Top 10 safety tips for newbie cat owners

Fire alarm on white wall
There are some fairly simple – and mostly obvious – safety tips I can give you – from my experience with my four Furry Babies – to stop your kitty ‘fire alarms’ from ringing:
  1. INDIVIDUAL KITTY’S DANGER AWARENESS: The first and most important of all tips that I can give you is to get to know your cat and his or her behaviour and quirks so that you can immediately spot when he or she is acting unusually and to pre-identify where his or her particular dangers lie.

One example I can give you here is to discover whether your cat is a plant eater or not as some house plants are poisonous to cats! Check PetMD to see which of your house and garden plants they should be kept away from:

  1. CORDS, CABLES AND CATASTROPHY: Cats will eat/chew anything and everything – they are kind of like kids tasting their way around your house. So, to avoid them electrocuting themselves by chewing through cables hanging loose at the back of your TV unit or work desk or getting strangled by loose cords, such as those on bath robes and blinds, encase them in protective cable tidies or ties so that your cat cannot get to them directly, or spray them with an anti-cat scent – citrus smells like bitter lemon and orange or eucalyptus work best.

Also be aware – as with a wee child – of everyday things like leaving an iron out while it is still hot or putting a boiled kettle on the edge of a counter. If your cat plays with the cable and pulls the red hot iron/kettle with freshly-boiled water over onto itself, he or she will be badly scalded or worse.

  1. CATS DO NOT ALWAYS LAND ON THEIR FEET: In the same vein, despite common misperception that cats always land on their feet, do not think that if your cat falls off an upstairs window ledge or down a flight of stairs, that he or she will be OK. Although cats usually land on their feet, this is not guaranteed so if your cat falls out of a window and is lucky enough to survive, he or she may have broken bones or internal bleeding.

So, to keep your feline safe, keep windows shut or install protective layering/insect screens to keep your cat indoors while it is looking out at the view below.

  1. CHECK KITCHEN APPLIANCES BEFORE USE: Keep kitchen equipment like washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwasher doors shut when they are not in use. Cats have an incorrigible desire to sneak into places that they really shouldn’t be to sleep in peace and quiet so always, without fail, check inside appliances before you use them.

You don’t want to accidently shut your cat in with a load of laundry as the wash cycle will be fatal to him or her.

  1. AVOID CHOKING HAZARDS: As I’ve previously said, cats like to chew and play with pretty much everything and anything that they find around the house. Simple objects like tin can rings and milk bottle stoppers can be a choking hazard for cats through as they chew them into small pieces which can be easily swallowed.

Put these small potential play things into the bin and do not leave them lygin around. Instead, buy your cat some cat-friendly, official toys to play with.

  1. DROWNING DANGER: While most cats will avoid being outside in even the most mild rain shower, there are some kitties that actually like water. Not necessarily jumping fully into a bath but watching the slow drip of a tap or the cylindrical force of a flushing toilet, tapping a water bowl with their paws to sprinkle a few spots on the floor or watching their parent – me in this case – enjoying their morning shower.

Cats seem to love moving water, so to avoid drowning your puss, keep the toilet lid closed and any outside water features – pond, garden fountain, etc – covered over when you’re not there to keep an eye on them.

  1. CAT ONLY PRODUCE: Exactly what it says on the tin – only use cat products – a simple rule but honestly, the number of people that I know who think they can feed their cat with dog or baby food when they’ve run out of cat food is ridiculous. Cats have an entirely different internal system to dogs – and babies – so as nice as you think that baby food may be, because it has tuna in it or something else that you think your cat may want – do not feed it to your feline.

Do not give cats medication of any kind from your medicine cabinet. Always seek advice from a vet before giving your cat any treatment – as things like pain relievers (acetaminophen for example) are deadly to cats. Also, when you have the need to use a flea or tick prevention measure, only ever use official ones that are vet approved. Using cheap alternatives can not only put your cat in danger, but they are also very unlikely to actually work and could even put you and your household at risk of adverse reactions.

  1. CAT VERSUS KID: Another obvious one perhaps but do not leave any small children alone with your cat. Kids under the age of 7 have terrible impulse control and are likely to try to grab your cat’s tail, which will result in said kid being raked by razor-sharp claws, or worse kick your cat like it is a ball. Not good!
  1. TAMING A TIMID TOM: If your cat is unsociable, for the love of goodness, do not try to pick it up to cuddle or sooth it, annoy it by continually stroking and petting and fussing over it, or think that it will be OK if you introduce it to new people, to help it get over its shyness. Cats that are fearful or timid need time, and peace and calm – not being annoyed or upset by your attempts to integrate it into your home / society – to get used to people first.

My best advice is to ignore a timid cat and wait patiently until s/he feels braver around you and comes out to see you when you are both alone. When you pick up your cat, support its chest and legs so it feels safe and, in doing this, builds up its trust in you. From there, you can start to encourage your cat to sit for longer when visitors enter your home or allow someone new to pet him/her but your cat will let you know if this is a no-go and you should always take your lead from him/her.

  1. MICROCHIPPING: This is a fairly easy and quick process where the vet will insert a tiny wafer of electronic material under your cat’s skin – kind of like a mobile phone’s SIM card and akin to having your ear pierced pain-wise – which keeps all of your cat’s information – identity, owner’s name, address and phone number – on it. This is a good thing to have as, if your cat gets lost or is hurt in an accident, anyone finding him or her can take them to a local vet practice for the vet to scan the microchip and contact you directly to reunite you with your furry feline.

A microchip has a unique 15-digit code, which is logged into a national database so if you move home or get a new phone number, be sure to update your records by contacting your cat’s microchip company. Microchipping only costs around £25 but it is so worth the money.


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