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How to cat proof your house: A room-by-room guide

By Greta Inglis Dog Behaviourist | Animal Behaviourist

Updated on the

Our feline friends can find it hard to distinguish hazardous material at home from fun and games. Here we look at how to cat proof your house, room-by-room.

We’ve all heard the saying “curiosity killed the cat”, and it’s certainly true that where cats can explore, climb or get into something, they’ll always give it their best go. On the one hand, this inquisitive nature is what makes them so loveable, but it doesn’t come without its risks.

Kittens and adult cats all have a need to sharpen their claws, stretch and actively inhabit their territory, however it can be difficult for them to distinguish between harmful items and fun activities. Danger may lie in the most unexpected of places, so it’s important to prepare your home before welcoming a new furry friend into the family.

What does cat-proof mean?

We’ve all heard of parents child proofing before welcoming a new baby into the world, but what is cat proofing, you may wonder. Cat proofing your house, is the process of removing all potential hazard and risk from the environment, making it a safe space for your feline friend.

If you’re thinking this sounds like a good idea, but don’t know how to go about making your house cat proof, read on. Here we take a look at the key considerations to be aware of room-by-room, exploring the hazards and risks the environment may present.

How do I cat proof the living room?

When it comes to cat proofing your house, it’s important to think of all possible danger and what actions can be taken to minimise this. Scan each room for possible items of interest to your cat. Try these tips to cat proof:

Tip #1: Keep candles up high and fireplaces protected 

A naked flame can be intriguing to your cat, who may approach because of the quick movement and warmth. This can be dangerous, so be sure if you do use candles, that they’re kept high up and out of reach of their adorable paws. Lights that emulate the effect of a candle may be a good idea.

Just as candles should be kept up high, if you have a fireplace at home, it will require a protective screen. This will let your cat approach for warmth, without any risk of burns.

Tip #2: Make sure electrical wires are tucked away 

Some of the biggest hazards for a cat at home, are undoubtedly, electrical wires. Cats love to play, scratch and chew at these, which could lead to a nasty shock. Keep all wires neatly tucked away and stored out of sight when not in use.

Tip #3: Tie or cut cords on window blinds and curtains 

There’s nothing quite as appealing to a cat, as a dangling piece of string. The movement of the material can tap into their hunting instinct, and the tie could then become tangled around your cat. If you need to keep cords to be able to use window blinds, cut the end of the loop so the cord hangs straight down. A hook on the wall can help keep it out of reach, making sure your curtains and blinds remain functional, and keeping your cat safe.

Tip #4: Make sure your houseplants aren’t harmful to cats 

Whilst creating an inside jungle may seem like a great idea, certain plants and flowers are poisonous for cats. Lilies have been known to cause kidney failure and Amaryllis, Chrysanthemum and Cyclamen contain toxic properties.

Cats love to chew plants, but dangerous plants can cause vomiting, lethargy, and in severe cases, even death. Be sure to do your research before you start testing out those green fingers!

How can I cat proof the kitchen?

Depending on the layout of your house, the kitchen may be frequently visited by your feline friend. If their food and bed are in this area, they may spend a lot of time here, which makes cat proofing all the more important.

Tip #1: Keep kitchen cupboards closed

Cleaning chemicals can be dangerous for cats, as they may ingest them accidentally. Make sure all chemicals are shut away straight after use or stored in an area your cat doesn’t have access to. Child proof locks can be very useful, as some furry masterminds will work out how to open doors when you’re not expecting it.

Tip #2: Make sure rubbish and recycling is kept in a cat proof area 

Whether in a pedal bin or locked in a cupboard, recycling and rubbish should be kept out of reach. Packaging and smells may appeal to your cat, but that doesn’t mean the contents are safe for them to eat.

Tip #3: Keep the hob covered 

Any cat owner will have witnessed the jumping abilities of their cat. It’s impressive, but can be dangerous if the surface isn’t suitable for them to land on. Make sure the hob or stove top is covered when not in use, as an unexpected landing could lead to burnt paws.

How can I cat proof the bedrooms and study?  

You’ll sleep more peacefully in the knowledge your bedroom has been cat proofed, with unexpected items such as mothballs even posing a hazard to your pet (they’re toxic for cats).

Tip #1: Ensure the nightstand is clear 

When it comes to cat proofing, prevention is everything. Make sure your nightstand is clear of medications, lamp wires and phone chargers. If you have the option to hook wires in a way that doesn’t leave them exposed to your cat, this could prevent risk during kitty adventures around your bedroom.

