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How to kitten proof a room [Ultimate Guide]

Kitten owners are often left wondering what will happen if they do not “kitten proof” their home. How many items in my house are actually dangerous? How can I tell the difference between something that is safe for a kitten and something that isn’t? How can I prevent my new furry friend from chewing on cords, getting into plants, or eating anything he shouldn’t be? These questions and more will be answered in this ultimate guide to ensuring your kitten’s safety!

You may brainstorm yourself “how to kitten proof a room”, but this list will help you make sure that you aren’t missing any unobvious steps.

All not-so-obvious aspects will be covered in-depth in this article. Also, I understand that there is a tremendous difference between knowing something and actually doing something. This is why I prepared a free downloadable checklist that will be super useful for everyone who needs to kitten proof their home.

Why you should trust this information

I am a certified cat behaviorist with more than 30 years of experience owning cats. During this period, I encountered many unique situations that could end in disaster if not properly managed. To make this information even more complete and reliable I consulted with numerous cat behaviorists, veterinary technicians, and when the article was finished, I asked Claudine Sievert, DVM to fact-check it.

Without any further ado, let’s get to the useful information!

Kitten proofing your home: understanding your main goal

Talking to a number of colleagues in our cat shelter, I noticed that the term “kitten proofing” has non-identical meanings for different people. This is why I want to define my understanding of this practice.

Kitten proofing your home means arranging all the objects in a human living space in such way that any cat can move around freely without getting stuck or injured, and while still having access to food sources, water dishes, litter boxes and other necessities.

The main goal of kitten proofing your house is to protect your pet. And the secondary goal of kitten proofing is protecting your furniture, devices, and other elements of the interior from damage.

Why Kitten-Proof?

There are many reasons for you to cat-proof a home. The most common causes for cat mortality are trauma, viral disorders, and respiratory disorders {{{Longevity and mortality of cats attending primary-care veterinary practices in England https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/36777711.pdf}}}.

Kitten-proofing is a set of simple practices that will prevent the causes of cat mortality and become a guarantee of your cat’s longevity and well-being.

Kitten-proofing is not obligatory and is not regulated by any laws. Each point in the list slightly decreases the probability of traumas and diseases. But, once you do all the points, the probability of such accidents and illnesses will be close to zero.

How to kitten proof your room and home step by step:

1. Get rid of any poisons

You may be using the poisons for rats, mice, cockroaches, ants, fleas, or other household pests. Or you may have an unguarded store of pesticides in the house.

If your kitten finds and eats one poison tablet, he is likely to die from it. Some sprays can even cause serious problems for a kitten if they get into his eyes or nose. And besides that, many poisons can cause a lot of discomfort, even if the kitten doesn’t have any direct contact with them.

Tip:

Please, make sure that you thoroughly clean any area where these items were stored. Poisons for home pests are highly concentrated and even a small amount can be fatal to a kitten.

2. Lock all the vents

This is one of the most overlooked tips to kitten proof a home, so please, pay extra attention to it.

If you are moving to a new house or apartment, the chances are that you still have don’t have the vent grids installed. That’s not too much trouble for humans. However, the kitten will find a way to investigate it and the outcome can be fatal. In the best-case scenario, you will have to break the wall to rescue a kitten.

Also, if you live in an old apartment or home, you should make sure that the vent grids are sturdy enough and won’t break if your kitten jumps on them.

Tip:

If you haven’t yet purchased the vent grids, you still should protect your cat from becoming a victim of the vents. There are two ways to temporarily protect the vent: either by installing an outlet cover or cutting off one of its sides and then securely attaching a piece of mesh wire in front. Please, make sure that there is no risk that your kitten can get stuck during his investigation.

3. Remove toxic plants

You might have cyclamen with its beautiful pink flowers on your windowsill. But did you know that this plant is poisonous to your kitten?

Actually, there is a very big list of plants that are toxic or even poisonous for your cat {{{Toxic plants and companion animals https://www.researchgate.net/publication/248908982_Toxic_plants_and_companion_animals}}}.

Your kitten may ingest the toxins if he starts to nibble on your plants. Kittens are very curious and they may try to chew on a toxic plant just to explore the world. Also, the cats ingest plants and grass to help with the digestion of their food.

