Safety first! Before even your kitten arrives home, you should re-evaluate and kitten proof your home. We know, it’s a bit of a trap, because reality is different from expectations.
We ourselves previously have had overlooked several things for a simple reason than a kitten in our mind was larger than it actually was. That ting gap between wall and fridge had to be blocked, because, well, yeah, apparently it wasn’t tiny enough for our new kitten.
However, it’s good to be prepared as much as you can and kitten proof the most obvious loopholes, so, once the kitten arrives, already have a head start.
Here is a list of things to consider. Starting from things that you should safely tuck away and ending with changes in your habits so your kitten won’t get into trouble.
- Hide cords. Cords are dangerous to cats, especially kittens, for two reasons. Kitten are curious and chew things they find. No need to elaborate. Also, in most normal homes, cords behind the desk is a mess. Kittens are clumsy and can tangle in them. So there you have it, finally, a good reason to take care of it. Applying spray on them, in our opinion, is not a good idea. Not all sprays work on all cats, and they have to be reapplied. Better off, look for a cord concealer in a hardware store. It is a plastic channel that can be attached to a wall and surface and hides cords out of sight. Not only it kitten proofs your home but also reduces the clutter.
- Hide small objects. Cats are curious, and we know what happens next. Kittens especially like to investigate their world by tasting things. A major problem with cats is that their tongue has inwards facing barbs that make cats hard to spit out objects once they’re in their mouth. Make sure that objects small enough for your kitten to swallow do not lie around, for example, pieces of string, needles, paper clips, toy parts, jewelry, and others. A huge problem is that once a cat’s tract is blocked with an object, things can escalate rapidly.
- Hide string, tinsel, ribbons, and yarn balls. For a reason similar to small objects, strings are especially dangerous to cats. Make sure you discard ribbons properly when unwrapping presents and, if you decorate Christmas tree, avoid tinsel. Also, don’t let your kitten play with yarn balls. He can swallow parts of it or even get tangled in the thread. Get a set of cat toys, which is a much safer alternative.
- Put household chemicals in a safe location. Most household chemicals, like toilet cleaners, washing powders, air fresheners, and antifreeze, are toxic not only to us but to cats as well. Some chemicals might even be attractive to cats because of their smell or taste. For example, cats and dogs are fond of car antifreeze. Rooms that usually contain dangerous household items are laundry rooms, bathrooms, garages, and similar locations. The best way to keep your cat safe is to store household chemicals in closed cupboards. If that isn’t possible, keep the doors to these rooms locked.
- Secure household appliances. Cats are curious animals and can often climb inside washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers, and similar appliances. For example, one of our cats loves to nap in a laundry bag or inside a pile of clothes within a washing machine. Create a habit to either always close the appliances when you aren’t using them or check every time before you start them. This also applies to times when you fill the washing machine with clothes and then go back to the bedroom to see if any socks are lying on the floor. Double-checking doesn’t cost much time, and the reward for doing so may be invaluable.
- Keep heavy (and fragile) objects away. First, you don’t want your kitten to throw an iron on itself—no need to explain why. Second, you don’t want your Chinese vase to be thrown off the ledge.
- Don’t leave burning candles. It’s okay to enjoy a candle’s flame, but if you have a cat, you should never leave candles burning when you aren’t in the room. Cats, especially long-haired ones, can catch fire from just walking by them. Even worse, a cat may easily knock a burning candle over and set your house on fire.
- Keep windows secure. Keep windows shut at all times, or, if you need ventilation, either install a screen (a secure nylon or metal pet screen, not a mosquito screen, which cannot hold a cat) or ventilate rooms one by one, always checking that the cat is behind a closed door in a different room. Even though cats can balance well, they can easily slip and fall of a window ledge, which is dangerous if you live above the ground floor. Also, cats don’t always land on their feet, and even if they would, falling from heights can still cause fractures, major internal organ injuries, and/or death. If you have an indoor cat, leaving a window open will allow it to escape.
- Lock cat food away. Store cat food in the fridge (unless your cat knows how to open it), closed cupboards, or pet-secured containers. Overeating by itself may pose a risk to your cat’s life, especially if your cat is still young. Extreme overeating can easily happen with dry food. It expands greatly in the stomach, but not before the cat has eaten way more than he can hold.
- Revise plants in your household. Indoor plants are cool and beautiful; unfortunately, many of them are toxic to cats, who love nibbling on them. You can see a list of plants that are toxic to cats here on the ASPCA website. Currently, more than 400 items are listed. If you have any of those in your home, replace them with cat-friendly plants or place them entirely out of your cat’s reach. You can also find an article about preventing a cat from nibbling plants here.
- Disable any escape path. If you’re planning to keep your cat indoors, always make sure to prevent your cat from escaping. If not provided with adequate stimulation, cats commonly “guard” the front door and scoot through when the slightest opportunity comes, sometimes without the owner even noticing it. You may find tips to prevent a cat from escaping here. Keep doors and windows closed, check where your cat is before you enter or go out, and equip your cat with an ID tag and microchip. If your cat shows interest in the outdoor world, check how you can enrich its indoor environment and increase its activity and the time spent bonding with you.
If we talk about buying different accessories for cats, like cat trees, scratching posts, water fountains, and other items to improve your cat’s life, it’s always possible to start small and then build up according to your cat’s personality and preferences.
Cat proofing, however, does not leave interpretations for “good,” “better,” or “good enough.” It always must be excellent, and it has to be so on the first try. Your house better is completely cat proof before your new kitten arrives.