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Cat-Proofing Your Home
Part of "Getting a New Cat" Tutorial
An Article by Franny Syufy

More of this Series
Part 1: Are You Ready for a Cat?
Part 2: Where to Get Your New Cat
Part 3: Shopping List for Your New Cat

You've decided where you're going to go to adopt your new kitty; possibly you've already narrowed your selection down to one cat you simply must bring home. You've stocked up on essentials from our shopping list. There's only one step left before Kitty Day: Cat-proofing your home to save wear and tear on the household as well as the new arrival.

The first thing you need to do is to place yourself way down on the floor, so you can see tempting hazards from your cat's viewpoint. Look around and make a list, using this article as a guideline, then you're ready for the next steps in cat-proofing.

Protect Valuables
Cats are inquisitive and curious (some might say "snoopy"), so you won't want to leave Great-Aunt Martha's hand-painted china vase sitting on the coffee table. It will otherwise undoubtedly be the first sacrifice to your new kitty's exploration.

  • Breakables Put away any breakable treasures that are remotely accessible to your cat. Remember that adult cats can, and will, jump onto shelves and counters, so put yourself into the mind of the cat, and look around, and remove anything you value.
  • Other Destroyables Kittens will climb your furniture and drapes. Consider covering cloth furniture with a purchased cover, or even with a blanket or bedspread. Drapes should be confined to off-limit rooms.

Poisonous Plants
Kittens and adult cats love to play with plants--the motion of leaves moving in a draft is irresistable. Unfortunately, part of their play involves biting and tasting--eating some plants can be fatal, so get rid of those, or hang them safely out of reach. Here is a comprehensive list of plants poisonous to pets. You might even want to consider artificial plants and flowers as a substitute--just make sure they don't have easily detachable (and ingestible) berries, small twigs and such.

Other Hazards
  • Hanging blinds cords-
    Kittens will love to bat around cords from hanging blinds, but can also get tangled up in them with disastrous consequences. Either anchor the cords firmly or, better yet, tie them up out of reach.
  • Electrical and phone cords
    Kittens' insatiable curiosity often leads them to one of the most dangerously temptable objects in the house: electric cords. Computers are a particular hazard with their numerous cords dangling temptingly. Invest in a cord management system or tape the cords together and fasten them out of reach. Do the same with long phone cords. You can also try Bitter Apple Spray, readily available at most pet stores. Sprayed on cords, it can be a memorable deterrant to biting.
  • Pest Poisons
    Remove any ant or roach traps from accessible areas. If your cat will be an indoor-outdoor pet, also scour your yard and remove any left-over ant stakes or snail bait. If you have a pesticide service, make sure they use only animal-safe products, and keep your cats indoors on "spray day."
  • Small Hazards
    Rubber bands, paper clips, thumb tacks, broken balloons, Christmas tree tinsel and other small articles are irresistible play objects for kittens, but pose a choking hazard to cats. Put them away in containers, and leave the tinsel off the tree this year. A good rule of thumb is to put anything away that you would not want a toddler to get his hands on--the same reasoning goes for your kitten or cat.
The Garage
It's probably better to label the garage "off-limits" to your cat. Too many poisonous/hazardous materials are stored there. Anti-freeze is particularly poisonous and is attractive to animals because of its sweet taste. Make sure that any spilled anti-freeze is cleaned up immediately, and the garage floor thoroughly washed. Also, be aware that cats have been killed when an unknowing person starts up a car engine with a sleeping cat under the hood. It's a favorite napping place because of the engine warmth, so make it a practice of honking your horn before firing up, if there's any chance your cat may have slipped into the garage.

The Safe Room
Set aside a "safe room" for your new arrival. Put his food dish, litter box, toys, scratching post and bed in it. Give this room a thorough going over, using our list. Once your new kitten or adult cat has had a chance to acclimate to your household and his "safe room", it will be time to let him explore the rest of your happily cat-proofed home.

Welcome home, Kitty!

Start of Series > Getting a New Cat > Part 1, 2, 3, 4

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