How to Cat-Proof Your Home
You may have heard the saying “as curious as a cat,” and it’s true—cats are notorious for their curiosity. But, when welcoming a new cat into your home, that unbridled curiosity can get them into some tricky situations if your home hasn’t been cat-proofed. So, before your new kitten or adopted cat comes home, take a cat's-eye tour of your house and yard and make any necessary changes to keep your new cat safe in their new environment.
Cat-proofing your home and yard
While a new cat shouldn’t be left unsupervised to roam your whole house when you first welcome them home, you’ll want to make sure any accessible areas have been made safe for them as they explore their new domain. As you go room to room preparing for your new family member, here are some of the most common hazards for pets and ways to avoid them.
Tips to cat proofing areas in your home
Common areas can often be the most difficult to pet-proof because many people use these rooms and may leave out items that shouldn’t be around pets.Be sure your whole family is on the same page when it comes to cat-proofing your home so that your new pet stays safe. Some actions to consider:
- Tie up dangling drapery pulls and cords on window blinds that cats could become entangled in
- Pick up strings, yarn, sewing supplies, crafting items, rubber bands and other small items that may look enticing to play with but could cause obstructions if ingested
- Wrap exposed wires and cords with cord covers, secure them to the ground when possible and put cords away when not in use to discourage chewing
- Keep windows closed when your cat is unsupervised, and check and secure window screens so they cannot pop out if your cat rests on the sill
- Remove toxic houseplants and consider adding cat grass for edible, cat-friendly greenery
- Cover or block unwanted scratching areas (such as couch arms) until your new cat is accustomed to their scratching post
- Block fireplaces to avoid burns and keep your cat from investigating the chimney
Your kitchen can be home to a variety of dangers, so being vigilant in cat-proofing this room is important.
- Use covers over hot burners to avoid burns
- Keep appliance doors (like your dishwasher or washing machine) closed, and always double-check any appliance for a furry family member before closing it; you don’t want to accidentally trap your inquisitive kitty
- Use childproof latches to keep your cat out of cupboards where you store potentially dangerous items, such as cleaning products, vitamins, sharp knives and breakable items such as plates and baking dishes
- Keep food scraps in cabinets or the fridge to avoid ingestion of excess or harmful foods
- Remove hanging tablecloths that may be pulled down
- Keep trash secure; items like coffee grounds and toxic food scraps can be harmful if ingested
While you may not think of your laundry room as hazardous, cats love warm, cozy places and may be attracted to this area of your home.
- Keep appliance doors closed, and always double-check any appliance for a furry family member before closing it; you don't want to accidentally trap your inquisitive kitty
- Keep fabric softener sheets, mothballs and batteries locked away; they are all hazards to cats
A bedroom is a perfect place to allow your pet to become accustomed to your home and feel safe in a smaller area. However, before you welcome them into their mini oasis, it’s important to consider any items that could pose a risk.
- Never leave a burning candle unattended; they can ignite fur if your cat brushes past. It’s better to keep them out of reach and in rooms your pet does not have access to
- Move breakables like vases or glass items off bedside tables and spots frequented by your cat
- Secure bookcases and dressers to the wall so they’re not knocked over if your cat climbs or jumps up on them
Bathrooms can offer many tight spots to hide, so be sure there is nowhere your pet can become stuck while pet-proofing the room.
- Use childproof latches to keep your cat out of cupboards where you store potentially dangerous medications (and/or cleaning supplies, if housed in the bathroom)
- Close the toilet seat lid to avoid your cat getting into the water or ingesting any cleaning solutions from the bowl. Better yet, don’t use any cleaning solutions that cling to the side of the bowl or remain in the water
While it is recommended that cats remain indoors for their safety, considering any areas they may encounter if they get out will also help keep them safe.
- Put fishing line, twine and other strings away in cabinets or drawers
- Keep mouse traps, ant poison and rat poison where your cat can't reach them
- Lock away weed killers, antifreeze, paint and other hazardous items
- Know that tomato leaves and stems can cause harm to your cat, so cover any gardens with netting to deter chewing
- Thump on your car hood before starting your car in cold weather to ensure there are no cats sleeping in a warm engine compartment, and always check under your car before driving away
As much as you prepare to reduce risks for your cat, accidents can happen. Being prepared for those is essential as well.
- Keep the contact information to your cat’s vet readily accessible for any concerns or questions
- Know where, and how to contact, the closest emergency veterinarian in your area for any unexpected mishaps
- Keep the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center number (888-426-4435) available in case your pet ingests a potentially toxic or harmful substance (note, a fee may apply if the service is used)
While this checklist is a great place to start while cat-proofing your home, as you complete your home’s walkthrough, you will likely realize there are additional items and steps you should take to make your pet’s new home safe and secure for them. And, once your home is as cat-proofed as you can make it, you can also think about how to make it as welcoming and cozy as possible for your cat by adding a bed, scratching post, feline-friendly furniture, their own food and water bowls, toys as well as a litter boxes. By creating a safe, stimulating and welcoming environment, you can set your pet up to feel welcomed into your family.