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Dear Christopher Cat

It’s time for spring cleaning, but I don’t want to poison my indoor cat while I’m purging my home of winter’s dust, dirt and grime. How do I thoroughly clean my home without harming my cat?

Christopher Responds

Start by reading the labels on cleaning agents before you buy them. Words like “danger” and “warning” indicate the product is riskier than one that says “caution.”

Always follow the directions. If the label advises you to keep pets away until the product dries, do so.

The most dangerous cleaning agents are toilet bowl cleaners, drain cleaners, lye, calcium/lime removers and rust removers. These can cause chemical burns and corrosive injuries, so be sure the containers are closed tightly and stored securely.

Glass sprays, surface cleaners and carpet deodorizers are quite safe, especially once they’re dry or vacuumed. Small amounts may irritate the skin, cause sneezing or coughing if inhaled, or trigger vomiting and diarrhea if ingested, so it’s best to keep the containers out of your cat’s reach.

You might assume “natural” cleaning products are safer than traditional cleaners, but that’s not always the case. They can be toxic as well, so treat them as you would standard cleaning products.

If you have birds, bear in mind that they are particularly sensitive to aerosolized chemicals and fragrances. It’s best not to use these products in a room where birds live.

Finally, you can disregard the old Internet rumors about Swiffer and Febreze. When used according to the directions, these products are safe in homes with pets.

If your cat gets into a cleaning product, immediately contact your veterinarian, the Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435, or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.


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