Cat-Proofing Your Home For Newborn Kittens

Newborn kittens are totally dependent on the mother cat until about 6 weeks of age. After 12 to 15 weeks of age, kittens are ready to separate from their mothers. At this time, you, as their owner, must keep them safe and secure. Part of that responsibility involves carefully "cat-proofing" your entire home, even after your kitten grows up. Remember: A home can contain a myriad of hazards for the inquisitive kitten or cat. Here is a partial list of common household hazards, and what to do about them:

Keep Poisons out of Reach

  • Research which plants are poisonous to kittens and cats, and get rid of them.
  • Store medicines, cleaning supplies, auto fluids, glues, adhesives, insecticides and paint supplies in containers or cabinets with "child-proof" latches.
  • Don't leave "Pools" of Water Unattended
  • Do not leave the toilet lid up. Kittens and cats may drown if they fall in.
  • Do not leave a bathtub, sink or pail filled with water unattended. Kittens and cats can drown in very shallow water.

Store Away Small or Sharp Objects

  • Store small or sharp objects-for instance, coins, needles, rubber bands, tacks, paper clips, and more-in a locked container, to prevent choking and intestinal damage.
  • Store fishing supplies in a locked tackle box. Veterinarians often have to remove hooks from a feline's mouth or paws; moreover, fishing lines can sever the intestines.

Kittens Can Choke on or Strangle Themselves with String and Cords

  • Cut the loops of dangling window treatment cords or bundle them out of reach; they can cause strangulation.
  • Put away toys with strings when you are not supervising your kitten's playtime.
  • Store craft supplies-like ribbons, yarn, and string-in a locked crafts box. If ingested, they can cause intestinal obstruction, which can be fatal. (For this reason, putting ribbons in your kitty's hair can be dangerous.)
  • Discard strings from cooked meat immediately; if ingested, they can damage the intestines.

Don't Leave Open Flames Unattended

  • Do not place candles within reach, and do not open fires unattended.
  • Separate wood stoves and fireplaces from the rest of the room with sturdy screens.

Be Careful and Aware of the Dangers of Appliances

  • Close washers and dryers immediately; always check to see if a napping cat is inside before you turn either on.
  • Close refrigerator and freezer doors immediately.
  • Seal an unused refrigerator or freezer shut.
  • Never leave hot burners or open ovens unattended.
  • Close microwave doors immediately.
  • Install child proof latches on cupboards in all rooms of the house and garage.
  • Tie up and remove from reach electrical cords; kittens and cats chewing on them may be electrocuted. Or, purchase protective plastic electrical runners at a hardware store.

Dangers of Furniture and Windows

  • Check for kittens hiding in folding furniture, like beds and sofas. Left there, kittens may be crushed.
  • Keep window and door screens in good repair to prevent injury and escape.

Foods that Can Harm Kittens

  • Keep adult treats-like chocolate, coffee, and tea-out of reach. They contain xanthines, which can cause seizures and death.
  • Keep hard candy out of reach. It can cause choking.
  • Keep grapes and raisins out of reach. They can cause kidney damage.
  • Never allow kittens or cats to eat uncooked meat, which may contain disease-causing bacteria and parasites.
  • Discard bones from fish, meat and poultry. They can lacerate the digestive and intestinal tracts.
  • Store uncooked yeast dough out of reach. It can expand and rupture the stomach and intestines.

Alcohol and Tobacco

  • Never give kittens or cats alcoholic beverages, and always rinse glasses immediately. Intoxication can be fatal to kittens and cats.
  • Keep tobacco products and ash trays out of reach. Tobacco poisoning (signaled by excitation, salivation, vomiting and diarrhea) requires immediate medical attention and can be fatal.

Diseased Food and Dangerous Food Items

  • Do not leave scraps of food on counters or in open trash cans; discarded food can harbor disease-causing germs.
  • Place used plastic wrap and aluminum foil in a tightly covered trash can to prevent choking or intestinal obstruction.
  • Cut the plastic rings of beverage holders to prevent strangulation.