In order to keep the risk of poisoning as low as possible, you should remove any toxic plants from proximity to your kitten.

10 most toxic household plants for cats are:

  1. Lilies (Lilium Sp.)
  2. Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale)Cyclamen (Cyclamen spp.)
  3. Peonies (Paeoniaceae)
  4. Oleander (Nerium oleander)
  5. Tulips (Tulipa spp.)Dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia spp.)
  6. Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  7. 1Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)

However, there are 412 more toxic plants for cats, so please, be careful.

Tip 1:

Pay attention that toxic flowering plants may leave the pollen in your room even after you remove them. Your kitten may inhale the pollen and get intoxicated. This is why you should clean all the flat surfaces and ventilate the room after removing a toxic flower.

Tip 2:

Do not forget that vacuuming is one of the ways to prevent pollen accumulation in your room. You can use it for cleaning up after removing any flowering plant, but make sure you buy one with a HEPA filter or just at least wash all filters regularly. Please, check our article with the best vacuums for pet hair. All the considered models have HEPA filters and will help you with this task.

4. Lock the window screens

Cats have fewer cones in their eyes, so they are more sensitive to light and they can see fewer light reflections{{{Feline Vision: How Cats See the World https://www.livescience.com/40459-what-do-cats-see.html }}}. For this reason, cats can see through clear glass, but they are not sure if it exists or not. And there is a number of things behind the window that may catch your cat’s attention: birds, trees, moving people, and a lot of other things.

Your cat may try to catch a bird or just to escape your flat out of curiosity. You should be always ready for such situations.

Tip 1:

Always keep the window screens locked to avoid this problem. The locked window screen won’t allow your cat to escape and get injured.

Tip 2:

Cover the window with curtains or blinds, it will not allow your cat from peeking out of the windows and get distracted by other things in the room.

Tip 3:

Invest in cat-proof window screens. Cat-proof window screens are perfect for those who have cats that want to make a leap. They are sturdier and will handle more weight.

5. Block the holes underneath the furniture

Kittens have an instinctive desire to explore hidden spaces. This helps them better understand their territory and to make sure there are no other predators or prey nearby. Also, the holes underneath your beds, sofas or any other furniture are perfect places to hide.

However, a kitten can be injured by having something heavy fall on them. Alternatively, it can find an old cockroach poison there or a small needle that may have been left behind.

So, to save your kitten from this unpleasant discovery and any potential harm it can cause, you should block all the holes underneath the furniture.

The best way to stop them is by blocking the areas where they might get stuck. You can use plastic sheets, duct tape, or even cardboard boxes with small openings on each side of the furniture leg.

Tip:

Apply the cat repellent to these areas to make sure that your cat won’t break through the defense.

6. Locate your cat before folding/unfolding the furniture

Personally, I know of at least five situations when kittens were killed by unfolding the sofa. Most of the furniture is much heavier than your kitten:

  1. An average kitten weighs 2-4 pounds
  2. An average sofa weighs 400-500 pounds

As you can see, an average sofa weighs 150 times more than a kitten. Knowing that kittens are very curious by nature, you should always locate them prior to folding or unfolding the furniture.

Tips 5 and 6 work great in combination. I hope, now you start understanding how important it is to do all the points from this list instead of just the bare minimum.

7. Keep the toilet lid closed

As very curious creatures, kittens will explore anything and the toilet is not an exception. Furthermore, a toilet is tempting for your kitten for one more reason: there is water inside and it can be perceived as another water bowl.

This may seem funny, but once your kitten falls into a toilet, it almost does not have any chances to escape. It will attempt to jump out, but the paws will become wet and it will slide down time after time until it does not have any energy to stay afloat. The worst scenario here is that the kitten will drown. But even if it does not drow, such an accident will cause tremendous stress and even psychological trauma.

Tip:

Certified cat behaviorist Glen Myrphy shared a very valuable tip on the point:

“Even if your cat is an adult, you should not leave it unsupervised near a toilet. He or she is likely to start drinking water from it which may contain a gel toilet cleaner, feces, or urine which are toxic/poisonous. As a result, this may lead to poisoning in your cat. ” {{{From an interview with a certified cat behaviorist Glen Myrphy on Aug 4, 2021}}}

8. Hide the wires

Cats are using their senses of smell{{{Stress, security, and scent: The influence of chemical signals on the social lives of domestic cats and implications for applied settings https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168159116303501}}}, vision and taste to explore the world. That’s why your kitten is highly likely to start to chew on anything that fits its mouth. So the probability of your kitten trying to chew on the wires is very high. In the best-case scenario, you will just have to replace it with a new one. But in the worst scenario, your kitten can be injured or electrocuted.

