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Keeping Cats Safe

Advice for Ensuring the Safety of Your Cats, Inside or Outdoors

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Some people scoff at what they perceive as "overly-protective" cat caregivers. I'd ask these folks, "Would you allow your toddler to play outdoors unsupervised? Would you leave your medicine cabinet unlocked, or let her play with rubber bands, paper clips, and thumb tacks?" "Do you have a first-aid kit for those times she needs patching up?"

Taking care of our cats is similar to caring for our human kids. Although cats physically age quicker than human children, they have the same lack of innate understanding that some things are harmful for them.

Please don't allow your cat to become a statistic to carelessness.

Cat-Proofing Your Home

These paper clips are colorful, but can choke a cat
Photo Credit: © iStock Photo/JoeLena
The most important task you need to do before bringing your first cat into your home is to make the place safe for your new cat or kitten. To do this most efficiently, you need to put yourself in the cat's place and "think like a cat." Start by practicing looking up, down, around and under. It will eventually become a habit.

Habits to Practice for a Cat-Safe Home

Open Dryer Door is an Invitation to a Cat
Photo Credit: © Franny Syufy
Now that you've learned to cat-proof your home, many of these habits will come naturally. I keep an eye out for little things dropped on the floor and pick them up as soon as I see them. Other habits have developed over the years. For example, I make it a point to close the clothes dryer door tightly after using it, then double-checking to make sure there's no cat inside before using it again.

Have a Disaster Plan for Your Cats

Cats in Bathtub Out-waiting a tornado warning
Photo Credit: © Ann Wood
I live in earthquake country, and floods are a threat every year. Other cat owners live in areas where devasting floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes are almost annual events. Fires can break out without advance warning. While we should not live in constant fear of disaster, we should have a contingency plan for our cats, should we have to evacuate them suddenly. Clicker training cats to go into a crate will be an enormous help should disaster arrive.

The facts are that hundreds of pets are lost every year to disasters, and, many more are rescued but never reunited with their owners because of lack of identification. So, plan now to avoid future confusion.

Assemble a First Aid Kit for Cats

Veterinarian Examining Cat
Photo Credit: © iStock Photo/Willie B. Thomas
Natural disasters aren't the only potential emergencies that can befall cat. Cuts, insect stings, and other wounds may require emergency first aid treatment to stabilize the cat before a trip to the veterinary clinic or E/R. Having a first aid kit close at hand, specifically designed for cats, will help save valuable time, should an emergency arise.

Human Foods Toxic to Cats

Photo of Chocolate-Covered Raisins
Photo Credit: © iStock Photo/Juanmonino
Cats should generally be discouraged from eating any human foods, simply because it develops bad habits, such as begging at the table, or worse, jumping on the table to help themselves. Another reason is that cats stuffed on human foods will generally disdain their own cat food, which was nutritionally developed to meet their carnivorous needs.

However, the most important reason is that some human foods are actually toxic to cats, in one degree or another. The photo depicts a "double-whammy" of toxicity, as chocolate and raisins are both known toxins to cats.

Garden Plants Toxic to Cats

Photo of Tiger Lily
Photo Credit: © iStock Photo/Sharon Kaasa
Statistically, cats live much longer and healthier lives if they are kept indoors at all times. However, some cultures allow cats outdoors, sometimes in gardens kept for that purpose. Even if your own cats are kept inside, neighboring cats may venture into your yard and nibble at the growing plants. Many outdoor plants are toxic to cats to one degree or another. This illustrated article lists some of those plants.

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