Tip #2: Tidy your desk at the end of the day 

The principle doesn’t only apply to nightstands, but to your desk area as well. If you work from home and have a study, ensure the desk is clear when the day comes to an end. Shut staplers, scissors, laptop wires and headphones away securely.

Tip #3: Check essential oils are safe before use

Diffusers are relaxing to humans, but unfortunately certain oils are toxic to our four-legged friends. Oil of cinnamon, Ylang Ylang and Tea Tree can all be toxic, whether your cat ingests or is simply exposed to the product. Check the oil you choose is safe before use.

How can I cat proof the bathroom?

Tip #1: Keep surfaces clear 

Lock away any medications or supplements, as these can be dangerous for your cat. Toothpaste lids should be closed for the same reason, and if you use a needle and thread, be sure to put this back in its box. Ingested thread or dental floss can damage the tongue or cut the intestines if processed in your cat’s system. A digestive obstruction can be painful and difficult to treat.

Tip #2: Keep the toilet seat closed 

Cats seem to have a fascination with bathrooms and water. Keep the toilet seat shut whenever it’s not in use, to prevent any accidents if your kitten or cat falls in.

Do you find your cat follows you when you go to the bathroom? Click here to find out why.

How can I cat proof the laundry room and garage?

Tip #1: Keep all chemicals out of reach

Chemicals typically stored in the garage, such as motor oils and products, can be very dangerous for your cat. Antifreeze is extremely toxic, and if swallowed can be fatal, so make sure this is locked in a cabinet at all times. Ice melting products can also burn the paws of your cat, so these should be kept out of reach and safely shut away after use.

Tip #2: Washing machine and dryer safety

It is sadly all too common to hear of a cat climbing into a washer or dryer without their owner realising. Cats are drawn to small, dark places, and particularly so if they’re warm. Even the shortest amount of time in a machine can prove fatal, and at the very least may cause heat stroke, burns or head trauma. Be sure to always close the door once clothes have been taken out. If many people share the space, a sign on the door can go a long way.

How can I cat proof the garden?

If you share your life with an outside cat who likes the fresh air, you may have wondered how to cat proof the garden. Cats commonly roam to hunt and prey on birds, and even peaceful garden creatures such as hedgehogs can be dangerous to your cat. If you’re looking for a weatherproof and safe outdoor option, it may be time to consider a “catio”.

A cat-patio, or “catio”, offers the opportunity for healthy exercise, with the added extra of waterproof comfort. This offers your cat safety from outdoor hazards such as predators and cars.

How do I cat proof my apartment?

If you’re wondering how to cat proof your apartment, you’ll need to evaluate the risk of each room as you would with a house. There’s really no difference to the practice of cat proofing, though there are some additional considerations to apartment living.

With higher windows and smaller spaces, there are additional hazards to consider if you share your apartment with a feline friend.

Take a look here at our top cat breeds for indoor living.

How can I cat proof the living spaces in an apartment?

Cat proofing an apartment should be carried out room-by-room, as we detailed above and in much the same was as it would with a house.

When space is tighter, items may be stored on taller shelves and higher bookcases. Bear in mind that your cat will find all of this very exciting, with lots of ornaments and objects to investigate. A cabinet is a good idea for breakables, and if you have items of value in a small space, a wall cabinet may be the way to go.

How should I cat proof the windows of an apartment?

Cat proofing the windows of your apartment is extremely important, particularly if you live above a ground floor level. Screens and protective mesh can be fitted easily and cost effectively, making sure your cat can’t leap out in search of adventure and cause themselves harm. Make sure all windows are closed and locked if leaving your cat home alone.

How should I cat proof the balcony of an apartment? Create cat proof ledges or consider using a "catio"

The ledges of a balcony can be enticing to your cat, who may want to see the world below. Make sure you put up cat proof ledges before letting your kitty onto the balcony or consider a netting barrier between them and the edge. A cat patio can also work well on a balcony, offering the option of time outside without any of the risk.

8 tips to cat proof your balcony and keep your cat safe

When it comes to cat proofing, advance preparation is key, just as much as foreseeing the unexpected. Cats are curious like no other pet we share our homes with, and making sure they’re safe at home and when outside is important for their wellbeing. Once you’ve cat proofed the house, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy their antics for hours on end, reassured by the knowledge they’re safe to play around and explore their home.

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