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Before you bring your new kitten home it’s wise to check your house for potential hazards – in much the same way that parents take precautions around the home to protect a toddler learning to crawl.
The first step to kitten proofing your home is to look at things from your kitten’s point of view. Your kitten will be attracted to things that look like they are fun to play with, hide in, sleep in, or that smell or taste good. Here are a few ways to keep your kitten safe:
Preventing falls – Keep windows closed, or install mesh screens to prevent your cat from escaping outside or falling from a height. Cats will jump or climb onto railings so pay particular attention on balconies or high decks. In the bathroom, keep the toilet lid down – sadly, many kittens have drowned after falling into the toilet bowl. Toilet water, which is laden with cleaning chemicals, can also be poisonous if swallowed.
Toys – Inspect all toys before you give them to your kitten to make sure there aren’t any dangerous parts that could be bitten off or chewed and choked on. Whilst cats love to play with toys on the end of a string, adult supervision is recommended with fishing pole type toys as the strings can be potentially lethal if swallowed. It also pays to put these toys away in a cupboard when you’re not around.
Electrical cords – Kittens love to bite and chew electrical cords, which is a dangerous activity with the risk of electric shock. Most households have electrical cords and wires in every room– attached to the computer, television or stereo, and connecting household appliances from whitegoods to toasters and mobile phone chargers. For the safety of your kitten you need to hide these away as much as possible. Where possible, tape electrical cords to your floor or wall, buy a cable tidy unit from your local hardware store or use a piece of PVC piping to hide exposed electrical cords. If your kitten persists you can coat the cords with Vicks Vapour Rub, bitter apple or lemon juice which will smell and taste horrible to your kitten and act as a reliable deterrent.
Medicines and household chemicals – Anything that is labeled ‘keep out of reach of children’ applies to kittens too. Make sure that medicine bottles are locked in a secure cabinet. You also need to lock away any cleaning chemicals, laundry detergents, insect sprays, garden sprays or weed killers and other potentially dangerous substances around the home. Some kittens are clever enough to open cupboards, so you may need to invest in child-proof locks.
Kitchen dangers – Keep your kitten off the kitchen counter to avoid burns from hot elements or contact with sharp knives. Kitchen string, rubber bands and twist ties are also potential dangers, so keep these securely stored in drawers. Reconsider a tablecloth whilst your kitten is young and playful. Kittens have been known to pull the contents of an entire table on top of themselves by attempting to climb a low-hanging table cloth.
Grocery bags – Plastic grocery bags are a suffocation hazard; kittens are tempted to chew them and risk ingesting small pieces of plastic. The handles of plastic and paper bags are potentially dangerous too, your cat can get tangled in the handles of a bag and become agitated or hurt.
Hiding places – Kittens love to find dark, warm hidey-places to curl up and go to sleep. This includes kitchen cupboards and drawers but also household appliances which can become death-traps. Kittens are often attracted to dishwashers by the smell of food left on plates. As a precaution, never turn your dishwasher on without first checking to ensure that your kitten is not inside, this applies to ovens, fridges, washing machines and tumble driers as well.
Household plants – Many species of household plants are toxic and pose a serious safety threat. Kittens will try to climb, knock over or eat household plants, so they are best removed from the house or hung from ceiling hooks.
Blind cords – Dangling cords on venetian blinds are potentially dangerous as your cat could tangle and choke himself. To reduce the risk, make sure that you tie the cords securely and high so they are out of reach of little paws
Candles and oil burners – Candles and aromatherapy oil burners are easily knocked over by kittens, so use these with care to prevent a potential fire and burns to your cat.
Sewing and craft supplies – Balls of wool, ribbons, needles and pins etc. are hazardous if swallowed so keep these out of your kitten’s reach.
Kittens like to get into mischief; it’s all part of growing up. Kitten proofing your home will ensure that your kitten survives kittenhood and grows up to be a healthy and happy member of your family.
Images: Jon / Phil Hawksworth via Flickr