They say curiosity killed the cat, but it doesn’t have to. Making sure your home is kitty-proof and free of hazards ensures your feline explorer doesn’t get hurt.

Cats can be like kids – prone to accidents and getting into trouble. Some are happy to bask in the sun, gaze out the window and play with toys, but others consider it their job to investigate every household nook and cranny, check any open cupboard or door, and sample anything that crosses their path. And since many cats are indoors-only, they can get bored and seek ways to entertain themselves.

The average household is full of potential hazards that may not seem hazardous at first glance. By taking an inventory and making needed changes, you can head off a trip to the emergency clinic. Keep this checklist on hand to help you avoid household “cat-astrophes”.

Dropped pills can make for a great game of floor hockey, but any kind of human medication, even an aspirin, can be deadly.

Don’t chew on this

  • Anything string-like is hazardous – thread, yarn, dental floss, and meat-flavored string from roasts and turkeys. These items can get wrapped around the tongue and/or lodged in the intestines.
  • Dangling curtain or blind cords swinging in the breeze are double dangerous. Not only can they be chewed, but they can serve as a noose. Fortunately, most blinds come with breakaway cords, but why take the chance? Wrap cords around a bracket installed alongside the window, or around the curtain rod. While you’re at it, watch out for lace curtains that may get caught in your cat’s claws.
  • Ribbon, especially narrow curling ribbon, has sharp edges that can cut a cat’s tongue or mouth. It’s very tempting to a playful feline because it curls and moves. Try to plan wrapping sessions during your feline’s nap time, and make sure any tag ends of ribbon are cleared away.
  • Put bones from the aforementioned roast or turkey in a covered garbage can, preferably inside another bag. Cooked bones can splinter and get stuck in your cat’s throat. A covered garbage can is good practice at any time to avoid temptation.
  • Electrical cords and computer cables are soft and pliable – and very chewable. Office supply stores carry cable zippers that enable you to wrap the cables together. You can also slip the cables through a length of PVC pipe or slit the pipe and tuck the cables inside.

Potential poisons

  • Green household products abound, but don’t consider it an invitation for your cat to sip the floor cleaner. Even natural products may contain essential oils that can be toxic to felines. Since cats inevitably lick their paws, rinse your floor thoroughly and let it dry before granting admission.
  • A curious kitty will often investigate swirling toilet water. Bowl cleaners or fresheners can be toxic, so it makes sense to keep the lid down.
  • Drain cleaners, insecticides, bleach, furniture polish – most anything that lives under your kitchen sink – can be highly toxic. If you hear the door banging from attempted entry, install a baby-proof lock, or move the products to an inaccessible cupboard.
  • While chocolate is most toxic to dogs, cats with a sweet tooth can experience gastrointestinal upsets. Cats aren’t usually tempted by various foodstuffs the way dogs are, but it’s best not to leave leftovers sitting on your kitchen counter.
  • Dropped pills can make for a great game of floor hockey, but any human medication, even an aspirin, can be deadly. Get down on the floor and find the missing meds before your cat does.

Hazardous hidey holes

  • Your cat may follow you on a trip to the attic or basement to conduct her own exploration. Along with getting stuck in a hard-to-reach place, she may also ingest rodent poison left in out-of-the-way places.
  • Watch the underside of your box spring mattress. It’s often a favorite hiding spot. While not necessarily hazardous, the experience may prove upsetting – you might not be able to find your cat, and he might not be able to find his way out.
  • Construction and remodeling projects often expose great unknown spaces, so make sure any open walls are secure when the contractor leaves. Better yet, keep your cat in his own safety zone during renovations.

Other dangers

  • Open windows are magnets for cats. Ensure screens are secure, since a window on the world is important to feline enrichment. Better yet, install a window perch for safe viewing.
  • If you have kids, teach them to pick up Legos and toys with small parts.
  • “Hosers” – kitties with not-so-great litter box habits – may back up to electric outlets and spray, causing electri- cal shorts and possible fires. Get help with the spraying problem and use childproof plug covers.

Most kitties are curious, but you don’t have to discourage this behavior. A little bit of common sense will make your household safe and sound for your furry explorer!