Safe Household Products to Use Around Cats
Why you should avoid these Top 5 Household Offenders to your cat’s health
Welcome to the “Healthier Cat Detox Series” Part One
Earth Month is an excellent time to take stock of common household products that are toxic for your cat, you, and the Earth
As a cat lover, you want to keep your cat safe from these common household offenders to your cat’s health, your health, and well, the Earth’s health as well. Your cat’s liver and kidneys are already working hard to detox everyday toxins in carpeting, pressed particle board in furniture, vaccines, flea products, the air, etc. Studies show indoor air is much more toxic than the outdoor air!
Did you know that a cat’s sense of smell is 14 times stronger than ours? They have about 20 million nerve cells in their noses, compared to 5 million in ours! Wow! So just imagine if something is offensive or strong smelling to you, how much more intense it must be for your cat. So, let’s do all we can to reduce their exposure (and yours!) to toxins and in turn, help keep their immune systems stronger and healthier with safer products to use instead.
Top 5 Household Offenders to Your Cat’s Health
There are more than five household products that contain toxic chemicals, but these are my Top 5 of the most widely and frequently used. The more frequent a product is used, the more often poisons are being poured into the air your cat — and you — breathe, as well as poured down the drains and into the waterway, which makes it way to our precious oceans.
#1 and #2 – Plug-In Air Fresheners and Spray Air Fresheners
Plug-in air fresheners are emitting chemicals 24/7. They require something to disperse and carry the scent. That something is a chemical called pthalates. Pthalates are known to cause:
- hormone imbalances
- reproductive problems
The plug-ins leave a very thin oily film on everything nearby, including the floor your baby is walking on. And when your cat grooms, the residue of this oily film is ingested. In addition, the chemicals and synthetic fragrance are inhaled and are irritants to the lungs and nasal passages, so they really should be avoided in those that have allergies and asthma.
Spray air fresheners, including those labeled “natural” and “unscented,” contain phthalates, just as the plug-in air fresheners.
They also contain 1,4 di-chlorobenzene (also found in toilet fresheners and moth balls). This chemical is carcinogenic. It is used to attack the receptors in the nose, eliminating your sense of smell. So, you are tricked into thinking there are no odors in your home. This chemical, 1,4 di-chlorobenzene, is also the main ingredient used to make DDT, DDD and DDE. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be exposed to anything to with DDT. Remember the Bald Eagles and DDT disaster?
What You Can Use Instead of Plug-in and Spray Air Fresheners
1. Keep the kitchen clean, take the trash out, and keep the litter box clean. This might sound like obvious, but if you think your house smells bad for some reason, this might be why.
2. Use an air purifier/ionizer. These ionize the air, freshening it like ocean air. I used to have one, and yes, they really do make the air smell fresh like ocean air. The way it works is to draw positive ions to it. Positive ions are actually “negative,” such as dust, allergens, nasty odors, chemicals, pollen, mold, smoke, pet dander, and other airborne irritants.They then disperse negative ions, which are “positives,” creating the fresh air. I know, it’s kind of confusing. Some of them have UVGI technology which also kills germs, viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms that cause disease. They are a good investment, and you can check one out at the resource list at the end of this article.
3. Bamboo Charcoal Odor Absorbers/Eliminators. These gems work better than baking soda to absorb odors. Bamboo charcoal odor absorbers also remove moisture from the air, shoes, and closets. You will want ones that are non-toxic in linen bags. Check out one below in the resource list.
4. Make your own sprays, buy pre-made sprays, or use a fan operated diffuser using essential oils. If you are really compelled to add fragrance to your home, pure essential oils are a great replacement for synthetic air fresheners. I’m not too hip on the ultrasonic misting atomizers/humidifiers. I tried one, and it definitely works as far as output. For me, in the center living room of an 1,100 square foot home, one was way too strong. I got a headache, despite using aromatherapy for more than 20 years. The mini fan-operated diffuser is much more mild, quiet, and takes little space. They run on batteries, and some can run on a USB charger (mine does). You place 2-3 drops of essential oils on the included pad and the scent is dispersed by way of the fan blowing over the pad. I love AirScense, a spray air freshener made of pure essential oil of orange, lime, lavender or vanilla. It’s non-aerosol, no pthalates, no synthetic fragrance. Many essential oil companies also make spray air fresheners. Be sure to use pure essential oils, NOT “fragrance oils,” which are synthetic.
PLEASE NOTE: I do not recommend continuous use of essential oils around cats. For example, in a plug-in for essential oils or the misting atomizers. The molecules of the oils are dispersed into the air, and the output is just way too strong for cats. There is much controversy around cats and essential oils. Some cats are okay with them, some not. They lack a liver enzyme to process the compounds in essential oils. (Another one of those special unique characteristics of a cat!) But spraying into the air or toilet occasionally will be okay. Also, the fan-operated diffuser is not dispersing actual molecules that can enter a cat’s nasal passages. It is simply blowing the scent off the pad into the air. And it lessens over time to barely any scent. I’ve actually left mine on all day by accident while I was gone. When I returned home, there was just a very light and pleasant scent of lemongrass. Check out one below.
