An Unkempt Garden of

Kittens and cats are lively and curious, which can lead them into serious trouble unless you take preventative measure. Also remember that your cat has a lower vantage point than your own, like a baby who has begun to crawl, and may be attracted to things you do not see when you are standing.

It's practically impossible to absolutely cat-proof your home against accidents, and you may have hazards in your home that are unique to that environment, so it's best to go through the house slowly, thinking carefully about what might be harmful. Here are some suggested starting points:

  • Securely screen all windows. Keep kittens off balconies and high decks.
  • Securely store poisonous materials in tightly closed areas kittens cannot access. Remember, cats are handy little creatures and have been known to open cabinets and doors.
  • Remove poisonous houseplants or place them in hanging baskets completely our of your cat's reach. Note that kittens can often find ways to get to high platforms like fireplace mantels or tall file cabinets, so look for routes like this. The ASPCA web site has a database of plants with information on how poisonous each one is. Notable plants that are poisonous include lilies, amaryllis, and similar bulb plants, ivy, philodendron, and many other common houseplants.
  • Keep all types of string completely away from kittens and cats, including the string from frayed carpets and hangings. Some kittens find string and yarn irresistible, not only to play with, but to eat. If a kitten eats string it can easily become caught through the length of the lower digestive tract, where it can twist and cut the intestines. This can kill the kitten, or require serious surgery to fix.
    One thing many people overlook is the cords on venetian (or vertical) window blinds. Cats, especially kittens, can get caught in these and strangle. A wall cleat like this one can help.
  • If someone in the household has long or even medium-length hair, be extra careful about keeping hairs from remaining on the floor or in the shower.
  • Keep toilet seat lids down. Small kittens can drown; larger kittens can just make a grody mess. Some cats are fascinated by water, and some just try to jump up to the sink to investigate the goings-on there. Start practicing this before your kitten comes home, since it can be difficult to remember at first.
  • Keep exposed electrical cords as short as possible, and watch the kitten closely for the first few days in case he likes to chew them. This can not only damage the cords, it can lead to electrocution of the kitten.
  • Keep small items like needles, pins, thumbtacks, nails, screws, seeds, and jewelry where kittens can't get to them -- kittens will eat things you wouldn't expect.
  • Look around for things you absolutely don't want a kitten to chew or knock over, and put those things away or out of reach. Be aware that small kittens can climb on curtains, hangings, clothing, drawer handles, shower curtains, and other things you might not expect, and that they will jump longer and longer distances as they grow.
  • If you have a fireplace, block the front securely so that your kitten won't get inside. Please note that kittens can wriggle in even very small gaps of metal mesh curtains.