How to Prepare your Home for Indoor Cats

If you have indoor cats, it pays to remember that unfortunate expression, “curiosity killed the cat.” Cats are insatiably curious and just aren’t satisfied until they’ve truly experienced their environments with all their senses. A cat won’t just look at a bag, a cat must get into the bag. Electrical cords are irresistible, and so is dental floss. To protect your indoor cats from themselves, there are a few precautions you can take to cat-proof your home.

Prepare home for indoor catsCat Proofing is Like Child Proofing

Breakables
Since cats feel safer and more confident up high, it’s very likely your cat will climb and jump up onto your furniture. Make sure to clear away any breakables or precious items, especially when you first get your cat. Once your cat is comfortable and you’ve had a chance to train her and learn her habits, you can most likely then re-introduce these items into your decor.

Chemicals
Keep all cleaning and insecticide products away from your cat. In addition to cleaning products, these would include disinfectants, ant poison, and mothballs.

Cords
Cats love to chew electrical cords. To keep your cat away from this dangerous hazard, tape cords together, store out of reach, or purchase a cord protection system. Tie up or tuck away cords to blinds and curtains.

String/Rubber Bands/Small Items
Any type of string – be it yarn or dental floss – is dangerous as it can cause damage to your cat’s intestinal tract. Make sure garbage cans have lids or are stored inside closed cabinets. Put away any rubber bands, twist-ties, pieces of string, paper clips, Q-tips, and any other small items your cat might ingest. Also, carefully inspect toys for loose small parts, pieces of elastic or string that could pose a choking hazard. Since your cat is likely to hide under your bed for a few days, make sure that area is clean and free of hazards.

Plants
Indoor cats love to eat your greens! But many plants are toxic to cats and should be removed or made inaccessible to your cats. Examples include philodendron, devil’s ivy, poinsettia, lacy ferns, ivy, and cycads (often used in bonsai plants). For a complete list of plants toxic to cats (as well as those that are safe), visit the ASPCA web site. Note that you can purchase greens safe for your cat from nearly any pet store.

prepare home for indoor catsWindows & Balconies
Make sure your windows have screens that are securely fastened. A fall from a window or balcony can be fatal to your cat.

Human Food
Never feed your cat chocolate, which is highly toxic to cats. Also, cats should not eat avocado, garlic, onion, grapes, raisins, apple seeds or almonds. Most veterinarians caution against feeding your cat milk, since many cats are lactose intolerant. Tuna must be limited or it can turn your cat into a “tuna junkie,” which could in turn give your cat yellow fat disease.

Furniture
To discourage scratching of your sofa, two-sided tape or sprays work well. Never yell at your cat for scratching, that will only confuse her. Instead, redirect her to her scratching post and praise her for using it.

Establish an Introductory “Safe Room”
To allow your cat to acclimate to her new surroundings, keep her safe, and permit training of appropriate behaviors, most experts recommend establishing a safe room in your house for your new cat. This is especially important if you have other pets, kids, or an otherwise active household. The room should contain food and water dishes, a bed or sleeping area, toys, a scratching post, and a litter box, kept as far away from the food as possible.

Provide High Places to Build Confidence and Trust
If you don’t have an extra room to temporarily hand over to your cat, the next best thing is to make sure your cat can get to high places. Like a panther perched up on a high boulder or in a tree, an indoor cat feels more confident and safe when he’s up high. When your cat can relax and feel confident as he adapts to his environment, it will be easier for him to trust you and his new environment. Entertainment centers, tall dressers or any other high furniture in your house work well for this, as do tall scratching posts with perches. If you can position these so that your cat can travel the perimeter of a room without touching the floor, even better.

Litter Box Location
Carefully choose the litter box location. You’ll want to place it in a private area easily accessible to your cat where he will not be disturbed or surprised while doing his business. His path to the box should be free of obstacles – like the big family dog – and the box should be placed far away from fans, vents, or other intermittent noise makers in your household. The box should also be kept far away from the cat’s eating area. For more information about litter boxes, please see our article, “The Best Cat Litter and Litter Boxes.”

By following these simple guidelines, you will make a home that is safe and nurturing for your indoor cats!

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