Looking after a pet for the first time can be daunting – it’s a lot of responsibility as you need to be able to take care of your pet’s physical and mental well-being.
This article looks at some of the ways you can cat-proof your home, so if you’re thinking about getting a cat for the first time, this is a good starting point.
Kittens and cats like to chew and claw at things
That’s basically the main thing they do, so you need to prepare your home for a tiny, infant-like claw machine. You’ll need to harshly audit even the cleanliest of homes and ensure there are no dangers lurking for your new house guest.
So, to begin with you’ll need to remove anything that your cat might be inclined to chew and swallow (and also ensure that your cat can’t get access to small items like these at any time):
- Rubber bands or hair bands
- Dice or board game parts
- Small toys
- String, laces or ribbons
Yes, owning a cat is like caring for a small child – best to assume that they will put anything and everything in their mouths!
And it’s not just the small things you need to be careful of. Larger objects (such as home appliances) that have cables are also a danger. Your can could chew on the cable and knock the device over (potentially hurting your cat). You can go some way to preventing this by securing cables and wires with tape or cable ties so they are less enticing for your cat.
All that fancy upholstery is a thing of the past
Whether on your sofa or your curtains, any piece of fabric that has fancy decorations such as tassels, ribbons or anything that dangles will be a target for your cat. Those pretty things will be tempting for your cat…and probably won’t last too long!
Many cat owners resign themselves to the fact that their furnishings may adopt a “scratchy scratchy” look over time and this certainly is one of the realities of being a cat owner. However, it’s worth removing any obvious temptation away from a new cat. It’s important to encourage positive behaviour from the outset, so if your cat is scratching your sofa or curtains, it will be more difficult to get them to use a scratching post or cat tree.
More importantly, you don’t want your cat clinging on to things (like curtains, blinds or tablecloths), that may fall and hurt or frighten them.
Your cat knows more secret hiding spots in your home than you do
A friend once told me she moved to a new flat with her cat, who disappeared within a hour of being there. After several hours of frantic searching, the cat was found behind a fake wall next to the wardrobe.
Cats will find their way into tight spaces, so you need to do your best to limit their access to places they shouldn’t be. Whether that’s a drywall or a toilet, ensure things are closed / shut / sealed / blocked off / guarded by a mighty dragon.
You can help by providing a safe space for your cat to relax in – a part of a room, a play tunnel, their own bed (or any old box would do!). There are lots of ways to make your cat feel at home and these encourage your cat’s natural behaviour. What you don’t want is them going missing for hours on end – you’ll worry, and there’s the potential they’ll get stuck somewhere.
Many houseplants are toxic to cats
While cats love catnip, many houseplants can be toxic to cats – and they will chew on them regardless, so you need to be especially careful. Before you get your new cat, make a list of your houseplants and check to see if they’re safe to have around a cat.
Check your washing machine / tumble drier
This may seem pretty obvious (and a horrendous thought), but cats love small spaces that are warm, so they can often climb into your washing machine or drier when you’re not using it. Obviously this isn’t behaviour you want to encourage, so make sure you close the doors when you’re not using the machines.
Cats are agile, but can’t fly
If you live high up, be wary of open windows and balconies. All cats are curious, so they will inevitably wander out and all it takes is a misplaced step or a slippery surface for an accident to happen. There are many pet gates available to prevent animals going through windows or doors they shouldn’t, so look into those if you think it will be an issue.
As with children, distraction is key
Cats will scratch and bite – that’s just what they do. But there are ways to focus their energy in the right way (and hopefully protect your furniture and hands!).
Get a scratching post for your cat early on. The sisal material is strong enough to withstand your cat’s best attempts to claw it and most cats love them. You can use catnip to encourage your cat to use it if they’re not too keen at first.
Rubbish bins are tempting, keep them secure
Even old, rotten food is oddly enticing for your cat. Like dogs, they will eat many things, even if it isn’t very good for them.
Pay particular attention to food that might harm your cat if they get to it. For example the remains of a roast chicken is very tempting for a cat, but the bones could splinter if chewed or even cause your cat to choke. Keep your bin secure so they can’t get to it. And double check, because cats are surprisingly canny animals. “Cat burglars” isn’t an unfair name!
Enjoy the experience!
While it is important to take precautions, owning a cat is a hugely rewarding experience so you should enjoy every part of it. The small changes you might need to make in your lifestyle soon become trivial in comparison.
The important thing is to establish a routine for early on. Moving can be a stressful experience for a cat, so it’s important to do what you can to help them make the transition.
Most of all, enjoy the experience and hopefully you will bond with your new cat in no time!
Also, check out our cat toy reviews: