Cats, and especially kittens, are naturally inquisitive, and investigate objects by touching, sniffing and tasting them. When you bring a new cat into your home they’ll be curious about everything and unlike us, won’t be able tell the different between what is and isn’t dangerous. If you’re not sure how to cat proof your house and make a cat friendly home, follow our checklist to keep your pet out of trouble!
- When you first bring your new cat or kitten home, keep all windows and doors closed until they’re fully settled in, have had all their vaccinations and have been neutered.
- Check that all your bins in your kitchen and bathroom have closable lids that are fully paw-proof, and never leave bin bags where they can be raided!
- Put away any breakable ornaments, as they won’t last long with a curious kitten on the scene.
- Remember to always close doors to the oven, fridge, microwave, dishwasher, tumble-dryer and washing machine. Add notes to the doors of these appliances to remind people to check inside for exploring cats before using them. Small kittens can find a warm dryer or a shiny washing machine drum irresistible!
- Keep toilet lids down, so your kitten can't fall in or drink (or even try to use the toilet themselves!). You may need to leave a note to remind visitors or forgetful housemates.
- Hide all trailing electrical cables behind furniture. You can buy thick cable protectors from most hardware stores which are placed over cables to make them totally chew-proof.
- Store your plastic shopping bags somewhere safe, as they can be a real hazard if chewed and swallowed or hidden in.
- Lit candles, burning incense or oil burners are just asking for trouble – naked flames and fluffy cats do not mix. If you have an open fire, make sure that it has a guard in front of it.
- Shorten dangling blind and curtain cords and secure them safely out of paws reach.
- Keep your kitchen countertops clear and clean up food scraps promptly. Chicken bones might be tempting to cats but can be very dangerous, as they may splinter when chewed. The binding string used on joints of meat is also irresistible as a snack and toy, but can cause serious health problems if swallowed.
- Cats love to climb so, if you want to protect your furniture and make a cat friendly home, scratching posts can be very useful, ideally ones that include a high platform where they can hide or sleep without being disturbed.
- Check the dangerous substance list below whilst making a cat friendly home and make sure they’re stored safely out of harm’s reach. Fit child-locks on floor-level kitchen cupboards, as curious kittens have a knack of opening doors.
Unfortunately quite a lot of common household objects are highly toxic to cats even in low quantities. To keep your cat safe, avoid using the following or keep them in a secure cupboard away from prying claws:
- Cleaning and hygiene products, such as bleach, and products containing phenols (e.g. disinfectants that turn water cloudy).
- Human medicines (such as paracetamol and ibuprofen).
- Car-related products such as anti-freeze.
- Beauty or decorating products like hair dyes, white spirit and nail polish remover.
- Rat/mouse poisons – ideally these shouldn’t be used at all, as your cat could get seriously ill if they eat the poisoned prey. If you do have to use them, position them somewhere that your cat can’t get to.
- Slug pellets (pet-friendly versions are available).
- Mothballs (naphthalene or paradichlorobezine).
- Potpourri oils, fabric softener sheets, dishwasher detergents (all contain cationic detergents which cause corrosive lesions).
- Batteries (they contain acids or alkali which cause corrosive lesions).
- Homemade play dough (due to a high level of salt).
- Hand or foot warmers (they contain high levels of iron).
- Cigarettes, leftover coffee grounds, alcohol.
- Chocolate (this is more of an issue for dogs, but the theobromine in chocolate is also toxic to cats).
- All forms of lilies (the leaves, flowers etc.) found in bouquets or as houseplants (see below for other toxic plants).
- Some dog-flea products contain permethrin, which is highly toxic to cats, so make sure they’re kept out of reach and dogs are separated from cats when treated.
Although we think of cats as meat-eaters, don’t be surprised if you spot your cat chewing vegetables or other plants. Some cats like to munch on grass outdoors, or nibble at the leaves of potted houseplants indoors. Keep an eye on exactly what your cat is grazing on, as some plants have parts that are toxic to them. The most common plants to avoid are:
Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane), Lilies (all parts of the plant are highly toxic), Philodendron, Mistletoe, Poinsettia
Lilies, Azalea, Daffodil, Tomato, Foxglove, Yew, Hydrangea
Your cat or kitten has a natural instinct to play outdoors, establish territory, climb trees, and catnap in the sun. As fun as this sounds, there are some things that you’ll need to look out for in the great outdoors. When outside, cats are exposed to more diseases and parasites, risk getting lost or stolen, and could potentially get hurt by a car. To allow your cat outdoors and also keep them safe, you can create a cat proof garden.