You got a new kitten! So soft, and adorable, and fun! Don’t forget super curious, intrepid, and instinctively mischievous as well! Kitten proofing a home may seem like a daunting task. They’re so small, and smart, and just don’t want to listen! Argh!
Calm down, its actually reasonably simple. I’ll break it down for you.
First and Foremost: Cables, Wires, and Cords.
Kittens love to chew cables! It’s the first thing you’ll discover when you bring your kitty home. To avoid a fried kitty or a house fire, go to the nearest computer hardware store, or home hardware store, and buy cable covers. They are usually a kind of hard thick plastic tube that you can gather your cables, cords, or wires together inside, effectively making them chew proof.
Tip: I’ve heard spraying said danglies with something that tastes and smells terrible to cats is effective as well. Try lemon Pledge or orange oil – all cats HATE citrus smells! However, I wouldn’t rely solely on that when electricity is concerned. This also makes the cables sticky and unpleasant to handle. Check out your local pet store for less sticky options.
Next: Poisonous Plants
There are many websites online with a complete list of plants, household substances, foods, and any other imaginable dangerous to ingest substance known to kittens. Yes, Google is your friend, big time. Some houseplants can be completely toxic to your new best friend. If in doubt – throw it out. It’s the spider plant or your kitten (Yes, seriously).
Beware the ‘Clinging Stage’
For some reason only known to Mother Nature, Kittens like to jump and cling to things. I would suggest temporarily putting away table cloths, doilies, or any other decorative hanging cloth that might have something heavy adorning it. Until your kitten has gotten over the YIPPEE-JUMP-HANG-LOOK CRAZY-DROP stage, which lasts for several months, then hide your home furnishings.
Be Safe Around Toddlers and Young Children
Please don’t take this the wrong way if you have children…. but they are a hazard to kittens. They need to be taught how to handle them properly, not to stuff them in to places upside down, or where they can’t breathe, not to swing them by their tails, and not to throw them off of any heights because ‘maybe they can fly’. Kids are imaginative. It could happen.
You must be constantly vigilant if you have small children and a kitten in the same room. Keep them from stomping near the kitten in case little Zippy darts the wrong way and ends up as a kitten pancake. For the most part, kittens have sharp self-preservation skills and will run in the opposite direction of something that they deem a little too risky. But just in case, educate the kids, and pay attention at all times.
When You’re Not Home
Until the kitten has learned the lay of the land, and has matured enough to be less fragile, always put them somewhere safe when you’re not home. Especially if there are other pets in the home.
A bedroom that’s sufficiently kitten proofed, or bathroom, is a good choice. Just put the bathroom nick-knacks away if you cherish them. And hide the toilet paper. And maybe shut the garbage in a cupboard too. They can be pretty darned hell-bent on getting in to trouble, as you’ll discover each night when you get home.
Kittens are like toddlers on catnip. Curiosity CAN indeed kill the cat, or kitten, and dealing with a wounded or dead kitten is very disturbing and painful to the whole family. So keep your eyes peeled, and take the above steps seriously.
Cat & Dog Behaviorist