When I adopted a feral kitten, I genuinely assumed it would be so much easier than getting a dog.
He was so smol. All he needed was a litter box and a scratching post. RIGHT? So easy.
That tiny fuzzy monster went absolutely nuts in my apartment.
Carpet, shredded. Cords, chewed. Sun-baked, rickety window screens? Climbed. High cupboards? Inexplicably opened, their contents spilled to the floor.
Simply put, kitten proofing is a topic I wish I'd Googled before I got a kitten. And I was lucky he didn't get into any meds or toxic foods (because I definitely didn't know cats weren't allowed to eat things like oranges).
What are the biggest risks for indoor cats and kittens?
We've talked about outdoor cats and the risks that face them at length. What about our indoor fuzzies?
One study breaks it down into three key categories of dangers:
toxic substances (cleaning products, plants, flowers, medications, toxic foods)
injuries or bites from other animals (including other cats)
Hmm, no mention of falling out of windows, which I was sure my kitten would eventually do. (Thankfully, that didn't happen.)
OK, so let's get into the basics of kitten proofing before the little fuzzy one toddles adorably through your door.
Get rid of toxic plants
Houseplant poisoning among indoor pets is, sadly, pretty common. (Just ask your vet.)
Most of us aren't vets or botanists and don't actually know which plants are toxic and which are safe.
Even worse, the signs and symptoms of plant poisoning can be acute or slowly build over time and might go unnoticed until it's too late. Here are a few that might be lurking at your place.
Yes, I used their proper Latin names. Get ready to be surprised when you see their photos.
To be 100% honest, I'm just now learning that pretty much every single house plant I own is toxic. RIP, plant mom life.
But seriously, if you're getting a kitten (or have any pets at home), give these toxic plants away and look for some cat-safe plants like...grass!
Hide your chemicals
This is pretty obvious. Generally, cats shouldn't have unlimited access to bleach or toilet bowl cleaner.
But you might underestimate how sneaky your kitty can be. Some talented kittens have been known to figure out how to open cupboards where you think your chemicals are safely stowed.
Another danger for your kitten? Medications--both pet and human ones. Make sure that all meds are securely stored, preferably in locked cabinets or inaccessible drawers.
Try to buy kid- and pet-friendly cleaning supplies whenever possible, and make sure to use baby locks on your cabinets where anything toxic is stored.
Know your foods (and secure them)
If you like to give your cat tidbits of what you're eating, you should definitely educate yourself on foods that are safe for cats (and aren't safe). We actually built a database with lots of safe and unsafe foods listed. It's a pretty helpful resource.
But ALWAYS check with your vet first. While we wish we knew each and every one of your kittens individually, the truth is, we don't.
Make sure that trash is secured and toxic foods aren't left on countertops, particularly during the holidays. And make sure THEIR food is securely locked up, rather than in an accessible cupboard in it’s normal bag. Food motivated babies will chew right through that plastic and help themselves.
Block off unsafe areas (or other people and animals)
Gates are especially handy when you want your new kitten to be separated from other pets and even kids when they first come home.
If you have an older, more adventurous kitten, they could probably scale a gate or playpen. But it's nice for your kitten to have the option to retreat safely from an overly curious dog.
A generally tidy house is really helpful. Keeping toys with strings, electrical cords, chargers, etc. put away in secure spots will help keep your kitten out of trouble.
We've written at length about child and pet safety at home, by the way. If you have kids at home and you're hoping to introduce them to a new kitten, give it a read!
Use anti-tip straps
This is something we did for our climbing toddler recently, but it applies to kittens, too.
If you have any furniture that can be knocked over, secure it. They sell furniture-securing straps like this at home improvement stores, and it can save your curious kitten's life.
A handy shopping list for kitten-proofing
So we wrote a whole post on your new kitten shopping checklist, but here are some specific items that may help keep your kitten safe:
Stair gates or playpen (to keep young kittens in or curious pets or kids out)
Kid and pet-safe house cleaners and supplies (to replace unsafe chemicals)
Cupboard child-proof locks
Fake plants (sob) or safe cat grass
If this looks like a baby registry, well, it kind of is. Feel free to send it to your family and friends.
And while you're at it, consider buying kitten insurance for your new bundle of joy. It can help reimburse you for unexpected accidents or illnesses.
From the bottom of my heart, congratulations on the addition to your fur family!