"Kitten proofing your home before bringing your new pet home
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"Kitten proofing your home before bringing your new pet home

Cats
Health & Safety

Anyone who is preparing to bring a new puppy home will probably be all too aware of the need to go around assessing potential risks and puppy proofing them, which can be just as challenging and involved as making your home safe for a human baby that is just starting to find their feet!

However, if you are about to get a new kitten, it is also important to think about their safety and wellness during their first few weeks with you, when kittens are growing quickly and seem to get into everything, including possibly getting themselves into a tangle!

Kittens should not leave their queen and littermates until they are at least twelve weeks of age, and a three-month-old cat might still be small and delicate looking but they are also apt to be really lively, inquisitive and playful. The sheer range of different ways in which kittens can come unstuck when exploring a new home are impressive, if not rather daunting!

In this article, we will look at the importance of kitten proofing your home, how to assess potential risks, and the various ways in which you can mitigate them. Read on to learn more.

Kittens and risk

Like baby animals of any species, kittens are not well prepared to take care of themselves fully in the same way that an adult cat will be-they will not be risk-savvy about traffic, dogs and other hazards, nor have faced real danger or potential cause for fear. This means that kittens often have a boldness to them that can cause them to get into difficulties very quickly, with little effort! Whilst most kittens grow up and thrive without incident even in homes that have not been kitten-proofed, for your kitten’s safety and your own peace of mind, taking some small, simple steps to protect your kitten from obvious hazards is a great idea.

Doors and windows

A young kitten will likely never have been outside before, and they will probably be keen to do so if they get the chance. Even though it is likely that you do plan for your kitten to be an indoor/outdoor cat, this is something that needs management and supervision during the early days, and it should not be left to your kitten to find their own way out!

This means that you should be very vigilant about external doors and windows, in terms of keeping them closed, and with the kitten on the right side of them! If you have a porch or lobby, use it as a kind of corral to ensure that you never have both doors open simultaneously, and close off any rooms with open windows.

Even a small gap in a very high up window may be accessible to your kitten, particularly if they are just learning to climb the blinds or curtains! Not only is there an inherent risk in a kitten going outside on their own without their owner’s knowledge and also the risk of falling when trying to access a window, but not knowing whether or not your cat is inside and hiding or may be out on the streets alone can be both worrying and waste valuable time looking in the wrong place.

Use window guards or inserts to secure open windows while your kitten is young, and be vigilant about opening external doors!

Nooks and crannies

Cats and kittens love small, enclosed spaces, such as cardboard boxes and nook shelving, and many cat owners are continually astounded about how well cats can hide when they want to, and how small and inaccessible the spaces they seem to be able to find are!

Small spaces such as these can make a great resting place for your kitten and help them to settle in and feel secure, but you should ensure that you make a note of where they all are, particularly if your cat starts using them. If your cat is hiding and you can’t find them, you might assume that they have gotten out or wandered off, which will both waste your time looking for them and pose a real threat of just that scenario happening if you leave the door to outside open for a kitten that is actually inside!

Core risks

  • Ensure that open doors will not close or slam and trap or hurt your kitten-use hooks or doorstops as necessary.
  • Ensure that windows and doors to outside are secured and safe. Don’t forget about the hatch to the attic if you open it!
  • Never leave the door to the washing machine or tumble dryer open, and unless your kitten is right in front of you, check laundry (that your kitten may be sleeping in) carefully before you put it in the machine or turn it on.
  • Close the bathroom door-a kitten that falls into a full bath will not be able to get out on their own and may drown. Treat other sources of water such as fish tanks or ponds with the same respect!
  • Remember that even small kittens are adept climbers, and may shimmy up the curtains to find an open window or gap. This also means that stable-doors and other partial barriers like baby gates are not likely to prove much of a match for your kitten if they are determined to pass by! They may, however, be useful in terms of keeping dogs out of the room your kitten is in.
  • Remember that some plants can be toxic to cats-lilies in particular are highly toxic and should never be kept in a house or garden with cats, so make sure that you have removed any plants that are harmful, and apply the same rules to cut flowers.
  • Things that sparkle, trail around or wave in the breeze will attract your kitten, and not all of these will be safe for your pet to play with. Provide appropriate toys for your pet, and keep ribbons, wool, shoe laces and electrical wires well out of reach.
  • Stay vigilant and risk-assess your own home-it would be impossible to cover every potential eventuality and all homes are different, so view kitten-proofing as a continual and adaptive process, and not a box to tick off and forget!
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