When you get a cat you might go on a shopping spree to buy everything it needs and a few more things besides. But there is one thing some people overlook which is as important, if not more, than food, collars, beds, and toys.
How to cat-proof your home is the ultimate guide created with your cat’s health and safety in mind. We’ve designed a step-by-step, room-by-room plan packed full of tips for cat-proofing your indoor and outdoor spaces ready for a cat or kitten. With a lifetimes experience under our belts, we’ve thought of absolutely everything!
Before the big day arrives, complete a risk assessment, make a plan of what you need to do and then put it into action. Remember, cats and kittens can get just about everywhere!
1. The Kitchen
The first thing you need to consider is if a kitten or cat could open your kitchen cupboards. You may want to install childproof locks to be safe as you don’t want a cat climbing in and knocking over breakables or eating things it shouldn’t.
The cupboard beneath our sink can be a real hazard. whatever you keep in yours, check the labels and make sure there is no way a cat can get at anything that will harm it.
If you keep sharp knives on your kitchen counter either on a magnetic board, in a block or in an open box, move them into a drawer or somewhere your cat can’t reach them.
Cooking hobs are a real danger, especially ones with metal hotplates. Think about how you will prevent your cat from jumping up and burning its paws. Until we changed to a glass induction hob, I used to place pans of cold water on the hotplates until they had cooled down.
An induction hob is fantastic as it loses heat rapidly when a pan is removed. If you cook with gas, make sure it isn’t possible for a cat to accidentally turn on and ignite – I have heard of this happening.
Make sure your trashcan is catproof as many things we put in there are bad for cats – such as chicken bones, used tea bags, coffee grinds, and rotten food.
2. The Utility and Laundry Room
Make sure all your detergents are in catproof containers or tightly closed bottles. If you have a toploading washer and dryer always keep the lids down.
Once your cat is home, always check the drums are empty before you load any laundry in. Check your cat isn’t in amongst the washing before you load it into the machine.
If you leave a hot iron to cool down make sure it isn’t somewhere a cat could come into contact with it or knock it down.
3. The Bathrooms
Many cats are fascinated by the toilet pan and so it’s really important to keep the lid closed. Allowing a cat to drink from the toilet bowl is a bad idea for two reasons: its full of germs and the residue of toilet cleaner could also make it ill. Keep your toilet cleaning brush where your cat can’t play with it.
If you walk away whilst the bath is filling get into the habit of closing the door, especially if you run the hot tap first. If you can’t do this, then run the hot and cold at once to avoid the possibility of scolded paws.
If you keep medicines an pills in your bathroom ensure your cat is unable to get at those too.
4. The Living Room
It may seem like a safe place but cats can always find or create hazards. If you have a large flat-screen TV, check that it is extremely stable – imagine a cat standing on its back legs and leaning on the screen with its front paws and doing the same to the back surface. If it could easily topple either screw it to the stand or anchor it to the wall with a fixing kit.
All electrical cables are a hazard if chewed or clawed by a cat. You can cover them with cable protector such as this (click the link to read reviews on Amazon).
If you have fragile ornaments you can be sure a kitten or cat will knock them over, either by accident or as a game. Find a new safe home for those.
If you have an open fire, a wood-burner or a gas fire, buy a suitable guard with a top. There’s no point in having the type of guard that a cat can just jump over. If you’ve ever touched the top of a wood-burning stove, you can imagine what would happen to a cat’s paws if it came into contact with one.
Avoid burning candles where a cat could get near them. Cat fur catches alight very easily, especially long fluffy fur. Either don’t burn them at all or place them in very tall jars so that the flame is well-protected.
We’ll cover house plants further down.
5. The Basement
It’s probably best to keep the basement as a no go area for cats. What with furnaces, boilers, fuse boxes and not to mention precariously stacked boxes and the kinds of things that might be stored down there, they definitely aren’t the ideal place for an inquisitive kitten or cat.
6. The Attic
The same as for basements really – not the safest place for cats to hang out. Insulation, water storage tanks, and boxes of who knows what can all pose a danger to a nosey feline.
7. Balconies and High Windows
It is difficult to catproof a balcony as cats are quite amazing climbers when the mood takes them. Contrary to popular belief about cats always landing on their feet, or having 9 lives, a fall from the second floor can cause severe injury.
It’s essential to cat-proof windows. If you like to leave windows open ensure they are safely screened or can be secured with an opening smaller than 3 inches for an average-sized adult cat or even less for a kitten or small cat.
If you have a sunroom your cat will love the heat. But ensure it can’t get shut in there as on a hot day this could prove fatal – like leaving a dog in a hot car. Make sure the door is safely wedged open at all times.
9. The Garage
We keep so many things in our garages apart from the car. Keep the cat out at all times but in case it slips in there, ensure there are no nasties in open containers.
Antifreeze is extremely harmful to cats so make sure yours is safely stored if you have any. Any petrol and oil should be out of reach. Make sure all sharp tools, nails, and screws are covered and things in glass containers are placed where a cat can’t knock them over.
10. The Storage Shed
If you keep weed killer, bug repellent, slug pellets, rat poison or fertilizer, check it is in sturdy containers that aren’t leaking and won’t open if a cat knocks them over. Any sharp tools should be carefully stored. You may not intend to ever let your cat outside, let alone near the shed but it’s always best to be safe.
11. The Yard or Outside Space
If you do plan to let your cat outside, check the space carefully. Are there any sharp nails protruding from fences. Any barbed wire? You also might like to install tall fences in an attempt to keep your cat safely within your property.
Do you have a deep pond? If so ensure your cat can escape from either if it falls in. Ponds should have some means by which a cat can climb out.
If you have drain covers, make sure they are in good order. Septic systems should be secured so a cat cannot enter.
We’ll talk about garden plants later.
12. The Greenhouse
A greenhouse is just as dangerous as a sunroom to a cat. Make sure your cat can never get trapped inside one. Also, check that if it does accidentally get in there is nothing left out that could poison it.
plants, heat (too hot), plant foods, fertilizers, getting trapped
13. Swimming Pools
Cats are fascinated by these and if push comes to shove, they can swim. If they fall into a pool they can struggle to get out – if you have a pool consider installing a ramp to make it easy for any cat (not just your own) to exit.
Beware of pool covers that float on the surface. Cats can be tempted to walk on these. The cover sinks, the cat is plunged into the water and then gets trapped beneath the cover where no-one can see it.
14. Hazards that lurk everywhere
Many house and garden plants are toxic to cats. Rather than list them here follow this link to see a comprehensive list compiled by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
You’ll find toxic and safe plants here. If you have a plant that isn’t mentioned, err on the side of caution and dispose of it.
Any cords that dangle in your house could potentially choke a cat. Check all your blinds, curtains and other window furnishings and ensure none of them have loops.
You can cut these to make two strings and put a toggle on each end. If you don’t want to do this, wrap them securely around a cleat or knot them up high out of your cat’s reach.
Gaps that lead under floors, behind walls, into eaves are all potential places for cats to get stuck. Block any gaps before you bring a kitten or cat home.
How to cat-proof your home – Conclusion
It might seem like a mind-blowing amount of stuff to think about and you may think some of it is overkill. But cat-proofing your home is essential fo your cat’s safety.
Most of these things are common sense but we hope we’ve made you think about a few things you may not have ever thought of. Anything that keeps cats safe is worth it.