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Keeping kittens safe

EPSON DSC picture
Maggy plays with a ball of tin foil.

Kittens follow one rule: if it moves, play with it; if it doesn’t move, climb up or in it.

Their curiosity puts them at more risk than most people realize. Many kittens die in accidents that leave families heartbroken.

Katie’s Place kittens only go to indoor homes. This protects them from the obvious risks of traffic and predators. However, kittens have been killed by ordinary items, from dental floss to recliners.

Brigitta MacMillan is a volunteer at Katie's Place.

Before bringing a fur-baby home, you need to prepare.

Look at your home from a kitten’s perspective. If they can go somewhere, they will. Put screens on windows or open them no more than an inch.

Cover holes, vents, or ducts. Screen off the fireplace. Block access to underneath your bed with boxes or boards. Otherwise a kitten will find a way inside the bedsprings.

If you use baby gates, make sure the mesh or slats are not large enough for the kitten to get stuck.

Young animals chew when they’re teething. Electrical cords and phone cords should be tucked away or covered to prevent burns or shock. Many houseplants are poisonous to animals. Keep them out of reach.

Dangling drapery cords beg to be played with. Fold or hook them out of reach so kittens can’t get tangled and strangle.

Check where your kitten is before adjusting your recliner or foldout bed. Check before turning on the dryer or washing machine. Keep the dryer, washer, dishwasher, oven and fridge doors closed. Keep the lid closed on the toilet so he can’t fall in and drown. Put away string, thread, yarn. They can swallow several yards which require surgery to remove.

Anything small enough to swallow is a choking hazard or can cause intestinal blockage. This includes hair bands, cotton balls, jewelry, coins, buttons, rubber bands, small game pieces and toys with parts that could come off.

Sharp items such as thumb tacks, staples, paperclips, twist ties or tooth picks can perforate intestines. Gather them up, and also look for them where the vacuum cleaner doesn’t reach. Keep your sewing box or tackle box closed. Be vigilant with Christmas decorations.

Secure cleansers, cosmetics, medicines, pest control products, air fresheners, automotive and garden products.

Antifreeze has a sweet taste and is a potent poison. Even if they don’t intentionally ingest something, they can swallow it in play or lick it off their paws.

Several foods are toxic to animals, such as chocolate and onions. Pets are better off sticking to good quality pet food. Clumping clay litter is not for kittens. Pellets of newspaper or sawdust are the best litter for babies.

Lastly, if you have babies of different species, supervise them when they’re together. Kittens have been killed by the family dog in an unguarded split second. One Katie’s Place kitten was accidentally smothered by a toddler. Young children don’t understand how fragile kittens are and need to learn how to play safely with them. Monitor all your babies and they’ll stay healthy and happy into adulthood.