Kittenproofing - before you let your kitten loose in your home, check the following safety hazards.
- Poisonous plants
- Electrical and phone cords left dangling
- Keep toilet lids closed (a kitten can easily drown in a toilet bowl)
- Make certain they cannot get in the fireplace.
- Open stairways (kittens, puppies, cats and dogs are at great danger in home with a 'half wall' or even open rails on an upstairs room. They can easily fall through or jump over a half wall, pluging down to the floor below! Take precautions!)
- Reclining chairs, sofabeds, murphy beds and other hide-a-beds (the mechanism of these can easily crush a kitten who has crawled inside)
- Fringe or any loose trim (kittens have been known to strangle when their heads get twisted in the fringe or in a hole between trim and fabric)
- Dangling drapery cords (another invitation to strangulation)
- Accessible garbage (especially any kind of bones - bones can either splinter and perforate the stomach or intestines, or form an intestinal blockage)
- Needles and/or thread; knitting and/or crocheting materials
- Rubber bands (which can wrap around the intestines)
- Plastic wrap or bags (the kitten can eat, or strangle, or suffocate on)
- Styrofoam (especially packing "peanuts") which the kitten may eat
- Cigarettes (kittens may eat)
- Yarn or string toys (can wrap around the intestines or block them); toys with easily removed and swallowed parts
- Cellophane (turns glassy in the stomach and can cause internal lacerations)
- Christmas tree needles, tinsel and decorations
- Open refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves, ovens, washers, dryers - always check for kittens before shutting or turning on any appliance!
- Put away feathers and toys attached to string (such as kitty teasers) after use (eat feathers and swallow string)
- Keep your workshop off-limits (cats will jump at moving objects such as drills and power saws - may also swallow screws, nails, wire and other small parts)
- Cleaning products and other chemicals (anything with phenyl is deadly to cats - this includse products such as Pineoclean and many other disinfectants)
- Floor and counter surfaces (best solution is to use is one part bleach to 30 parts water)
- Anti-freeze (cats love certain scents, and one of their favorites is antifreeze which will kill a cat quickly)
- Never use Lysol products around cats (over a period of time Lysol can sicken or kill a cat)
Emergency Numbers: Keep the phone numbers of your vet, an emergency 'after hours' clinic, and local poison control center, posted by your phone. The number for the National Animal Poison Control Center is (888) 426-4435 - they may charge $65 for a consultation.
Indoors / Outdoors: When making a decision to keep a cat strictly indoors or sometimes let them outdoors, consider the fact that cats face many dangers when outside such as cat fights, dog attacks, hit by cars, poisoned or killed by people that do not like cats and there are many contagious diseases they can get when outside. Facts clearly show that on the average indoor cats live twice as long as cats allowed to go outdoors. Besides the basics of food and water, give them cat toys, a carpeted kitty condo, a nice window to look out of, some attention and affection and they will be content, as well as safe, indoors. Most animals, not all, usually benefit from having an animal companion of their own species. Provide your cat with a window to look out as most cats enjoy sitting in a window. Many Petsmart or Petco Stores sell window seats. Or place a tall cat climbing carpeted house by the window.
Find a veterinarian immediately and establish a relationship. Waiting until you have a sick animal is not the time to find a vet you like and feel comfortable with. Make sure to ask the vet about who would you contact during the hours their clinic is not open. Some vets treat their own emergencies and other vets send you to an animal emergency clinic. Keep the phone numbers of your vet and an emergency 'after hours' clinic (you may want to drive by the emergency clinic so you know how to get there) readily available. Also, keep a vaccinations/worming schedule and all other health information in a place you can easily locate.
The AMVA recommends the following vaccinations for kittens: Feline Panleukopenia Virus Vaccine (distemper), Feline Calicivirus, Rhinotracheitis AKA Feline Herpes Virus, and Rabies. Other vaccines include Bordetella bronchiseptica (for kennel cough), Gardiasis, and Chlamydiosis. Your kitten's lifestyle and circumstances will play a large role in what vaccinations he needs - talk with your veterinarian about the best vaccination plan. If you have adopted your kitten from CAP, the kitten's vaccinations will be up to date, he will be wormed, spayed/neutered, and checked for feline leukemia.
If you plan of giving the currently available Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) vaccine to your kitten, be aware that having had the FeLV series does not guarantee immunity and you should therefore still limit your kitten's exposure to other cats. Cats.about.com has detailed information on vaccination issues.
Fleas: Do not use flea collars, first because their effectiveness is questionable and second, because flea collars can cause skin sores on long-haired cats due to the concentration of poison around the neck. Rather, a good rinse or monthly single dose of products such as Frontline or Advantage (available from your vet) is a better solution to the problem of fleas. Consult your vet for the best option. Flea products contain toxic substances and their use should be minimized to the extent possible.