If you’re going to kitten-proof your house, hide those wires!

Use plastic cable covers on electrical cords and avoid having any dangling loose ends from lamps, TVs, stereos and telephones that she can chew. If the cord cannot be removed entirely then tape it down with duct tape.

I consulted with a certified electrical safety technician Kieran Bgherhy, CEST about this issue and he added a valuable tip:

“If you cannot completely hide the cord, the next best thing to do is tie-off loose ends with a zip tie or tape them down (duct tape works well). You can also cover cords and wires by wrapping electrical or duct tape around it. This will provide some protection against sharp teeth. And finally, you should add an extra layer of security by applying the cat repellent to those areas to help keep your new little friend away. {{{From Zoom interview with a certified electrical safety technician Kieran Bgherhy, CEST August 2, 2021}}}”

9. Hide the medicine

Your kitten may perceive your pills as toys and ingest them. While some medicine such as Benadryl, Zyrtec, and Claritin can be safe to your cat{{{Top 10 List of Over-the-Counter Human Meds That Can Be Used on Pets http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/my-top-10-list-of-over-the-counter-human-meds-that-can-be-used-on-pets}}}, other medications such as ibuprofen and other NSAIDs can be extremely poisonous{{{Ibuprofen Poisoning in Cats https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/ibuprofen-poisoning-in-cats}}}.

Also, it is very important to understand the amount of medication necessary to be effective.

You should make it a rule of thumb to hide any medicine that is not in use or planned for imminent use from your kitten’s reach.

Cats are very curious and have strong hunting instincts, so it is important to keep a close eye on your kitten if she has access to medications when you’re not home or in the room with her.

Important:

If you noticed that your kitten ingested medicine, you should immediately call ASPCA Animal Poison Control Centre: (888) 426-4435. They are available 24/7/365, so don’t hesitate to call. Please, note that consultation fees may apply under certain circumstances.

If you are not sure if your cat ingested medicine or has another emergency, please contact a veterinarian immediately (not the Poison Control Centre).

10. Change the cleaning supplies

There’s a huge amount of home cleaning supplies that can be very toxic to your cat. The most toxic home cleaning supplies to cats are:

Bleach

Bleach can be found in either concentrated form or as a household cleaner. Oxygen bleach, when combined with water, releases oxygen that leaves borax or ash without any harmful chemicals. It makes it safe for pets, people, and the Earth.

Laundry Detergent

Harmful chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate, NPE can be absorbed through skin contact. This may lead to skin allergies or other health concerns.

Carpet Cleaners

If you live with a dog or cat, removing stains and odors from carpets can be challenging. Chemical-based commercial cleaners are less effective than natural solutions, they’re more harmful to pets (and can remain in the carpet), and may not be as effective as a satisfactory solution due to their ineffective cleaning. Carpet cleaners often contain ammonia and other toxic chemicals, many of which your pet is frequently exposed to. Please, avoid using these at all costs!

A few safe, natural alternatives for carpet cleaning are baking soda, vinegar (diluted), lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar.

Tip:

When purchasing a home cleaner, pay attention to a “pet safe” label. You can also print out the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) list of cleaner brands to use on your carpets and upholstery that are pet-friendly, making it easy for you to shop around! Also, it’s a good idea to check if the products are approved by Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

11. Get rid of the essential oils

Essential oils may have a good scent but they are proven to be harmful{{{Toxicity of melaleuca oil and related essential oils applied topically on dogs and cats https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8197716/}}} to both cats and dogs! Cats are especially sensitive to salicylates, which are found in some types of essential oils.

Instead of masking the household odors with essential oils, try using baking soda or one of the best pet odor eliminators. Also, purchasing a good air purifier for pets will remove odors, dandruff, and allergen buildup from carpets, furniture, and air conditioning vents.

