Kittens are undeniably adorable, even when they are driving us nuts and getting into things that were never intended for these little ramblers to get into. Like, say, the cabinet where you store your dog’s bagged dry food, which winds up festooned with small holes chewed into it. Or your refrigerator, where all that yummy canned food is stored.
I currently own 14 cats. Yes, I’m crazy. I have owned cats for the better part of half a century, and let me tell you, no cat has died in the writing of this article. Yes, there’s been close calls, but it’s not because any of my cats was in harm’s way. I’m an obsessive-compulsive cat owner and my houses have always been kitten-proofed.
In our house, cords are always unplugged when not in use. WebMD recommends that you tuck cords under furniture or place them in plastic cord protectors. However, kittens can climb under furniture if there’s sufficient room, so keep this in mind. If your little one tries to bite a cord, clap your hands loudly and shout no! This usually discourages little nibblers.
What else do I do?
Any possible item that can be chewed on, will be. I guarantee it. Kittens are even more inventive than human babies at finding things to put in their little mouths. Trust me on this, I know. Rubber bands, bits of string, even the twist-ties on a package of bread are all potential targets of curious little critters. How do I know this? Years ago, my kitten Jack ate the twist tie from a loaf of bread. I found it in the litterbox the next day. Since then, I’ve been considerably more careful. To really do a thorough check, WebMD recommends that you drop down to your kitten’s eye level and check for items that a kitten might find intriguing–hair bands, earrings, or a child’s small tie.
What else should you do to kitten-proof your home?
Make sure window screens are secured properly, to prevent falls and don’t allow your kitten on high ledges where it can tumble off of. This includes balconies, upper porches and high decks, Meow Cat Rescue reports. The rescue also has other suggestions, including:
- Keep antifreeze, household cleaners, laundry detergent, bleach, paint, paint thinner, rat, roach, and ant poison, mothballs, disinfectants, medications and all other toxic items secured and out of your kitten’s reach, the rescue reports. Cats are pretty clever, so keep in mind that your kitten may figure out how to open a cabinet door. As for antifreeze, cats and dogs are often attracted to this deadly substance because of its sweet taste.
- Many houseplants are poisonous, so it’s best to put them outside and out of your cat’s reach. Not all cats tend to chew on leaves, but some do. Why take a risk with this? Be sure to get a list of toxic houseplants from your veterinarian. Meow Cat Rescue reports that you can hang houseplants, but I don’t recommend this–leaves can fall off of the plant and they are just as toxic on the floor as they are on the plant. Here’s a brief list of toxic plants: Amaryllis, English ivy, narcissus, dieffenbachia (dumb cane), mistletoe, holly, philodendron, rubber plant, tulip, clematis and morning glory. This is only a partial list. Even plants that aren’t toxic can still be problematic. I used to clip rose blossoms and keep them in vases until Jack ate an entire blossom and stem–thorns and all. He vomited it back up (ewww) and was okay after that.
- Other items to keep out of your kitty’s reach: Plastic bags, and plastic six-pack holders. Cats sometimes chew on plastic bags and may swallow bits of them, or accidentally suffocate if they are trapped inside the bag. If you let your cat play with paper grocery bags, or any other types of grocery bags, clip the handles off. My kitty Rose accidentally got tangled in the twine handles of one of these bags and would have strangled if I hadn’t been there when she did it. The rings of plastic six-pack holders should be cut for the same reason. Wildlife can get tangled in these as well.
- If you decide to put a collar on your pet, use safety collars only. These collars are designed to break should your cat get caught on something. Collars that aren’t designed to do this can strangle your cat. You may want to talk to your vet to have your cat micro-chipped–even if you keep your cat might escape. Doing this means that your cat can be easily identified, and the chances are better that she’ll be returned to you.
- Then there’s the age-old argument between men and women about whether or not the toilet seat should be kept up or down. I’m about to settle that for you: Keep it down. A kitten can actually drown if it falls into the toilet, Meow Cat Rescue reports. So now your argument has been solved.
In all the years of cat ownership, I’ve managed to keep my cats safe, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a challenge. It is. However, it’s well worth it and my cats have been healthy and happy. They are a joy to have, and it’s lovely to go to sleep at night with a purring cat or two keeping me company. Even if they do bite my toes.