Ten Tips for Cat-Proofing Your Home

Ever heard the expression “Curiosity killed the cat?” If you’ve got cats at home, you know they love to explore. Did you know that there are many household items that can present a danger to your curious cat? You can eliminate hazards to your pet with these ten easy steps to pet-proofing your home.

• Keep blind and drapery cords out of reach. A hanging cord is an invitation for most cats to play. However, these cords can be a choking hazard for cats or kittens if the cord gets looped around the neck.

• Secure electrical cords to baseboards or walls. Just like blind cords, hanging electrical cords are an invitation to play. Cats can snag the electrical cords and pull lamps or appliances on top of themselves. Some cats and kittens may chew on the cords as well. If they bite through the cord, it’s possible they could electrocute themselves. Secure the cords to baseboards using electrical tape or staples. When using staples, be careful not to puncture the cord, or you could wind up electrocuting yourself. You can also use a pet repellent spray.

• Place plants on high shelves or use hanging baskets. Some plants, such as poinsettias, are poisonous to animals and can cause serious illness. Even if the plants you have are not poisonous, your cat may not be able to completely digest leaves, petals or other plant matter; and he may wind up with an upset tummy. If your cats goes outdoors, keep him off the grass if you’ve treated it with any

• Don’t let your cat play with plastic bags. Cats and kittens may like the crinkly noise the bags make, but they can suffocate if they crawl inside the bag. Or, if it’s a bag with handles like you get at the grocery store, your pet could strangle if he gets his head caught.

• Pick up small objects. Cats are naturally curious, and like human babies, often put things in their mouths that they shouldn’t. Keep small objects like paper clips, tacks, coins and bits of paper off the floor and out of your pet’s mouth. These small objects could be a choking hazard. And remember, what goes in has to come out, often with surgery.

• Put an end to the toilet seat debate by keeping a lid on it if you have pets. Just this morning I found one of my cats attempting to get a drink out of the toilet. If I hadn’t heard him jump on the seat, he probably would have fallen in. A crazed, wet cat loose in my house is not my idea of a good time. Also, if you treat your water with any kind of chlorinated tablet, the water could be harmful for your cat to drink. If you have a hot tub or pool, it’s best to keep it covered when not in use. If your cat falls in, he may not be able to get out.

• Keep closet, basement, and garage doors closed, and use caution when opening outside doors unless you have a cat that is both an inside and outside cat. I can’t count the number of tie s my cats have gotten accidentally locked in closets; or followed me into the basement without my knowing it. Basements and garages present dangers of their own. There are all kinds of dark places to explore, and your cat may love this, but there could also be rat poison, antifreeze and other harmful substances you want to keep your cat away from.

• Cat food is for cats; people food is for people. You probably wouldn’t want to snack on Fluffy’s food; don’t let her snack on yours. Don’t give your cat chocolate. We love it, but it can be harmful to kitty. Chocolate contains chemicals that are toxic to pets. Malt or chocolate-flavored treats or medicines made especially for cats are OK.

• As much as we try to train them not to, cats are going to get on your counters. Keep them away from hot irons, stoves burners, space heaters, curling irons, and other appliances like this. If your cat brushes up against a hot appliance, not only will it probably burn him; if he knocks the hot object off the counter in his haste to escape, it could cause a fire.

• Gift-giving occasions such as birthdays or holidays come with a new set of hazards for pets. Keep glitter, ribbons and other accessories out of reach of your animals. Last Christmas I spent two hours and over $100 at the vet because one of my cats ate a ribbon off of a gift that was under my tree. It was a costly lesson; but now I don’t use ribbons on my gifts.

Following these ten easy steps can save you a trip to the vet or kitty ER.

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