12. Hide and lock the trashcans

A common trashcan can be perceived by a kitten as a box full of toys with different colors, shapes, and scents. Your kitten may get into a trashcan and knock it over, spilling trash and leaving a mess.

Also, it can be injured by any sharp objects in the trash, which is especially true for kittens who are just learning how to walk.

And finally, it can ingest the leftovers or small particles, which can lead to a stomachache or worse.

To prevent this from happening, store the garbage in an area that your cat can’t get into or find out what’s causing him to go near the trashcan so you can create barriers between them.

13. Always close the dryer and a washing machine

While exploring the home, your kitten may want to have a snoop around the laundry room. While it might seem like no big deal, this may lead to lethal outcomes.

Many cats don’t like getting into these appliances because of the noise and scents of the cleaners. But it can be a real problem if you own a cat that likes to go inside these appliances.

If your cat likes to get into the dryer or washing machine, close them when not in use and plug it up if possible so you can prevent this from happening again.

Also please, always check your washing machine and dryer prior to use to ensure that your kitten is outside.

14. Keep all the sources of fire out of reach

Most of the cats will not approach the fire because they will be discouraged by the smell and the noise it produces.

But if that’s not the case, you should always make sure to keep them out of reach and place them in a high location so they don’t have access to it.

Not all sources of fire can be relocated that easily. To prevent your kitten from entering the fireplace, you should use a pet gate.

15. Lock the stairs with pet gates

If you live on the second floor with your kitten, you should not allow it to use the stairs.

  • An average height of the stair is 7.5 inches
  • An average height of a kitten is 3-5 inches.
  • An average height of an adult cat is 10 inches.

This means that you can start allowing your cat to use the staircase only when it is 10-12 months old. His or her height will be comparable with the height of stairs and enough to use the stairs.

Caution: Please, train your cat to use the stairs:

  • Show him what stairs are and where it leads,
  • Put a food on the next step,
  • When he climbs up – praise.

With the passing of time and after some practice, the cat will be able to use the stairs herself.

16. Hide all the unsafe holiday decorations

It is counterintuitive, but the holiday season has plenty of dangers for young cats:

Tinsel, artificial snow, and ornaments may pose risks to your cat if they are eaten. Certain plants decorated during this time of year can be hazardous to cats as well. Your cat will also want some of the food you’re eating or beverages that they do not tolerate very well.

Try to avoid excessive decorations in the room where your kitten is living and make sure that your kitten cannot reach anything on the table.

Replace the small plastic decorations with bigger alternatives made with natural materials such as wood or wool.

17. Hide your own food

Human food may seem safe for cats. However, there’s a number of human foods that are harmful to cats:

  • Alcohol
  • Onion
  • Chocolate
  • Garlic
  • Cheese and milk
  • Fat
  • Raw eggs,
  • Raw meat
  • Raw fish

These foods will cause an upset stomach in your cat and can result in death. To keep your kitten safe, you’ll need to store these things out of reach from the animal.

And even human foods that are not toxic for cats should not be digested by your kitten because they may not have the appropriate enzymes to break down those substances and such foods are not balanced for a healthy life of a cat.

By eating human food, the kitten will eat less of its own food and his diet will be less balanced.

So you should make it a habit to hide these foods in a fridge or any other place where the cat can’t reach it instead of leaving something on the table.

18. Hide the adult cat’s food

Adult cat food has fewer calories. If your kitten eats adult food instead of kitten food, this may lead to malnutrition and weight problems.

Adult cat’s food is also not balanced for the life of a kitten, so it needs more meat protein than an adult or senior cat does, but less fat in comparison to those cats. So hiding your adult cat’s food will help you make sure that both are getting enough nutrient-rich foods they need to stay healthy.

Solution 1:

You can use a feeding box to feed a kitten. This will prevent an older cat from stealing his food and provide a safe place for your kitten to eat.

Solution 2:

If you have a larger home, you can use separate rooms for feeding the kitten and adult cat so they don’t have to compete for space or be in close proximity when eating their meals.

Solution 3:

You can place the adult cat’s food on a higher place that is out of the kitten’s reach. A kitten won’t be able to jump high enough to reach the food.

19. Hide the dog food

Dog food is not suitable for both cats and kittens because it has a different balance of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. While cats may enjoy some dog food, it’s not as high in protein and fat which they need.

