Everyone wants their homes to smell fresh and clean, but what if the chemicals used in common household cleaning products were poisonous to cats? New research into Phenols, artificial fragrances, ammonia and more chemicals found in common products has lead researchers to believe they could be harmful to animals.
Firstly, Phenols are found in most pine-scented products, and any cleaner with ‘sol’ in the name. This chemical can be found in floor cleaners and disinfectants, paint and varnish removers, synthetic resin and rubber adhesives. These chemicals can get into a cats system after walking across recently cleaned floors and then licking their paws, or they can inhale the disinfectants. The product can cause burns and hyperventilation, and even destroy the proteins in cat’s cells, causing liver, heart and kidney damage.
Artificial fragrances can be found in pretty much every single cleaning product, such as laundry detergent, dryer sheets, carpet and spray deodorizers for air and fabric, fabric softeners, air fresheners – even pet odour removers. However, some cats who are exposed to these chemicals can develop skin and respiratory allergies.
Ammonia is a common chemical found in oven and window cleaners, and it irritates mucus membranes, specifically the mouth, nose and eyes. Furthermore, the mixture of chlorine and ammonia creates chlorine gas, hydrochloric acid and other extremely dangerous chemicals. These chemicals are potentially fatal to humans, but chlorine gas, for example, settles near floors, therefore making exposure to pets more likely.
Chlorine is another commonly used chemical, found in bleach, toilet bowl cleaners, disinfectant wipes, all-purpose cleaners, mildew removers and dishwashing detergents. Cats can develop eye and skin irritation and respiratory problems, and if ingested, mouth and oesophageal burns.
Furthermore, some insecticides found in flea treatments and dog shampoos, as well as bug spray or ant power, contain permethrins. Cats exposed to this can get muscle tremors, seizures, drooling, fever, dilated pupils, and a loss of coordination.
Lastly, naphthalene, found in mothballs, leads to vomiting and diarrhoea, as well as an increase in drinking an urination, and in some cases seizures. Exposure or ingestion of this chemical can be life threatening.
So, what can you do?
Non-toxic, plant based, fragrance free, biodegradable cleaners – there is a large market of such products that do the job just as well. For window cleaners, use white vinegar and water to get the same result, and use cedar instead of mothballs! Also, sometimes just opening a window can get rid of a bad smell – if you find it necessary to get an air freshener, do your research beforehand to ensure it is safe for your pets.