Cat-Proofing Your Home
Cat proofing your home has two goals: protecting your cat, and protecting your home. The best time to get started is before your new cat arrives to distract you. Your cat can squirm under furniture and discover stuff you never knew was in your house. And he can climb things and topple items you never thought he could reach. Curiosity can kill---or at least injure---your cat. And it can destroy your prized possessions. So think like a cat, and start prowling the house for danger. Look for:
- uncovered electrical outlets, which can cause shocks when licked
- electrical wires, which can cause shocks when chewed. They can also topple lamps and appliances when pulled. Tape them together and out of reach. Do the same with long phone cords. Better, buy plastic conduit or flat strips of vinyl to cover them and hold them flat to the floor.
- little things: rubber bands, thumb tacks, paper clips, deflated balloons, all of which can be enticing playthings but pose a choking hazard
- big things, such as unsecured bookcases, that can topple over on a cat should it hang from them.
- hanging cords for blinds, which are fun to play with, but can also become wrapped around a kitten's neck. Tie the cords out of reach, or cut them so they don't form a loop.
- open windows (or ones with loose screens) as well as decks and balconies, which can result in falls
- unsecured doors, which can let your cat wander outside, or can slam shut on him in a breeze
- swinging doors, which can trap a kitten’s head and neck
- fireplace without a secure fire screen, which can invite a cat to be burned
- precariously placed statues or vases, which can fall on a curious kitten
- hanging table cloths that if pulled, can bring dishes crashing down, possibly injuring the kitten
- long strings, which if swallowed, can cause the intestines to accordion in on themselves, requiring surgery.
- craft or sewing kits. These may hold needles and threads that can be swallowed, causing severe injury and illness
- poisonous plants, which can be fun to play with and enticing to munch on, but some can be toxic. Know your plants, or better, put them all out of reach.
- household cleaners containing pine or phenol, which are particularly toxic to cats. Never use these to clean the cat's bowls or sleeping quarters.
- laundry room dangers, such as fabric softener sheets, which can be toxic, and open dryer doors that can be inviting for a cat to nap inside on the clothes---before the door is shut and the dryer turned on.
Some rooms have special dangers. Check the kitchen for:
- open cabinets holding cleaners and degreasers, which can invite poisoning
- accessible garbage pails holding enticing rancid food and splintering bones, which can invite poisoning, sickness or gut injury
- plastic wraps that can be swallowed, which can lodge in the intestines
- foods and beverages such as chocolate, sugarless candy and gum containing xylitol, and alcohol that have been known to cause sometimes fatal toxicity in cats.
Check the bathrooms for:
- pills and medicines; it only takes one ibuprofen or acetaminophen to kill a kitten.
- drain cleaners, which can poison a cat or cause eye injuries
- razors, which can cut the mouth, throat and gut
Check the garage for:
- antifreeze, which is attractive, but very deadly, to cats. Even walking through a puddle and licking it off the paws can cause fatal kidney failure.
- fuels, cleaners, paints, herbicides, insecticides, and fertilizers, all of which can be toxic
- rodent bait, which is enticing to eat, but fatal to cats as well as rodents
Check the yard for:
- puddles of antifreeze in the driveway
- rotted limbs that can fall on your cat
- unfenced pool, which can drown a kitten
- treated lawns and decks, which may have toxic chemicals that the cat may lick off his paws
- poisonous plants
- insect hives that a digging or playing cat could cause to attack
- a non-cat proof fence. Don't let your cat roam!
Look on the bright side: your house has probably never looked so orderly. Except maybe for the kitten hanging from the drapes. Maybe now's the time to cover the furniture or put the cat in the special safe room you should have. And break out the cat toys.