One thing that sets dog food apart from cat food is the mix of ingredients. Cats are obligate carnivores and need more protein, essential amino acids, fatty acids, and vitamins than dogs do. This makes dog foods a poor choice for cats to eat.

Suggested reading:

While in this article we are discussing exclusively how to kitten proof your house, you are welcome to check this useful guide on puppy-proofing your home as well.

20. Hide the wifi hotspot

The wifi hotspot is warm and may tempt your kitten to lay on it. However, wifi is dangerous because it emits radio frequency, which may lead to cancer in some cases{{{Radiofrequency (RF) Radiation https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/radiation-exposure/radiofrequency-radiation.html}}}.

Hide the wifi hotspot by putting it on a high shelf or behind furniture so your kitten can’t access it easily. This tip on kitten proofing your apartment will also help you have a better internet connection because it is recommended to put wifi routers higher for better signal quality.

21. Add stairs and ramps

If your kitten is sleeping with you, you should care about he or she will leave the bed. If you have a solid floor and he or she just jumps on it from the bed, it may cause injury to your kitten’s legs or joints.

  1. An average height of bed in US is about 25 inches.
  2. An average height of a kitten is 3-5 inches.
  3. An average weight of a kitten is 2 pounds.

If a kitten of mass m=1 kg jumps from height h = 0.635 m, then the velocity just before impact is v =  35.27 m/s.

The kinetic energy just before impact is equal to its gravitational potential energy at the height from which it was dropped:

K.E. = 1244.6 Joules

If in addition, we know that the distance traveled after impact is

d =0.05 m, then the impact force may be calculated using the work-energy principle to be

Average impact force = F = 124.4 Newtons

  • 124 Newtons is 0.029 × world record human bite force (for 2 seconds)
  • 0.02 to 0.06 × force of a punch exerted by a professional boxer (assuming an impact area of 4 square inches)

As you can see, this is a considerable force that can injure your kitten.

This is why I highly advise using the ramps and stairs for your kitten, to ensure they are safe. They will be using them instead of the furniture to get up and jump from your bed or the couch.

22. Put child-proof locks on the cabinet doors

Your kitten may want to explore and see what’s inside the cabinets. If you are kitten proofing your home, you are likely to store small, sharp and potentially hazardous objects there.

This can be harmful to your kitten, so you’ll want to install child-proof locks on cabinet doors if they’re accessible by your cat.

23. Make sure your hobbies won’t hurt your cat

Everyone has his own hobbies. And you should not choose between your hobbies and your pets. You can enjoy them both at the same time!

You just need to make sure that what you do with your cat won’t hurt him in any way:

  • If you play the guitar, make sure you store it in a case or a bag. Otherwise a kitten may bite the string and injure his mouth.
  • If you have a dartboard, make sure the darts are in a closed container or away from your cat’s reach. They can also hurt him if they fall on the floor and he decides to play with them.
  • If you are into home fitness, make sure to store the dumbbells on the floor to prevent them from falling on your kitten.
  • If you are into scrapbooking, make sure to store the scissors in a safe place as well.

These tips are especially relevant if you are kitten proofing an apartment with not too much free space to hide anything dangerous.

Kitten proofing checklist

I understand that it is hard to memorize all these points. This is why I created a free downloadable pdf checklist on how to cat-proof a room or home. All you have to do is download it here, print it, and then follow the steps.

Be ready to follow your kitten first two weeks

But kitten proofing a home is more than just a checklist.

While the tips above will cover most of the dangerous situations, it is important to be vigilant and know what your kitten likes to do. If you notice that he goes for something, make sure to put a “cat proof” cover over it or find another place or room in the house where you can keep the item out of his reach.

You should follow your kitten almost 24/7 during the first two weeks. This will help you to understand his temperament and what is dangerous for him.

Wrapping it up

This article should not discourage you to get a kitten. The tips are there to help you how to kitten proof your home without missing anything.

Don’t be scared! There is no such thing as a perfect kitten-proof house.

As long as you are attentive, you should have no problems with a new kitten safety at home. Kittens are really smart animals and will try their best not to do anything bad themselves if they know that it’s wrong.

If you disagree with any points or have any additional tips, please share them in the comments below.

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