Sunday, December 05, 2004

Safety First, Unless You're Selling Cat Products!

Call me overprotective. Accuse me of being paranoid. I'm posting this anyway. It seems like a very large percentage of cat products -- from furniture to toys to training aids to kitty litter -- are made without thinking about the health or welfare of the animals they're intended for.

You may recall that we just tossed out of our first kitty condo (after only 3 weeks) because the boys kept pulling out pieces of carpet with glue on them and chewing them. They also risked injury from exposed staples and strips of fiber and plastic string that were just coming off the seams.

Just this evening, Liz and I visited a local Petco to look for a replacement kitty condo. We looked at the various models on the floor, sticking our hands into the little hideaways and feeling around for staples, loose threads, and splinters. We managed to find something dangerous about each and every one. Some had loose pieces of carpet hanging off. Others had splinters of wood coming out. Still others were unstable and looked like they would fall over the first time the boys wrestle on them.

But it's not just kitty condos we have to worry about. After giving up on the idea of buying a kitty condo, we perused the cat toy aisle. Most of the toys had small parts that looked like they could fall off so easily. We saw lots of toy mice with ears and eyes there were lightly glued on. We nearly bought a sissal mouse until we noticed that the manufacturer had spilled glue on top of it. And mind you, this is a mouse that is meant to be chewed.

It doesn't stop with fragile toys and dangerous kitty condos either. In previous posts, I have detailed the dangers of clumping clay litter, the risk of vaccine-induced sarcomas, and the toxic chemicals contained in certain "harmless" training aids.

Clearly, most cats manage to survive and stay healthy despite these risks. But these are unnecessary risks, brought on by irresponsible manufacturers who are more interested in making products that are attractive to humans than ones which are safe for cats. If a crib had staples in it where a toddler could swallow them, it would be recalled in an instant. If a child's teething ring was covered in toxic glue, there would be lawsuits until the end of time.

Here's a unique business idea: how about a pet store that sells only products which are truly safe and truly harmless, even for kittens. How about selling only toys that are clean and impossible to destroy? How about selling only cat furniture that is stable, has no sharp edges, and doesn't shed any little parts or fibers? How about treating cats as living creatures, not as objects that can be replaced when the next unsafe product kills them?

Cat owners have a part to play too. We need to demand better at the pet store and even at the vet. Caring for cats isn't on the same level of difficulty as raising a child, but it is a sacred responsibility, one made more difficult by all these dangerous products.


Muddy, said...

You are right. Pet safety should be taken more seriously.

Anonymous said...

On the safety issue, there is no safety issue more serious than the continued sale of Hartz flea and tick products. I know firsthand because the Hartz 2 in 1 flea and tick collar killed my beloved 7 yr old male yellow tabby on June 2, 2004. Despite numerous reports to hartz, the
EPA, news channels, etc, these products are still on the shelf ready to take the life of the next innocent victim. Both cats and dogs have been injured and killed from all Hartz flea products. The drops are especially notorious for causing harm. is a good place for more info as is www. There is also a petition that anyone can sign (please sign!) at
Nancy Altice

Avram said...

Thank you for posting this. My boys do not have fleas but I had heard of the problems with Hartz and other over-the-counter remedies. If the problem arises, I will go to the vet for an answer.

Anonymous said...

The horrors don't stop there. Many of us gave our cats Science Diet for years thinking that it is the best food out there and all of our vets recomended it. How could it be wrong? There are thousands of us on IBD email lists (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) directly related to feeding our cats based on veterinary recommendations. Just take a look at the list of ingredients on the "prescription diet" bags they sell at the offices! When you learn to take grains, by-products, and meal out of your cat's diet, you find you can no longer buy food at a Petco, PetsMart, or from your veterinarian. There are now more products that have real food in them for our fur children, but it was a very long time in coming.

I'd add "pet food" to your list of things to make safer for animals.

Anonymous said...

I'm incensed! I can relate to the Hartz tragedy and I wonder if Advantix is any better. This year was an especially bad year for fleas and ticks due to the moderate climate and my dog had to be rushed for an emergency vet visit and given IV fluids to dilute the chemicals in his system. I thought he would die!

Symptoms included rapid heart rate, fever, and irregular breathing. I asked my friend whether she had noticed any similar syptoms with her Bichon and she indicated that he panted heavily all day.

None of my friends reported any symptoms with cats, but I have to think that it can't be good to introduce a pesticide that works with the animals natural oils to spread the poison all over its body in order to kill the pests when they bite.

Has anyone else experienced anything similar? The package insert doesn't describe any of the symptoms I mentioned above and claims it's safe.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the information on the clumping cat litter. My cat developed a blockage in her stomach, all tests were coming out negative - I did some research and found your comments and several others about the cat litter and I'm convinced that the lump in her stomach is clay. If I had listened to the first vet that I took her to,I"m sure she would have eventually died. She gave her an appetive inducer and NOTHING to speed up her digestion! What did she think, that this undigested lump would go away on it's own with more food being piled on top of it???
She is doing better now and I've changed to a different litter to prevent this from ever happening again. I'm thankful that I caught it before it was too late and before I brought a baby kitten into the family as I've read that the clumping litter can kill a very small kitten very quickly.

Chandra said...

Thanks for your posting! My 9 month old kitty just had surgery last night, to remove an obstruction in his small instestines. This obstruction ended up being a small tail part from a toy mouse that we played with him with. I am furious at these toy makers and want to stop them! We thought we were careful and only played with these toys as a family. Our cats will now be restricted to tennis balls, plastic ping pong balls, and a thick piece of string.
Please be carefull when purchasing cat toys!