Kitten Proofing Your Home with 10 Easy-to-Follow Tips
Bringing a young cat into your family? Kitten proofing your home is important so your new furry friend doesn't chew, eat or scratch anything they’re not supposed to. If welcoming an older cat, they may be less mischievous, but you should still consider a few ways to cat proof furniture. Here are some tips.
1. They Like to Paw and Chew
Kittens are a lot like human babies; they learn about the world with their eyes, hands (well, paws), and mouth. Cats are playful animals, regardless of their age, with an innate love to paw around and play with anything they can find on the ground. That last part is important; you may think your floors are clean, but if you get down on your hands and knees, you'll probably find items that can cause problems for your kitten.
Here's what you should look out for and remove from behind couches and shelves before bringing your kitten home:
- twist ties
- hair ties
- rubber bands
- plastic bags
- sewing supplies
- doll/toy accessories
- small board game pieces
Loose items are easy for your kitten to paw and swallow, but there are many other things in your home, they'll try to chew, including electrical cords. Tape down any wires that can't be removed from reach, even if they're in permanent use. When using temporary items like an iron, the dangling cord can be just as tempting to a young kitty. They may think it's something to play with, but could get seriously hurt if the iron is pulled off of the ironing board.
Aside from electrical cords and cables, you should also secure telephone wires, curtain tie-backs, and the cords on blinds. Don't forget these items during your kitten proofing process!
2. Not All Plants Are Healthy
Houseplants add some greenery to your home, but be careful what your new kitten has access to. Philodendron, lilies, mistletoe, and poinsettia are a few of the more toxic houseplants that could make your kitten very ill with constant exposure. Lilies, azaleas, and daffodils are common garden plants that are toxic for kittens as well. Similarly, it's important to check and be sure any cut flowers in your home are safe for kittens too.
3. Keep the Lid Closed
Cats and kittens are always on the lookout for water so they can take sips throughout the day. One easy spot to drink from is the toilet. Be sure to keep the toilet lid closed at all times, with the lid up, your kitten could also fall in and potentially drown. Other containers in your home you should keep closed? Rubbish bins, laundry baskets, the washing machine & tumble dryer. You wouldn't want your kitten to get trapped inside and be unable to escape.
4. Hot Spots Are Unsafe
Although your kitten enjoys warmth, it's up to you to make sure they’re safe in these areas. Whether the warmth comes from a fireplace or wood stove, reinforce that these hot spots are not a place for napping. If necessary, regulate your cat's access by moving climbing surfaces or waking them up after a certain amount of time. Make sure all electric heaters stay unplugged and stored properly when not in use. When in use, supervise at all times to keep your entire family safe.
5. Cat Proof Furniture
Cats and kittens love to scratch, but they won't know what's not worthy of their claws until you teach them. An easy target is heavy furniture such as couches or tables. Rugs and carpeted stairs are also a favourite.
When you're trying to cat proof furniture, don't just think about what your kitten might scratch; think about items they can climb on: curtains, tablecloths, bookshelves etc. Offset these tendencies with a scratching post or cat tree.
6. Secure What They Can't Have
Cats are inherently curious, so closing a cabinet doesn't mean your feline friend will stay out. Consider purchasing childproof locks for any cabinets that hold cleaning supplies or medicine. You might keep these items on the top shelf of a cupboard to be sure they're inaccessible. Just remember that your cat can climb, so the closet door should also be closed.
If there is a special room your kitten should stay out of, keep this door closed at all times. Child or dog gates won't keep out a cat who can jump five times their own height, according to Mother Nature Network, the same way. Any mementos that are especially important to you and your family should be locked or secured away.
7. Check Small Spaces
Cats love to snuggle away in warm, small places. Before closing the dryer door be sure your kitten didn't sneak in for an afternoon snooze. The same goes for other quiet places such as dresser drawers, baskets in closets, refrigerators, and freezers.
8. Lock All Window Screens
Every patch of sunshine has your kitten's name on it, and they’ll snuggle on your window sills to get the most of this natural warmth. When kitten proofing your home, check all the screens on your windows and doors. If a screen isn't properly locked, your cat can end up in a dangerous situation. To be even safer, purchase cat-proof window screens as well as cat proof blinds. Not only are they safer, but they also last longer than regular window screens, as they don't get torn as easily.
9. Stock Up on Favourite Toys
The busier your pet is, the less likely they'll get into trouble. Kittens love to play, so invest in some toys, they love fake mice and jingly balls, which makes just enough noise for you to know where your kitten is. Expect your kitten to alternate between playing with you and napping.
10. Be Patient When Kitten Proofing Your Home
Whether your new cat is young or old and wise, it's tough to learn all the house rules at once. A kitten might avoid all the wires or loose objects on your floor, but be highly interested in climbing curtains or jumping up shelves. Make the transition to a new home easier by keeping them contained in a small cat-friendly room, temporarily while learning, then slowly allow access to more and more of the house as they become accustomed to the rules. When letting your kitten roam around make sure to keep a watchful eye at all times.
If gravitating to an area that might be unfit or dangerous take the necessary precautions to keep your kitten safe. It's important to redirect your kitten while addressing any safety issues in a calm, loving manner.
Finally, it is never a good idea to punish a kitten or cat for misbehaving. They are still learning the rules of your house and might not know better. Punishing a cat can actually make the situation worse causing stress and making them reclusive. Proper training and rewards for good behaviour will help teach what is acceptable. Your pet is learning and is looking to you for direction, have the same patience you would with a young child and your bond will go stronger and stronger.
Erin Ollila is an animal enthusiast who graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or http://erinollila.com.