet from the store on my birthday weekend. The flowers were gorgeous and autumn-themed (my favorite season, and not just because it happens to be when I was born), but I immediately knew that I needed to do a deep dive on Google into whether or not the bouquet would be safe for my cats.

If the thought has never crossed your mind to check the safety of your house plants or gifted bouquets for your cats, let this be your reminder. Unfortunately, some plants and flowers are downright deadly to cats. The worst offender is a beautiful and readily available addition to many floral bouquets: lilies. Even minor exposure to traditional lilies can send cats into kidney failure, and it’s often not caught until it’s too late (although getting your cat to the vet ASAP can help to treat any exposure to the dangerous toxin.)

My bouquet featured some flowers that looked deceptively like traditional lilies but, in fact, were not the same. A few flowers commonly used in floral arrangements are not deadly to cats like lilies, but look close enough that they can cause a double-take. The flowers in my bouquet were Peruvian lilies (also known by their scientific name Alstromeria) and, while not life-threatening to cats, are known to be mildly toxic and cause stomach upset. Definitely not something I wanted my cats to experience!

When I brought the bouquet home, I watched carefully to see if the cats would try to eat the flowers. Sure enough, Copper got a little too cozy with the bouquet, so I decided to leave my birthday flowers high up on my bookshelf where the cats can’t climb. Luckily, no flowers were consumed and all’s well that ends well.

TikTok is a wealth of information

Oddly enough, the day after receiving my bouquet, I saw a TikTok from someone who had lost their cat due to lily exposure. It was heartbreaking to hear their story — I can’t imagine how difficult that must be to go through. I don’t know if TikTok knew I was Googling which flowers were toxic to cats or if it simply knew I liked content about cats (I will admit that probably 95% of my likes on the app are of cute kitten and cat videos). Still, the heartwrenching story of a cat that had encountered lilies and wasn’t able to be saved has undoubtedly warned hundreds, if not thousands, of other cat parents about the dangers storebought bouquets can potentially pose to their cats. 

I find that I learn more than you’d ever expect on TikTok when it comes to caring for my cats. Countless rescue organizations, fellow cat parents, and even veterinarians share their knowledge on the app, and sometimes a silly little one-minute video can teach me something I would have never learned otherwise about caring for my furry friends!

Baby proofing your home isn’t just for babies

Another thing that happened, all in the span of a few days, is that I witnessed Copper climbing into the cabinet underneath my kitchen sink. While he does occasionally enjoy a foray into a closed cabinet, I’ve never seen Copper get into the cabinet under the sink where I keep all of my cleaning supplies. I’ve started to slowly switch to safer cleaning products over the past year or so — I don’t like having to worry about inhaling fumes or keeping the cats away from a freshly cleaned surface. However, that doesn’t mean everything in the cabinet under my sink is safe for Copper to explore.

For the first time since having cats (which has been since I was about ten years old), I had to purchase baby locks for my cabinet doors! I felt a little silly purchasing them without a baby at home, but my cats are my babies and I want to protect them. I’m only using locks on the one cabinet (for now) and have put any products that are not cat-friendly in the same spot so I can ensure Copper won’t get into something he shouldn’t.

Having cats is one of the best things on the planet, don’t get me wrong! I love my furry little friends so dang much, and that’s why I want to keep them safe. Sometimes curiosity can kill the cat, and I want to do all that is humanly possible to prevent that from happening.

Although I’ve been a cat parent for much of my life at this point, I am still learning new ways to take care of my feline companions every day. I hope this helps you learn about new ways to take care of your cats because, as the title says, being a cat parent means paying attention to every little thing.

Previously published in Creatures

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