When bringing home a new cat, we tend to focus on all the wonderful cuddle time and play time we will have with him or her. What we don’t often think about is that we need to make sure our house is actually safe for the cat! When it comes to cat safety, some things are obvious, an some things are bewildering and eye-opening. Nonetheless, in order to keep your cat safe in your home, you need to make sure your house is ready.
cat safety check #1: Poisonous Plants
Especially during the first few weeks, your cat will be exploring every surface and every single thing in your house. Cats are curious, and they like to chew on grass. They will try a taste of your plants for certain. You need to make sure they are safe for them.
The most common poisonous house plants for cats are:
- Aloe Vera
- Chinese Jade
- Fig Trees
- Flamingo Flower
- Florida Beauty
- English Ivy
We had to donate some of our beautiful plants to relatives. We kept only Christmas Cactus, Prayer Plant (Maranta), and an orchid. Even then, our cat would gnaw on the leaves and leave bite marks. It didn’t hurt the pant, but it certainly made it look unattractive.
To deter our cat from chewing the few house plants that we had left, we planted cat grass instead. This seemed to work, though be prepared for a little mess. Our cat was so enthused with grass grown just for her that sometimes she pulled it out by the roots! A bigger saucer for the planter to catch the soil should do the trick and keep the area clean.
SAFE PLANTS FOR CATS
If you have your heart set on having some greenery in your house, check out ASPCA website for the list of non-toxic plants for cats.
Here are some of the most common safe house plants to consider:
- African Violet
- Many types of fern (please check specific types)
- Christmas Cactus
- Earth Star
- Nerve Plant
- Paradise Palm
- Phalaenopsis Orchid
- Prayer Plant
- Reed Palm
- Many types of succulents (please check specific kinds)
- Spider Plant
- Venus Fly Trap
cat safety check #2: Herbs
I should also mention that not all herbs are safe for cats. So if you do have an herb garden in your kitchen already, please check if your herbs are safe for cats.
According to ASPCA website, among the safe ones are:
Basil, Cilantro (Coriander), Dill, Rosemary, Sage, Stevia, and Thyme.
Cat Safety Check #3: Fresh Flowers
Now let’s talk about fresh cut bouquets. Some flowers are extremely toxic to cats. For example, Eucalyptus, Mums, Tulips, Carnations are considered very bad for cats. Some may only result in diarrhea and indigestion, but others can be deadly. If you’re not sure, check out the ASPCA website on your phone while out shopping for flowers just to make sure.
You can still enjoy fresh flowers at home. You just need to be mindful which ones to get. Some of the safe fresh cut flowers to have in bouquets at home are: Roses, Sunflowers, Gerber Daises, and Zinnias.
If you like picking wildflowers when on a hike, ASPCA website lists a whole bunch of beautiful flowers that you can safely bring home. Avoid certain daises though!! They are very common and oh so pretty, but they can be very bad for your furry friend at home.
My favorite wildflowers to pick are: Cornflower, Alsike Clover, Canterbury Bells, Silver Bells, Snapdragons, Jasmine, Coreopsis, Hollyhocks, Tickseeds.
Cat Safety Check #4: Poisonous Foods
If you cat climbs the counters, never leave any food out. They WILL get into it. If you need to get cabinet locks for your extra curious cat, just do it. Better safe than sorry.
A list of the most dangerous foods includes:
- Chocolate (dark is worse than milk or white)
- Grapes or Raisins
- Xylitol (a sweetener used in gum and other “sugar-free” products)
- Onions, Garlic, Chives (even in powder form)
- Dairy (cats are lactose intolerant),
- Raw meat and Raw eggs
- Alcohol or Yeast Dough
- Caffeine in coffee, tea, or soda
Cat Safety Check #5: Essential Oils
Essential oils have become common in many households in recent years. But because it’s still a novelty, people don’t always think of the dangers essential oils can bring to the pets. Cats are typically OK with the scent of the essential oils. So you should be good with just diffusing oils in your home. But if you leave the oils out, and they are not properly closed, your cat may get into them and lick or ingest your oils.
This does not mean that since you have a cat, you will never be able to use your essential oils. You just have to be extra cautious and think twice which oils to diffuse in the rooms that your cat hangs out the most. If you apply the oils topically, do it in a closed room, throw away all the applicators properly, and do a thorough cleanup of the surfaces you used afterwards.
The most toxic essential oils for cats are:
Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Citrus Oils (Lemon, Lime, Orange, Grapefruit), Peppermint, Lavender.
If you would like to learn more, check out this post from MeowLifestyle.com.
I found it extremely helpful and comforting at the same time.
Rule of thumb–Keep the oils far out of reach of cats.
Cat Safety Check #6: Cleaning Supplies
Cats will be exploring your house for a while after they settle in. Even if you think your cat is now comfortable with everything around, don’t go too easy on cat safety precautions. It’s especially true with your cleaning supplies. They contain harmful chemicals and can be deadly to cats if they ingest, chew, or lick them.
If you leave your cleaning supplies cabinet open even for a split second, your curious companion will be right there sniffing and rubbing away when you turn around. When cleaning the house, it’s best to keep bottles and sprays way out of reach of your cat. Preferably, you would even want to lock him in a comfy room that you are not cleaning that day, so that your cat can wait until all the surfaces dry and won’t be harmful for him. If you kitty constantly insists on checking out the cleaning supplies closet or cabinet, you need to put a child-proof lock on it. ASAP!
Cat Safety Check #7: Medicine
Much like with cleaning supplies, you need to keep your medicine way out of reach of your cat. If you accidentally dropped pills on the floor, make sure to find them all and pick them up. Your cat will find it exciting to toss it around the floor and may lick it or even swallow it. It’s best to keep both human and cat medicine locked up in a cabinet. Or better yet, lock it up in a medicine safe.
Cat Safety Check #8: Blinds
You may not think about it right away, but the dangling strings of your window treatments are major attraction to a curious cat! It may seem harmless at first, even funny, to see your cat playing and trying to catch the end of the cord. However, the cat can get tangled or even strangled in the cords. Not to mention, if your blinds are not secured properly or have become loose from constant playing, they may just fall right on top of your cat and seriously injure it. It’s best to hide the cords to the side of your blinds or tie them to a knot.
Cat Safety Check #9: String, Yarn, Ribbon
Each cat is different. Some cats will play with string, and some will chew it. The cat may swallow the whole thing and then make itself throw it up when it doesn’t’ sit well in his tummy. Even though strings and yarn make fun toys for your cat, it is not safe to leave them on the floor unattended. Make sure to pick up the toys after playtime to avoid an upset tummy and a whole lot of stinky mess to clean up.
Cat Safety Check #10: Trash
You may not think of this at first, but if your kitty is a curious one, she will try to at least sniff the stuff in your trash. Even if you are sure you didn’t let your cat anywhere near the cooking area, if you threw any of the scraps in the trash, chances are your cat will get into them. Thoroughly clean the surface area after cooking and a meal. Also, if need be, invest into a trash can with a secure lid.
With cats, don’t assume anything! That’s the thing we have learned with our own cat after having had her for about a year. Yes, she has thankfully calmed down a lot in her exploring adventures! But we are now a little wiser not to get too relaxed about cat safety house rules.
If you are curious to learn what to expect when you bring your new kitty home, check out my recent post “The First Days with Your New Cat”.