We all know to keep dangerous objects away from children, but it’s important to remember that we should also do the same for our animals. Because they are smaller, more mobile and have more sensitive noses, they are likely to investigate and get into things that can be dangerous. Here’s what to watch out for when cat-proofing your home.
Household Danger #1: Curtains, Blinds, and Electrical Cords
For almost any cat, the dangling end of a curtain or blind cord is an open invitation to play. Even just prowling behind the curtains or blinds can land your cat in a tangle. Cats who get caught in the loops of pull-cords, panic. In a best-case scenario, the blinds or curtain rod comes down with a crash. However, in worse cases, a cat can strangle itself, sustain fatal internal damage, or get so worked up that its heart gives out. For safety, tie or wrap all window cords and keep them well out of your cat’s reach (remember, cats can jump really high!). Electrical cords pose the same threat, but also can quickly become dangerous if your cat starts chewing on it. Wherever possible, run the cords under rugs and carpets, or behind furniture that sits flushto the floor and wall. Otherwise, buy some inexpensive plastic conduit (available at most hardware stores) to protect the electrical cords. Treating the cords with a bad-tasting substance like bitter apple might help too.
Household Danger #2: Poisonous Plants
A cat chewing on your houseplants is more than an annoyance. It can be dangerous, or even fatal to your cat.While all cats will eat grass or plants to purge themselves, some plants may cause reactions ranging from mild nausea to death. Some common plants that are poisonous include aloe vera, any type of lilies, some types of ferns, calladium, and ivy. Cats that go outdoors, run the added risk of consuming something that could be toxic to them. You can protect your cat by only growing plants that are non-toxic to cats, and by monitoring your cat's behaviour around your household plants. Keep in mind that once your cat leaves your property, it's hard to control what it comes into contact with.For a list of potentially poisonous plants, refer to http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/cats-plant-list. We recommend that you print it and keep it in an accessible place.
Household Danger #3: Windows & Balconies
Every window that you open needs to have a cat-proof screen that fits the window frame securely enough to stay firmly in place when confronted by your cat. Ordinary screens can be easily torn by claws or teeth. Even a fall from a second- or third-story window could cause serious injury or death. Some owners let their cats out on the balcony, assuming that it's a safe way for them to get some fresh air and sunshine.
Cats derive great pleasure from stalking moths, birds, or other creatures. An ill-timed pounce or missed step could send them over the railing. Cats do not have nine lives (as much as we wish they did). The SPCA attended to one to two cases per week, of cats falling from heights. While some cats survive, others sustain injury and require long-term treatment, or die a painful death. These falls can be prevented if we make the extra effort to keep our pets safe at home. For more information on different options available for meshing your home, go to http://www.catwelfare.org/meshing.
The above are just three of the many potential dangers that cat owners must be aware of. Other examples include putting away cleaning supplies and other household chemicals in cabinets so that your cat can't access them, as well as keeping poisonous foods such as alcohol, grapes, chocolates (and the list goes on), out of reach.
The SPCA advises you to follow the above guidelines for the well-being and safety of your pet cat. And remember, a happy (and healthy) cat is one that stays at home!