Do you remove your shoes when you enter your home? If you don’t, you may want to rethink that. I don’t have a lot of rules in my house, but if you’re coming to visit me, I’m going to ask you to take off your shoes. I don’t want to expose Allegra or myself to all the bacteria and toxins that live on the bottom of the average shoe, because quite frankly, the stuff you’ll find there is the stuff of nightmares.

What you bring into your home on the bottom of your shoes

The dirt that builds up inside even the best kept homes is not just dust, or dirt from people and pets shedding hair and skin. About a third of that dirt comes in through your windows, or on your shoes.

Think about what you step in when you walk outside. Regardless of whether you live in a city, the suburbs, or a rural area, you’re going to step into at least some residue of one or more of the following (and please, if you’re eating something while you’re reading this, put it down, because trust me, you’re going to be a little grossed out:) animal feces, peoples’ spit, gasoline, oil, pesticides, fertilizer, and countless other biological and chemical substances that you wouldn’t want anywhere near your cats, or yourself. Add in cancer-causing toxins from road asphalt and lawn chemicals, and you’ve got a toxic soup that you’re really not going to want inside your home.


Studies reveal high bacteria levels on footwear

Study after study has shown that the stuff you drag into your home on your shoes contains bacteria, including drug-resistant pathogens. A 2008 study at the University of Arizona researchers found that 96% of shoe soles also contain fecal bacteria, including E-coli.

Lawn chemicals are highly toxic to cats, even indoor cats

An even bigger concern for me are lawn chemicals. When I go for my daily walks in my suburban neighborhood, especially in the spring and fall, not a day goes by that someone hasn’t just fertilized their lawn. I can see the granules on the sidewalk, and sometimes, I can even smell the chemicals. These chemicals are highly toxic to humans and animals, and when you bring that toxic residue inside on your shoes, it can affect your cats even if they never set foot outside.

How does the stuff on your shoes affect your cats?

While cats may not lick your floors, their paws will come in contact with anything you drag in on your shoes. When they lick their paws as part of their regular grooming routine, they’ll end up ingesting whatever wound up on their paws.

Exposure to bacteria can cause diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Exposure to toxins can cause any or all of the following:

• Excessive salivation
• Excessive urination
• Muscle twitching
• Weakness
• Difficulty breathing
• Collapse
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Abdominal pain
• Weakness
• Dizziness
• Unsteady gait

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Take off your shoes when you get home

Knowing all of this, why would you not want to leave your shoes at the door? And if you’re worried about offending visitors when you ask them to take off their shoes, purchase some inexpensive slippers or disposable shoe covers to have on hand.

Do you wear outside shoes inside the house or do you take them off?

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7 Comments on Why You Should Leave Your Shoes at the Door to Protect Your Cat’s (and Your) Health

  1. I never take off my shoes. I now live in the country. I usually where rubber boots if I walk around the property for 2 reasons. One if it is muddy and secondly in case of rattlesnakes. I have never ever asked anyone to take off their shoes. My boots I take off and put on a shelf. But if I go to the store or just in the driveway I will not take off my shoes. I get what you say of the dangers and I think it is pretty much like when kids are raised in a sterile environment and they never get to play in the dirt, they are more prone to allergies. I have family that all seem to take off their shoes and if I lived around them all the time I would respect that and bring slippers. They live in a wetter climate and I’m sure they want to keep their floors cleaner. They have never asked me to take off my shoes. If I was inclined to make that a request for anyone coming into my house, I would provide them with slippers or some kind of alternative footwear. If someone insisted to enter their house I would need to remove my shoes, I would be upset if they didn’t provide me with something to put on my feet. Your house, your rights, but I do believe there needs to be a healthy respect for the inconvenience of guests. Walking around on a cold floor with your socks or stockings on is not treating guests with respect.

  2. After having a baby 40 years ago, my friends and I came to this very conclusion . Rarely do we leave shoes on!!

    • I always take my shoes off. I usually request most people to take theirs off as well. I keep slippers on at the door.

  3. I have been doing this for a long time. But it didn’t start to protect my cats or my own health. It started because I don’t like dirty floors. When I learned of the dangers of the outside world on shoes, I was glad I started doing it. I don’t want to be the reason my cats get sick.

  4. I try too remember too take off my shoes at the door. How do you know how too tell your visitors too take off their shoes at the door.

    • I ask everyone who comes to my home to take off their shoes. My friends already know. For service people, I provide shoe covers, but a lot of companies already have them for their service personnel.

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