Thursday, January 13, 2011
Cat-Proofing Your Home
Cats are curious by nature, and they love to climb and jump on top of high places. While your new cat is getting used to her surroundings, she will be doing a lot of investigating and exploring. You need to make sure your home is safe and secure, and basically go through your home as if you were bringing home a toddler.
Follow these guidelines to make your home safe for your kitty:
1. Check all windows and screens to make sure they are very strong. Cats can push weak or torn screens out from the frame or tear them. Cats can escape even from second or third story (or higher!) windows and may injure themselves in the process. It is best to install new steel screens, or place metal grilles such as the ones available for screen doors over windows you wish to keep open. If in doubt, place pieces of wood in the window runner to stop it from opening more than an inch or so. Cats are stronger than you think!
2. If you have a balcony, make sure the cat cannot access it unless it is fully enclosed. Cats often try to leap onto railings after a bird and may fall. Balconies are not safe places for cats.
3. Remove plants that may be poisonous. Cats love to chew plants, and some cats may use potted plants as a litter box, so try to hang all plants out of reach or move them outside. If you are not sure if your plants are poisonous to cats, ask your vet. Common plants that are poisonous include philodendrons, ferns, all lilies, and poinsettias.
4. Lock up all cleaning supplies, drain openers, and other poisonous substances. Place them in a sealable plastic container with a latched lid. Make sure antifreeze is not accessible and do not allow your cat in your garage where leaked fluids can poison her. Animals are attracted to the sweet taste of antifreeze and other toxic substances.
5. Check for pest poisons and remove them. Rat poison, ant and roach poison, and rodent traps are all dangerous to cats. If you rent your home or recently moved in, do a thorough check for existing poisons because sometimes they are left behind by previous tenants. Check the back of all cupboards, drawers, closets, etc. Cats can become sick or die from eating the poison or from eating mice or insects that have ingested the poison.
6. Put away breakable items, especially on bookshelves and countertops where cats may investigate.
7. Remove dangling cords such as the strings from blinds and phone cords, or wrap them up and securely tie them out of reach. Cats can’t resist playing with these items and can become entangled and hang or choke. Tie up cords from blinds near the top of the window, and secure loose power cords and cables with ties out of reach or behind furniture. Some kittens and cats may also chew electrical cords and could be electrocuted – make sure your cords are tucked away or encase them in plastic cord-keeper tubes.
8. Pick up any small, swallowable items and strings. Rubber bands, paper clips, string, thumb tacks, broken balloons, tree tinsel and other small articles are tempting play objects for cats, but pose a choking hazard. String can cut the intestines if swallowed.
Important: if your cat ever swallows string, NEVER pull the string out from either end – you can cause internal damage. Call your vet immediately, and if the string is very long, cut the string near the cat.
9. Set aside a "safe room" for your new arrival. Put her food dish, water, and litter box, toys, scratching post and bed in it. Give this room a thorough going over. Once kitty is comfortable in her new surroundings, it will be time to let her explore the rest of your happily cat-proofed home.