It is entertaining to watch kittens explore their environments. They have the ability to find holes and corners owners didn’t know existed. They can find wires, chew cords and undo those bread ties used to keep cords wrapped together in what seems in a matter of moments. As the kitten grows older, this curiosity doesn’t go away. It may seem to mature but this characteristic is always there. Bringing in new items, changing the room around, washing bed sheets are all invitations for your cat to satisfy their curiosity. It provides just as much entertainment to see the cats explore.
Feline proofing a house is simple but also challenging. Some simple proofing can include removing live plants. Plants seem to be an attractive magnet for cats. Even if they are placed high up, cats will not let this curiosity go and will find a way to get to. When it comes to artificial plants, lookout that it is not used as a litter box for one, the other it doesn’t attract them to chew on the leaves. In our household, I have three small vases of artificial plants. They are located high, on a single shelf and have not been a problem.
Another simple proofing is putting up or hideaway cords. Bundling cords together around an entertainment system or computer system is an organizational nightmare at times, however it does make a room look cleaner, but also keeps those curious cats from making a nest out of them. In our household, I use double-sided velcro to keep cords and wires together. The velcro seems not to be as attractive to my cats as bread ties.
Another area of proofing includes the smallest of places that kittens and some cats love to get to and that is under the couch, end tables and lazy boy chairs. In our household we put a 2×4 board around our sofa, not only did this prevent any further cats going under the couch but also raised the couch up (getting up from the couch is so much easier now). A similar solution was performed on our end tables, except we put small wheels on them so when I clean I can easily move them around. As for the lazy boy chairs, this was a challenge. It mainly was slapping the chair before sitting down, but also we had to block the opening between the fabric and the chair itself with pillows. Wolverine was the main culprit of this. She would hide between the fabric and the chair. We found small pliable pillows at a Goodwill and used these to block those entrances on all five lazy boy chairs and sofas. Even after two years we can’t remove them, because she still will crawl behind them.
Some bigger challenges to proofing can include: if there is clutter in the room, could the cat get caught in the clutter and harm themselves. This clutter can include what is inside cabinets. For example Zorro was our tiger cat that opened cabinets and would hide in them, especially in the kitchen. So we had to remove cleaners and roach baits to a higher cabinet that he could not access. Luckily, this was the only cabinet that had the doors he could open, so putting up baby locks was not necessary.
Another proofing includes looking high. Is there access to shelves or ledges that the cat could jump on? Could these areas handle the weight or momentum of jumping? Are there any fragile items that will need to be moved? This is a good time to decide should items stay or can they be tossed or recycled somewhere else in the house. I have four ceiling to midway wall shelves made for my music water globes. They are actually situated behind glass to keep my curious cats away from them. The other areas for my fragile and smaller items are located on single small shelf compartments my husband built, specifically to keep them away.
The last challenge in cat proofing a house is the cat themselves. Cats have knack for knowing when they are being watched. The cat will not show their “secret” spot too quickly. Keeping a lookout is key if you have a cat that loves to keep you on your toes. An example of this was about two years ago when my husband and I bought a new entertainment system. This five piece cabinet system was delivered and set up in the library room. Immediately the cats came out of the wood work and starting investigating. They jumped into all of the shelves. These shelves are above five feet tall. They would wonder inside of them, while I was watching. After about an hour they are left. I closed the doors to the system and went about my day. I had not seen Snoopy that afternoon, which is typical, considering she sleeps practically all day. At dinner time she didn’t show. I called, and went on the search. It was about 15 minutes later that I heard some wrestling coming from behind the system. Joe moved two of the cabinets and there she was. Head down, body up and right next to the cords. We quickly removed her and she ran to eat. It was about two hours later, I saw her looking at the entertainment system again. I watched her from the kitchen as she showed me her “secret”. Jumping from the couch onto a walking ledge she leaped onto one of the cabinets next to the wall. When she tried to walk to the other system cabinets she fell again. Joe moved the cabinet and we removed her. Joe went to the garage and put on a piece of plywood temporarily until a permanent attachment could be made. After this was done, Snoopy didn’t really have anymore inclination to do any more exploring. But we have not removed this plywood for fear she may one day try again.
I like using this example. Why? Because everything I wrote about proofing a house we forgot to do when it came to this new system. The shelves were sturdy enough and in fact the cats had taken turns investigating the insides of the shelves. What I didn’t think of at the time was the top of the system. Mainly because I couldn’t see it so I didn’t think about what was up there. Snoopy taught me otherwise. No matter if the rest of the house is proofed, all it takes is one “miss” that could lead to devastating results.