Thursday, March 31, 2011

How to prepare your home for a new kitten

Eamon the kitten in his new home
Kittens are incredibly curious. They love to investigate anything that moves, including people, plants and other animals. When I brought Eamon home, nearly 10 years ago, I hadn't had a kitten for many years and I hadn't fully kitten-proofed my house. As a result, he got into much more trouble than he should have.

For example: Kittens love to investigate, pounce on and chew on plants. Not all plants the average homeowner grows are safe for kittens to eat. I had asparagus fern, Boston ivy and peace lily in my home when Eamon came to stay. All of these plants are toxic. I spent a lot of time fishing plants out of his mouth before I simply moved these plants into rooms where he wasn't allowed.

Kittens also often choose electrical cords for their teething projects. Eamon got a nasty shock while chewing on one of my lamps during his first week with me. While he wasn't seriously injured, he was frightened. (He never did chew on cords again, however.)

To prevent both of these problems, I now spray everything I see my cats investigating with Bitter Apple spray. This has a nasty taste that keeps cats away, and it is non-toxic.

Like most kittens, Eamon was a climber. He clambered onto the table for this photo, for example, and had to be helped back down. He climbed up the back of my chairs, clawed his way up my curtains and used my exercise machine as his special jungle gym.

As a result, he fell often.

He fell of the table and sneezed for an hour or so. He fell off the back of my rocking chair and crushed his paw underneath the rails. He fell down the stairs in a jumble of claws and fur.

While there isn't much you can do to prevent cats from climbing, if I had to do this again I would likely confine him to a completely cat-proofed room while I was away from home, so I could ensure he wouldn't hurt himself while I was away and unable to help.

Also, obviously, I would spend more time investigating how to cat-proof my home before I brought home a new kitten. For more information on how to do that, click here. And for a list of potentially toxic plants, click here.