This is a subject that concerns me personally and it should concern all people who care for a cat and who live in an apartment with common grounds that includes a lawn and where the cat goes onto the lawn. This will normally happen to people who occupy ground floor apartments and who have rights to use the communal garden with direct access to it.
Lawn treatments are designed to improve the appearance of the lawn. That means less weeds, moss etc. and lush grass. There appears to be two broad categories of lawn treatments: synthetic chemicals and organic lawn care products.
If you are living in a flat or apartment you will usually have no control over when, if and how the lawn of a communal garden is treated. However, we should know this information if we have a cat or a dog. At lot of the chemical treatments are highly toxic to both us and our cat. It goes without saying that a cat or dog is much more likely to ingest these nasty chemicals through their skin or mouth.
Cats eat grass. They lie in grass and walk on it with bare feet. Cats are fastidious self-groomers. They will lick their feet and undersides of their body etc. Their direct exposure to poisonous chemicals is substantially increased.
We don’t know if or how our cat has been affected by lawn treatment chemicals. The health impact can be subtle and the underlying cause of an illness can often go undiagnosed.
The management of apartment buildings routinely ignore this important aspect of their work. Cats are common companions of flat-dwelling people. Managers of blocks of flats should:
- wherever possible use organic non-toxic lawn treatments and;
- provide notice of when lawn treatment will take place to allow a person to keep their cat in and;
- provide details of the time scale during which the chemicals will disperse and the lawn become safe for ‘pets’ again.
I would be surprised if any management company did this. I know for a fact that the management of the block of flats where I live completely ignore the toxic effects of lawn treatment on local cats and other animals including wildlife. I live in a self-managed block of flats with a nice garden (a condominium in American English). By self-managed I mean a group of leaseholders manage the block rather than a remote landlord. This is because the leaseholds communally are the landlord as well.
There is, therefore, a communal element to this. They know there are cats around, some strays and at least three cats belonging to leaseholders and occupiers of these flats one of which is a fancy f3 bengal whose name is Daniel (see him in the picture above).
At least twice a year a contractor comes around with a back pack and a hand pump and dispenses some sort of chemical pellet onto the lawn. I have no idea if it is safe or a nasty synthetic chemical. I should have been notified because my cat has free access to the garden through a cat flap (cat door). They know that.
The directors of management company or the agents of that company could be liable in contract, tort (negligence) or breach of their fiduciary duty as directors if they do not take proper steps to prevent injury to residents of apartments and/or their pets.
My general impression is that managers of apartments usually have scant regard for the health of cats and dogs living with residents. Their objective is to make the place as simple to manage as possible.
A classic and distressing case of cat poisoning and injury from a garden or lawn treatment is in the news. A women’s cat was seriously injured by a chemical spray put on a garden. It appears to have been weed killer because at the same time the contractors put down bark mulch which is used to control weed growth. As expected the contractors and management company denied liability. Don’t they always?
If you are living in an apartment and have a cat that goes out, I would ask questions about lawn treatments and take proactive measures to protect the health of your cat.
Associated article: Toxic to Cats.