Recently the Finney household rescued a very young kitten. What an exciting time it has been teaching my two young children how to care for an animal that requires so much from us to survive. Watching their big eyes widen as they helped their mommy bottle feed and care for this new fur baby is something I am grateful I have been able to share with my children. Partly, because there is a big part of me that hopes that one of them one day will follow in their mother’s footsteps, and partly, because it is so important to teach our children how to care for the lives of others, 2 legs or 4.
Up until now, the Finney household has been the home to several dogs, a few reptiles and some fish, but never a kitten. Mostly because my husband has severe allergies to cats. But when my 5 year old expressed to her Daddy that she wanted a kitten for her birthday, well, the rest is history as they say.
Jersey is approximately 8 weeks old now. We approximated his age to be about 7-10 days old when he was first rescued as his eyes were just barely open. He has come a long way in the last few weeks and is becoming a huge part of our family. His little personality is growing and we are starting to see a very sweet cuddly boy emerge. He doesn’t quite have full run of the house yet, but he will soon. And so we have have started to kitten-proof the house. At first, this seems like a simple task. But I soon realized, even as an expert in this field, that I too needed a little refresher on how to make sure my house is safe for a kitten/cat. Here are some ideas to help you (and us) make sure your house is a safe place for your fur baby.
1) Stings, rubber bands and shoelaces: With a little girl that loves doing her own hair and who has quite the plethora of accessories to do this, there is no lack of hair bands and hair ties in our house. Open any drawer and you will probably find several colors and options. On any given day you can walk into my children’s bathroom and find traces of pink toothpaste and strands of dental floss that didn’t make it to the trash. Before our kitten, this was just more of annoyance, but now, it is a serious concern. Strings or items such a hair bands that could be chewed into a string, present a huge problem for cats. Cats love to play with strings. But strings can easily become intestinal foreign bodies. Stings can easily get caught between a cats teeth and then swallowed. When this happens, the string becomes anchored in such a way that as the stomach and intestines try and move the string along the GI tract, the string actually can lacerate or cut the intestines. This is a very scary situation. Cats that have swallowed a sting or other type of foreign body usually vomit and will stop being interested in food or water. They usually become very lethargic as well. So, the first order to cat-proofing you house, make sure all strings and string-like objects are put away safely.
2) Cat toys: Just like with your 2 legged kids, toys can bring hours of entertainment for your fur kids as well. Cat toys come in all shapes and sizes. But it is important to make sure that the toys you pick will be safe. When picking out toys for your kitten or cat, try and stay away from toys that have small parts that could be easily ingested. And remember, that while you can spend as much money as you desire on store bought toys, many cats will simply enjoy boxes and paper packing material. Again, just like a toddler, sometimes the box the toy came in is just as fun as the toy it self!
3)Kid (People) food: Many already know the list of people foods to avoid giving your pets. This presents as a whole new problem when you have young children, especially if your children love grapes and raisins as mine do! Grapes or raisins are toxic to cats (and dogs!) and can cause renal failure. So if your summer time favorite snack are grapes like in our household, just make sure you’re careful not to let the fur kids have any. And if you have small children, pay close attention to the food that falls on the floor!
4) Plants: Plants can present a concern as well. While many plants are safe, there are some that are very toxic and even deadly to cats, for example, lilies. If you have house plants, make sure you know what they are and if they are harmful to your pets, or children for that matter. A quick jump on google and you will find extensive information to common house hold toxic plants that should be avoided when you have pets.
5)Hiding places: Many cats love to retreat away to some of the strangest places. If you live in AZ like we do, it is important to make sure that your kitty can’t find a cozy hiding place that results in them being locked or trapped in a warm place, for example, the garage. Take time to evaluate your home and look for places that could potentially become a hiding place and make sure that if it does, that it won’t result in being locked away.
While this is by no means an exhausted list of cat-proofing tips for your home, it is a place to start. Keep in mind that every feline and family is different and you may have to go an extra mile or two to keep your fur baby safe.