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HOW SHOULD I PREPARE MY HOUSE FOR THIS NEW FAMILY MEMBER?

Your kitten will most likely view everything in the house as a potential toy. She’ll also have a strong desire to go vertical, so your curtains and bookshelves are potential jungle gyms. Kittens often get themselves into trouble by squeezing into the unlikeliest places, so take the time to go room by room to kitten-proof. There are things in almost every room that you wouldn’t think could be harmful but can be, so it’s important to look at each room from a kitten’s point of view. For example, if you have a recliner, it can be easy for the kitten to hide in there and get injured when you adjust the chair.

Washers and dryers may seem out of reach, but little leapers can easily find their way into them on their own. A kitten may also hide in a pile of dirty laundry that you might unknowingly scoop up and toss into the washer. Always put each piece of laundry into the washer separately. Check the washer and dryer before you turn them on and then again after you empty the laundry before you close the doors. Here is a starter list for typical kitten-proofing:

  • Secure window screens.
  • Keep all medicine put away in a closed cabinet or drawer.
  • Don’t leave out string, ribbon, rubber bands, or other things that can be swallowed.
  • Keep household cleansers put away in cabinets.
  • Use trash cans with lids or secure them in cabinets.
  • Cut handles off paper bags before offering bags as toys.
  • Don’t let your kitten play with plastic bags.
  • Secure electrical cords so they don’t dangle.
  • Use museum or earthquake wax to secure breakable objects that can’t be put away.
  • Check the washer and dryer before doing laundry.
  • Put laundry in the washer piece by piece, because your kitten may be sleeping in the laundry pile.
  • Always double-check for hiding kittens when closing closets and drawers.
  • Tie blind and shade pulls out of reach so they aren’t dangling.
  • Keep all indoor plants out of kitten’s reach (most are poisonous to cats).
  • Close all sewing and knitting baskets after use and double-check for any pins on the carpet.
  • Don’t leave candles burning unattended where a kitten could reach them.
  • Make sure the fireplace has a secure screen.
  • Always keep the fireplace screen in place, because a kitten may be tempted to play in ashes.
  • Don’t throw a box out without first checking if the kitten is hiding in it.
  • Do a kitten check before leaving the house in case she’s locked in a closet or drawer.
  • Block the space behind the refrigerator so the kitten can’t get wedged in there.
  • Don’t use mothballs in your drawers or closets because they’re toxic to cats.
  • Check before closing the recliner footrest, because your kitten may be hiding under it.
  • Get in the habit of keeping the toilet lid closed.

This list is just a small sample of the types of kitten-proofing that may need to be done. You’ll have to customize it based on your specific household. Kitten-proofing may seem like lots of work, but your kitten will mature and outgrow many of the dangerous behaviors that it is meant to prevent. If you have children, you know that baby-proofing and toddler-proofing your home are needed but don’t last forever. And speaking of baby-proofing, you can find many items to help you kitten-proof in the baby-safety section of department stores and baby-product stores. Electrical cord covers, outlet covers, cabinet locks, toilet paper roll covers, etc. are also very useful when trying to protect a curious little kitten.

A Sharp Little Fact: Kittens are unable to sheath their claws until a little after four weeks of age.

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