How Do I Keep My Kitten From Breaking My Collectibles?

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Q. We adopted a kitten a few months ago, and she is up on everything — from the china cabinet to the refrigerator. The problem is that I have my collectibles on shelves, and she has broken a couple after knocking them off. How can I teach her to stay on the ground?

A. Kids will be kids, puppies will be puppies and kittens will be kittens. And with kittens, you’re talking about animals who run, jump, climb and pretty much get into anything. They’re still working on takeoffs and landings, and that means anything that can be knocked off a shelf is at high risk.

Put valuables out of kitty's reach. It’s actually much easier, at least while your pet is a rambunctious kitten, to put your fragile items away. Either just pack them up for a few months or put them safely behind doors in glass-fronted cabinets. The heavier items that you don't mind risking can be secured with putty used by museum curators — it's sold in home supply stores as QuakeHold. You take a little ball and put it on the bottom of the item, then press the item into the shelf. Though it’s not foolproof — or cat-proof — it ought to stand up to a kitten brushing by.

Many cats are far more content to stay on the ground when they reach adulthood, but some cats never lose their fondness for acrobatics. If your kitten turns out to be one of those, you’ll still want to keep your items secured because you can’t 100 percent guarantee you can train your cat to leave them alone.

Give your kitten an appropriate place to climb. You can encourage your kitten to go vertical on approved items such as cat trees and cat steps that mount onto walls. At the same time, discourage roaming elsewhere by putting tape or shelf paper sticky side up on surfaces you don’t want jumped on; sheets of slightly crinkled foil will discourage exploration as well. Cats just don’t like to step on these surfaces.

But we all have to make accommodations for sharing our lives with our wonderful pets. Putting your most prized collectibles where your cat can’t get to them is the only surefire way to protect them.

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