#3 – All Purpose Cleaners/Disinfectants
Commercial all purpose cleaners and disinfectants are full of chemicals, synthetic dyes and strong synthetic fragrances. A residue is left behind on countertops and stove tops. Your kitty will pick up this residue on their paw pads. Then comes grooming — and ingesting the residue. Plus, they are inhaling the fumes. While I always recommend eco-friendly products, I have found lots of them have a pretty strong odor as well that just does not smell too safe to me. As far as disinfectants, I believe scare tactics are used by companies to make us believe disinfecting is necessary to use on a regular basis. I mean, if we are brainwashed into thinking we have to disinfect everything all the time, the corporations make more money.
I think of disinfecting this way….
1) The toilet needs to be disinfected regularly.
2) Countertops really only need disinfecting when you have left out meat or poultry for several hours and salmonella has begun to grow and then you smeared the meat all over the counter (okay, I know you wouldn’t do that!). Seriously now, I’ve been preparing and feeding my cats raw food for over 15 years. The only thing I use to clean the cutting board and counters afterwards are hot water and dish soap. No one has gotten salmonella poisoning (knock on wood).
3) People are walking all over your counters with their shoes on.
4) There’s a cockroach party on your counters.
Get my drift? Then we might use a disinfectant on the bare floors, but what about the carpeting or area rugs? Anyways, these products are leaving lots of residues and fumes that nobody needs to be ingesting or inhaling. A mild earth-, people-, and animal-friendly product will do the job just fine.
Buyer beware: there are a lot of products with natural looking labels that tout being “earth friendly,” “natural,” etc. In marketing, the use of the word “natural” means the product (including food) can contain some natural sources and be labeled “natural.” There is a popular line that is heavily marketed in grocery and health food stores. This line contains synthetic fragrance, and in my book, is way too strong of a scent to be using around our cats.
What You Can Use Instead of All Purpose Cleaners/Disinfectants:
1. White Vinegar has antibacterial properties, softens hard water, and cuts through grease—use diluted 50/50 with water in a spray bottle.
2. Seventh Generation is a line of earth friendly, non-toxic, no animal testing products. They make an unscented version. Their products are sold in Target, many grocery stores and health food stores
3. Eco-Friendly Dish Soap. Use this in a ratio of 10% dish soap to 90% water in a squirt bottle or spray bottle. I know an eco-friendly cleaning service that uses this formula with essential oils added (see next paragraph).
4. Bon Ami and Barkeepers Friend cleansers.
Any of the items #1-3 can be used along with these cleansers to clean your bathroom sink and tub of scum and to shine your stainless steel sinks, pots, and pans. You can add a couple drops of essential oils to items #1-3 to freshen and disinfect. Some essential oils that disinfect are lavender, tea tree, lemon and thyme.
“10 Ingredients to Avoid in Cat Food
That Make Your Cat Sick and Unhealthy”
#4 – Bleach
According to Collective-Evolution.com, “the most obvious danger of Chlorine Bleach is printed clearly on the label. It is a heavily corrosive material capable of irritating the eyes, skin and respiratory tract often by simply inhaling the gases its use emits. This inhalation has been noted to deteriorate the lungs and esophagus lining in addition to the scarring of the respiratory tract that I previously mentioned. These side effects may not occur to a visibly notable extent with each exposure to bleach, but the chemicals impact is never favorable, especially over a long period of time.”
When mixed with ammonia, which is found in other cleaning products, the fumes produced are even more lethal and potentially fatal. Some side effects of the fumes of bleach and ammonia mixed together are headaches, nose bleeds, neurological disorders, shortness of breath and chest pain.
Did you know that bleach actually breaks down the fibers in clothing, causing them to fall apart sooner?
What You Can Use Instead of Bleach:
1. White Vinegar
2. Baking Soda
3. Oxygen-based whiteners – unscented formulas
4. Hydrogen Peroxide
5. Some eco-friendly companies make safe whiteners for your laundry, and these are typically hydrogen peroxide based.
#5 – Fabric Softener and Fabric Softener Sheets
Did you know that fabric softener residue stays locked into your clothing? And that your skin absorbs the residue? Fabric softener/sheets leaves a thin oil layer on your clothes. The sheets leave wax on the insides of your dryer, plus the synthetic fragrances are chemically based. I know of someone who did a body detox, and the smell of fabric softener was emanating from his body during the detox.
Here’s a list of toxic chemicals used in fabric softeners that can be absorbed into your skin and pollute the waterways and ocean:
- Benzyl acetate: Linked to pancreatic cancer
- Benzyl Alcohol: Upper respiratory tract irritant
- Ethanol: On the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Hazardous Waste list and can cause central nervous system disorders
- A-Terpineol: Can cause respiratory problems, including fatal edema, and central nervous system damage
- Ethyl Acetate: A narcotic on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list
- Camphor: Causes central nervous system disorders
- Chloroform: Neurotoxic, anesthetic and carcinogenic
- Linalool: A narcotic that causes central nervous system disorders
- Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled
What You Can Use Instead of Fabric Softener:
1. White Vinegar OR Baking Soda. Adding ½ cup of baking soda or ½ cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to soften the water and your items. Do not add them together! They react together and fizz up.
2. Wool dryer balls. These are effective in drying your laundry faster, reducing static and wrinkles, and softening your fabrics.
3. Don’t dry synthetics in the dryer—they are the culprit in static electricity; instead hang-dry them.
4. Use nothing – this is my method.
Resources For You:
What surprised you the most in this article, if anything? Got any tips to share? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks!
Don’t miss any of the Healthier Cat Detox Series:
Part Three: No More Shots–The Cat Vaccine Hoax
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Healthy Life Cat Coach
Calico Cat Photo courtesy of: giesje/pixabay.com