Kittens are curious little tykes and love to explore nooks and crannies. If you're a new kitten owner (or are about to become one), you'll need to kitten-proof your home and keep a close eye on your new pet as it learns how to navigate safely. It's also important to keep your favorite things safe from your kitten!
Kittens are tiny animals with a terrific curiosity, a great sense of smell, and a surprising ability to leap, crawl, and use their claws. As a result, it's easy for kittens to get themselves into risky situations—or to cause harm to your fragile decorations or dinner. For example:
- Kittens are fascinated by anything that moves and by most things that they can move around with their paws. That includes wires, knick-knacks, bathroom items, and tablecloths. Some such items can be dangerous for kittens; others are easily broken.
- Kittens love to climb and will climb almost anything they can. They'll also slip through open doors and windows if they can!
- Kittens need to sharpen their claws and also enjoy stretching their claws. This is fine, so long as they're not ripping your favorite clothes or good carpet.
- Kittens have their noses close to the floor, and, like human babies, love to put things in their mouths. Bits of trash are no exception.
- Kittens don't have the ability to tell human food from cat food, or safe treats from potentially harmful foods.
How to Kitten-Proof
In many ways, kitten-proofing is similar to baby-proofing. Imagine a toddler wandering around your home, grabbing anything that interests them and putting it into their mouth. Next, imagine that the toddler can leap, climb, and zip past you without making a sound—and you've got a good picture of the task ahead.
- Look around your house first, at high shelves and low cupboards and hidden nooks. Could the kitten get onto a shelf holding valuable or fragile items? Could it become trapped inside a cupboard?
- If you're into needlework, keep your supplies in a closed container. Needles and thread might appear to be fine playthings, but can be fatal if your kitten swallows them. Yarn can be a dangerous foreign body if your kitten eats it, so be sure to put it away carefully after you use it.
- Fold and secure your window blinds' cord with a rubber band, out of kitty's reach. If she gets tangled up in it, she could strangle.
- Kittens will pick up almost anything they can, and love knocking over trashcans. If you don't want to find your floors littered with garbage, invest in covered wastebaskets and kitchen garbage containers.
- Always keep the door to your clothes dryer closed, and double-check inside before using it. Cats like to find dark, warm places to sleep, and the results could be tragic.
- Keep the floor clean of stray rubber bands, ribbon, and twine. All are hazardous when ingested by a kitten.
- Cover any food you leave out, as kittens have terrific noses and will be attracted to all kinds of treats. Be especially careful with foods that can be harmful to kittens; chocolate, for example, is toxic to cats.
- Cloth drapes are better left out of reach of your furry 'curtain-climber'. Tie them up securely until your kitten is trained to a scratching post.
- Keep your toilet lid down at all times, lest kitty fall in or drink from it. Better yet, keep your bathroom off-limits to your kitten unless you absolutely have to keep its litterbox there.
- Do not keep your kitten in the garage, and always keep the doors closed. Antifreeze is very tasty to animals and is just one of the many common poisonous substances found in garages.
- Cover electric cords, such as the tangle from your computer, with covers sold for that purpose. Caution: wrapping electric cords could be a fire hazard.
- There are a number of household plants poisonous to cats. Floral arrangements can also be dangerous, so check before putting flowers in locations where cats can reach them. Lilies are very common and especially dangerous to cats, causing acute kidney failure.
- Use animal-safe pest control. Many commercial roach, rodent, and ant poisons can kill cats if ingested.
- If your kitten will be indoors-outdoors, make sure your yard is clear of snail poison, rodent traps, and other hazardous material. Better yet: fill your house with attractive toys and make it an inside-only cat.