Cat-Proofing Your Home: Hidden Dangers You May Have Forgotten

Curious cat climbing dresser
Keep statues or vases out of reach — they can fall on curious kitties. 

Cat-proofing your home has two goals: protecting your cat and protecting your home. The best time to get started is before your new cat or kitten arrives to distract you. Your cat can squirm under furniture and discover stuff you never knew was in your house. And he can climb things and topple items you never thought he could reach. Curiosity can kill — or at least injure — your cat. And it can destroy your prized possessions. So think like a cat and start prowling the house for danger.

Hidden Dangers

  • Uncovered electrical outlets. These can cause shocks when licked.
  • Electrical wires. These can cause shocks when chewed. They can also topple lamps and appliances when pulled. Tape them together and out of reach. Do the same with long phone cords. Better yet, buy plastic conduit or flat strips of vinyl to cover them and hold them flat to the floor.
  • Little things: rubber bands, thumbtacks, paper clips, deflated balloons. All of these can be enticing playthings but pose a choking hazard.
  • Big things, such as unsecured bookcases. Top-heavy or unstable furniture can topple over onto a cat should he hang from it.
  • Hanging cords for blinds. They may look fun to play with but can become wrapped around a kitten's neck. Tie the cords out of reach or cut them so they don't form a loop.
  • Open windows (or ones with loose screens), as well as decks and balconies. These can result in falls.
  • Unsecured doors. You don't want your cat to accidentally wander outside or get caught in a door slamming shut from a breeze.
  • Swinging doors. These can trap a kitten’s head and neck.
  • An open fireplace. Protect your cat from getting burned by using a secure fire screen.
  • Precariously placed statues or vases. They can fall on a curious kitten.
  • Hanging tablecloths. If pulled, they can bring dishes crashing down, possibly injuring the kitten.
  • Long strings. If swallowed, they can damage the intestines or cause a blockage, requiring surgery.
  • Craft or sewing kits. These may hold needles and threads that can be swallowed, causing severe injury and illness.
  • Houseplants. They may be enticing to munch on, but some can be toxic. Know your plants or, even better, put them all out of reach.
  • Household cleaners containing pine or phenol. These chemicals are particularly toxic to cats. Never use these to clean the cat's bowls or sleeping quarters.
  • Laundry room dangers, such as fabric softener sheets and laundry pods. These can be toxic, and open dryer doors (or front-loading washer doors) can be inviting for a cat to nap inside on the clothes — before the door is shut and the appliance is turned on.

The Kitchen

  • Open cabinets holding cleaners and degreasers. These are potential poisoning hazards.
  • Accessible garbage pails. Rancid food and splintering bones can cause poisoning, sickness or intestinal injury.
  • Plastic wraps. If swallowed, they can create a choking hazard or lodge in the intestines.
  • Foods and beverages containing xylitol and alcohol (like sugar-free chocolate, sugarless candy and gum). These additives have been known to sometimes cause fatal toxicity in cats.

The Bathrooms

  • Pills and medicines. It takes only one ibuprofen or acetaminophen to kill a kitten.
  • Drain cleaners. They can poison a cat or cause eye, skin or mouth injuries.
  • Razors. If played with, they can cut the mouth and paws, and if swallowed the results can be disastrous. 

The Garage

  • Antifreeze. This chemical is very deadly to cats. Even walking through a puddle and licking it off the paws can cause fatal kidney failure.
  • Fuels, cleaners, paints, herbicides, insecticides and fertilizers. All of these can be toxic to cats.
  • Rodent bait. It's enticing to eat, but fatal to cats, as well as rodents.

The Yard

  • Puddles of antifreeze in the driveway.
  • Rotted limbs that can fall onto your cat.
  • An unfenced pool. Cats can drown if they fall in.
  • Treated lawns and decks. They may have toxic chemicals that the cat could potentially lick off his paws.
  • Poisonous plants.
  • Insect hives. A digging or playing cat could disturb the insects and cause them to attack.
  • A fence that cats can get through as it is dangerous to let your cats roam

Look on the bright side: Your house has probably never looked so orderly. Except maybe for the kitten hanging from the drapes. Maybe now's the time to cover the furniture or put the cat in a room that's designated as a cat-safe area. And break out the cat toys! Congratulations on your new addition.

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