Wednesday, August 12, 2015

12 Tips for Kitten-Proofing Your Home

A brown tabby kitten sits by a scratching post.
You've decided to get a kitten.  Congratulations!  You'll create so many wonderful memories with your new kitten as she grows up, and she will, no doubt, provide you with endless entertainment with her adorable cat antics.  But before you bring your little fur friend home, it's important to make sure your house is a safe place for her.  A few preparations is all it takes to ensure your kitten's safety.

Store All Chemicals: Many household cleaners are toxic to cats.  Store all household cleaners, laundry detergents, dryer sheets, pesticides, fertilizers, roach and rat poisons, bleach, paint, paint thinner, mothballs, disinfectants, and antifreeze in places inaccessible to your kitten.  A closet or high cabinet works well for storing such items.  If you must store these chemicals in a cabinet on the ground, lock it up so that your kitten cannot get it open.  Please be particularly careful with antifreeze as cats are attracted to its sweet taste.  It is extremely toxic and can lead to death when ingested.

Store Medications: It is equally important to store all medications somewhere your kitten cannot access.  Many human medications are toxic to cats.  Before you give your cat any medication, please consult with your veterinarian.

A white cat snuggled in a pink blanket.
Block Off Small Spaces: Cats like to sleep in warm, dark, small spaces, so it's best to block off your kitten's access to any small spaces he could potentially get stuck in.  Always check for your kitten before you close your refrigerator, oven, washer, dryer, trash compactor, dishwasher, and closets.

Carmine loved sneaking into closets without me knowing it when he was a kitten and got stuck in one more than once.  Thankfully I was always home to let him out, but I quickly got in the habit of checking the closet thoroughly before closing it.

The Meow Cat Rescue (AKA Mercer Island Eastside Orphans and Waifs) also suggests doing a "kitten check" before you leave home to ensure your companion doesn't get stuck in a closet all day.  Carmine and Milita are senior cats now, but I still do a "cat check" every single time before I leave to make sure they aren't stuck somewhere.

Protect Electrical Cords: Kittens are curious and may try chewing on electrical cords, which can lead to burns and electric shock.  Please use cord protectors or spray your cords with a deterrent like Bitter Apple to discourage your kitten from chewing them.  Remember to reward your cat when she chooses not to chew on electrical cords.

An orange and white kitten and an orange kitten play in the grass together.

Provide Safe Toys: Unfortunately not all cat toys on the market are safe.  Avoid toys with small parts that can be chewed off and swallowed.  Small balls pose a choking hazard, so ensure any balls you purchase for your kitten are too big to swallow.

I highly recommend not allowing your cat to play with ribbon, yarn, string, and spools of thread.  All of these can cause intestinal blockages if they are ingested.  If you see that your kitten has string, ribbon, or thread coming out of his mouth or behind, do not pull on it.  Pulling on the string, ribbon, or thread can cause serious intestinal damage.  Instead, take your cat to your veterinarian or animal emergency room right away.  It's also important to note that plastic bags pose a suffocation hazard, so it's best not to allow your kitten to play with them.  If you want to provide a paper bag for your kitty to play in, be sure to cut off the handles as they pose a serious strangulation hazard.

Two kittens lay together contently on a blanket.
There are plenty of safe toys on the market for kitties.  Many cats enjoy playing with catnip mice (just make sure the eyes cannot be chewed off), crinkle balls, balls with or without bells (purchase balls that are too big to swallow), other types of catnip toys, puzzle feeders, and tunnels.  Laser pointers and fishing pole toys are great for interactive play sessions.  Between interactive play sessions, store fishing pole toys out of your cat's reach so he can't chew on or swallow the string.

Secure All Window Screens: Make sure all of your window screens are intact and secure.  Supervise your kitten any time you have the windows open to ensure she doesn't scratch at the screens.  The Meow Cat Rescue also advises to keep your kitten off high decks, upper porches, and balconies.

Additionally, blind and drape cords pose a danger to cats.  Tie the cords up out of your cat's reach.

Store Small Objects: Small objects pose hazards to kittens.  If swallowed, they can lead to an intestinal blockage, which must be treated surgically.  Keep all staples, rubber bands, paper clips, thumb tacks, needles, beads, spools of thread, etc. in drawers or in closed containers your cat can't open.  Get down on the floor to look around for small objects your kitten might find.  Getting down at his level ensures you can find and remove more potentially dangerous items.

A gray kitten looks up at the camera.
Keep Trash Cans Covered: A kitten's curiosity may lead her to digging through the trash to find leftover food or things to play with.  Use trash cans with lids on them or store your trash cans in cabinets your cat can't open.

Use Breakaway Collars: It's important to use breakaway collars on cats.  If your companion gets stuck on something, her breakaway collar will release so that she can get free.  Collars without this feature pose a serious strangling hazard if your furry friend gets hung up on something.

Toxic Plants Should be Avoided: There are many plants toxic to cats.  A few common toxic plants include Easter Lilies, Amaryllis, Tulips, Rhododendron, Chrysanthemums, Philodendrons, Daisies, Dafodils, and Peonies.  You can view full lists of toxic and non-toxic plants to cats at the ASPCA Poison Control Center.

Keep the Toilet Lid Shut: Keep your toilet lid shut at all times.  Young cats can fall in and drown.  The chemicals used to clean the toilet bowl are also toxic and will harm your furry friend if she drinks water from the toilet bowl.

Two orange and white kittens standing outside by a tree.

Store Breakables: Kittens enjoy exploring; they will jump up onto tables, bookshelves, sideboards, and counters.  If you have breakable items on these surfaces, your cat may accidentally knock them down while exploring.  Some cats even enjoy knocking things down.  Therefore, it's best to store your breakable things in a safe place that's not accessible to your cat or put them away until your kitten grows up.

Getting a kitten is such an exciting experience.  By kitten-proofing your home, you'll ensure that your new furry friend will be safe and healthy in his new home.



  1. Those are great tips...even for some of us big kitties too!

  2. My human STILL does most of these, even though my "new kitten" stage was nearly a year ago! BTW, it's healthier for humans to keep the toilet seat down too - those things spray water when they flush and you don't want that getting on other things in the bathroom.

  3. I am sat here nodding! Yes, you NEED to do ALL of this. To this day our toilet seat stays down ALWAYS.

    Sharing this heaps!!!

  4. Great tips. Those are one of the reasons TW likes adopting older kitties. I was supposed to be a year old but I still fit under the dish washer. I’m good about everything else but did get my head caught once in the handle of a shopping bag.

  5. Oh, yes, we remember things like that, well, meowmy does, MOL!
    And we sill know she has to keep on her toes about things...esp Minko who chews cords!

  6. Great tips - and they really apply to cats of all ages.

  7. Wow! There's sure a lot to think about when you're adopting a baby!

  8. Wow! There's sure a lot to think about when you're adopting a baby!

  9. Excellent tips! I couldn't agree with you more on these. Thank you for including the tip about closing the toilet lid, as I had to learn this the hard way with Manna. She was not happy about her swim in the toilet at all! These are all so important to be reminded of when you get a kitten -even for those of us with experience. It can be so easy to forget how curious and energetic kittens really are.

  10. Excellent advice. I remember when Truffle and Brulee were coming to live with me and I'd forgotten all the things I needed to do to kitten-proof my house since Sweet Praline had been with me for 16 years.

  11. Fabulous tips, so helpful. I had a kitten that hid underneath the stove! It took s whole panicked day to find her- I thought she got out of the house!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them