Fall is a favorite time of year for a lot of people – the colors of the leaves begin to change, the air gets crisp and cozy, and Halloween and Christmas are both right around the corner. It can be a great time to connect with our pets, too, with plenty of opportunities for brisk dog walks or fireside cuddles with cats.
But as lovely as the season can be, it also brings with it a number of hazards that can be dangerous for our precious pets – especially our furry, purry, feline friends. With that in mind, here are seven fall dangers that can harm your cat to be aware of and keep an eye out for.
1) Fallen Leaves
While leaves may look harmless – and even pretty – in the fall, they can actually pose a serious threat to cats. That’s because leaves may contain harmful mold and bacteria, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal issues if ingested. Smoke and oils from burnt leaves can also irritate a cat’s skin, eyes, and nose, so it’s best to avoid burning leaves on your property.
If you have leaves in your yard or garden that your cat likes to lounge in or play with, make sure to rake them up regularly and dispose of them properly. If you use chemical products on your plants or lawn (like fertilizers or pesticides), be extra careful. These can be extremely toxic to cats if they come into contact with them.
2) Mushrooms and Poisonous Plants
Leaves aren’t the only fall dangers underfoot – autumn is also mushroom season. Many varieties of mushrooms are poisonous to cats (and dogs), and can cause serious health problems if ingested, including liver damage, kidney failure, and even death.
If you have mushrooms growing in your yard, make sure to remove them as soon as possible. Some plants that are risky for your cat around this time of year include ivy, which can cause skin irritation, or rhubarb leaves, which are toxic to cats (and humans!) if eaten.
If you’re planning on doing any fall gardening or landscaping, do your research first to make sure the plants you’re using are safe for cats. And as always, keep an eye on your kitty when they’re outside. If they start acting strangely after being in a certain area of your yard, it’s possible they’ve ingested something they shouldn’t have.
3) Halloween and Party Decorations
Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations can be a lot of fun, but they can also be dangerous for curious cats. Things like streamers, confetti, ribbons, and tinsel can all be swallowed by cats, and can cause serious health problems if they’re not digested properly.
Getting surgery to remove these things from your cat’s stomach is no fun for anyone involved. So, if you’re decorating for the holidays this year, make sure to keep all decorations out of reach of your feline friend.
Halloween candy should also be kept well out of reach of prying paws. Chocolate is especially dangerous as it contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which can affect your cat’s heart and central nervous system.
If you’re planning on passing out candy this Halloween, make sure to keep it well away from your feline friend – and maybe pick up some special cat treats instead!
4) Fall Weather, Storms, and Ice
Fall weather can be unpredictable. One day it’s sunny and mild, and the next there’s a cold snap or a storm blowing through. This can be stressful for cats, as they like to stick to their usual routines and don’t always take well to change.
If the weather takes a turn for the worse this fall, make sure to keep your cat indoors where it’s safe and warm, as they could easily develop frostbite on their ears, paws, and tail. Staying inside will also help protect your cat from the dangers of frozen ponds and lakes, which can be tempting for cats to explore but are extremely dangerous.
Cats are also attracted to heat sources in cooler weather, so be careful of leaving space heaters or fireplaces unattended. If your cat gets too close, they could easily get burned, so it’s best to keep an eye on them (and use a pet-safe gate if necessary).
5) Salt and Other De-Icing Chemicals
As the temperatures start to drop, many people turn to salt and other deicing chemicals to prevent accidents on slippery surfaces like sidewalks and driveways. But the downside is that these products can be harmful or even deadly to cats.
If your cat ingests salt or another de-icer, it could cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and even kidney damage. So if you use these products around your home, make sure to keep your cat away from them. It’s also important to clean their paws off as soon as they come inside, in case they’ve picked up any residue.
There are some safer alternatives to traditional deicing products that you can use instead, such as sand or kitty litter. Just be sure not to use any products containing antifreeze, as this is especially dangerous to cats and can cause serious health problems if ingested.
6) Cars and Other Vehicles
Cars and other vehicles are one of the most common dangers to cats, and it’s not just the risk of being hit that you need to worry about. As the weather gets colder, cats sometimes seek out warm spots to curl up in – like the engine of a car that’s been sitting in the sun all day.
If you start your car without checking first, you could end up injuring or even killing your cat. So before you get in your vehicle this fall, take a quick look around to make sure there are no feline friends hiding nearby.
You should also be aware of the fact that cats sometimes like to sleep under vehicles. If you’re backing out of your driveway or parking spot, make sure to check for sleeping kitties before you start moving.
The final hazard on our list is rodenticide, which is a type of poison that’s used to kill rats and mice. This can be dangerous for cats because they might eat the rodents that have been poisoned, or they could even consume the poison itself if it’s left out in an accessible area.
When ingested, rodenticide can cause serious symptoms, including internal bleeding, kidney damage, and even death. That’s why it’s best to avoid using this type of product if you have cats, and to keep them away from any areas where it might be used.
If you suspect that your cat has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately. It’s vital to act fast, as the sooner you get treatment, the better the chances are for a full recovery.
Richard is a copywriter and content creator who works with pet and veterinary businesses. When he’s not researching, writing, or creating content plans, he enjoys spending time with his rescue dog, Otto, and exploring new places. Check out his blog for savvy pet parents at richardrowlands.com.