Cats are agile and curious, skills which can get them into trouble. Heads trapped in narrow spaces, ornaments and shelves knocked from walls, toxic houseplants to nibble on, and so on - for the unwary owner, there are lots of potential hazards. Taking simple measures to make your home as safe as possible for a cat is the starting point of cat ownership.
A safe environment is a happy environment
Cat Hazards in the Home
Folklore tells us that cats always land on their feet. They can also walk away unharmed after jumping or falling from a height. However, these are the lucky ones. Many cats die from falls, and if you live in an apartment block several floors up, you need to install window guards. The same applies if you want to stop your cat from running onto busy roads in towns and cities. You can always keep a window open in a room that is not accessible to the cat.
A closed window prevents crafty escapes in the early days of cat ownership
Cats explore every corner, so don’t leave tumble dryer, oven, etc, doors open
Close the lid on the toilet – an inquisitive young cat could drown in there
Use a fireguard if you have an open fire
Things that can be toxic to cats include:
- Pot pourri
- Toilet cleaners
Cats are intelligent and inquisitive animals. Many will learn how to open your cupboards very quickly. We recommend taking necessary steps to secure any cupboards you don’t wish your new kitty to get into. Just a simple lock or catch will be enough to deter even the most curious of cats.
A kitten chewing on a cable - this isn't going to end well!
Wires and cables
Don’t leave electric cables in a spaghetti-like tangle: your cat will want to investigate with tooth and claw… Cats, and particularly young kittens can develop a habit of chewing anything that feels nice in their mouth and unfortunately this can include potentially fatal electrical cables. A simple safety precaution that will save both your cat and your electricals from damage is to use cable protectors that are either physically strong enough to withstand chewing or are coated in a taste that is unpleasant to cats.
Never leave a hob on unattended and always check a tumble drier or washing machine before turning it on. A machine filled with nice soft clothes will seem like the perfect den for a cat but it could have fatal consequences!
To a cat, a washing machine is great hiding place
Anything left on tables or shelves will inevitably be knocked over and smashed, so take the necessary precautions to protect anything you are not willing to risk.
Tin tacks, needles and pins are potential hazards
Loose-weave material can easily snag cat claws
The list of toxic houseplants is long, and as a rule of thumb you should google “Is xxx toxic for cats?”, for any house plant before buying it. This list covers many of the commoner toxic house plants:
- Aloe Vera
- Arum Lily
- Asian Lily
- Asparagus Fern
- Baby's Breath
- Barbados Lily
- Bird of Paradise Flower
- Branching Ivy
- Cardboard Palm
- Ceriman. (Swiss Cheese Plant)
- Charming Dieffenbachia
- Chinese Jade
- Clivia Lily
- Corn Plant
- Daffodil (Narcissus)
- Desert Azalea
- Devils Ivy
- Easter Lily
- Everlasting Pea (Sweet Pea)
- Fig (Indian Rubber Plant)
- Flamingo Flower
- Florida Beauty
- Garden Hyacinth
- Giant Dracaena
- Indian Hemp (Marijuana)
- Jade Plant
- Lacy Tree Philodendron
- Lily – all types!
- Lily of the Valley
- OrangeOrange Day Lily
- Pencil Cactus (Crown of Thorns)
- Spring Parsley
- Stargazer Lily
- Sweetheart Ivy (English or Californian Ivy)
- Tiger Lily
- Tomato Plant
- Trumpet Lily
- Water Hyacinth
- Wood Lily
House plants - make sure they're not toxic ones
Put lids on water butts and mesh over water features (this will protect any fish or wildlife in your pond too).
Bins should be kept closed, and checked whenever a cat is missing. She might have been trapped inside.
As for bins, the same goes for sheds and other outbuildings too. Cats are very good at hiding and keeping quiet, and can easily become locked inside. Cat flaps are a good idea – this will also enable the cat to seek shelter if she’s outside on a cold day.
Cats and Fireworks, and Other Loud Noises
There can’t be many cats walking the Earth today that can calmly ignore noisy fireworks. Some get very distressed indeed, and some owners even resort to administering tranquilizers before New Year, the 4th of July and other times when fireworks are lighting up the sky.
Keep cats indoors during the big bang, with windows closed to minimize noise and to prevent your pet fleeing in panic. Closed curtains will shut out the fiery flashes too.
The dislike of loud noise extends to other sources too, from loud music and parties to noisy engines and overhead aircraft. Make sure your cat has a feline ‘safe room’ – somewhere to run and hide until it all calms down again.