Louis was my first cat, so I had quite the learning experience when I brought him home and discovered that, unlike the dogs of my childhood, this little guy could climb my cabinets, get into my cabinets, fit through seemingly impossible spaces, and cause more mischief and mayhem than I ever thought possible for a five pound kitten. I’m exaggerating, but only slightly.
Based on my experiences with baby Lou and later with Emory and Olivia, I’ve compiled my top ten list for making your house cat friendly. This is a non-exhaustive list, but these have been the most pertinent issues I’ve faced in my cat-mom tenure.
- Watch for poisonous houseplants! Cats like to chew on things, so make sure that whatever plants you have around are safe for cats for when they inevitably decide to give them a taste. Websites like PetMD and ASPCA have some great resources for determining what plants are cat safe!
- Keep breakable trinkets in display cases. I think that this tip can be pretty disappointing, since it means limiting the display of cute trinkets, but it is definitely a necessary one. As I write this, for example, Olivia walked across the tv stand and knocked off a figurine and two DVD cases. So, for your breakable figurines and trinkets, I recommend getting plexiglass or acrylic display cases to keep prying paws away. Stores like the Container Store and Joann’s have some awesome display case options that will keep your kitty friend from smacking your breakables off a bookshelf. Alternatively, if you’re able to, you can try putting shelves up where your fur baby can’t reach.
- Put charging cords away when they’re not in use. I’ve noticed that cats like to chew on things or “taste” things, especially if the item in question is not a cat toy. Unfortunately, this often includes charging cords or other electrical wires. Not only is it incredibly frustrating to have your furbaby chew through an $80 computer charger, but it’s also potentially dangerous for the kitty. A good way to keep kitties from going after cords is to put them away in drawers when they’re not in use. I’ve found that wrapping up longer wires to remove the slack in the cord seems to reduce Louis and Olivia’s interest in them. Simultaneously, it’s important to provide cats with proper toys and exercise, so they don’t start going after cords out of boredom. Click here for some of Louis and Olivia’s favorite scratchers and toys.
- Keep makeup and perfume – especially those in glass canisters – in drawers and cabinets. If your cat is anything like Olivia, all the glass you own is going to end up on the floor. Unfortunately, expensive perfumes and skincare products are no exception (RIP Chanel Coco Noir bottle, broken at the hand of little Lou), even on carpeted floors. I recommend coming up with some kind of drawer organization system to keep these things away from interested paws. I’ve had pretty good luck with some of the acrylic storage kits from the Container Store and this awesome two tier cabinet basket from Amazon.
- Watch for heated stovetops. My cats are climbers, and I’ve never had much luck keeping them off countertops (read: I gave up and stopped trying). Because of this, I’m careful never to leave a hot stove uncovered. Anytime I use the stove, I leave the pot or pan on until the cook top cools. This means that I either leave whatever extra food is in the pot there until after I eat (by which point the stove is usually cooled) or I fill the empty pot or pan with a few inches of water and leave it to cool. The cats seem to understand that they’re supposed to stay away from the stove area when there are pots and pans on it, but you can never be too careful, so keep an eye on them anyway!
- Supervise toys with sparkly streamers. You know the stick toys that look like cheerleader pom poms? They’re a huge hit. Cats everywhere love them. Unfortunately, though, these things seem to be just oversized strips of tinsel. If your cat is anything like mine, they’re going to try to eat the streamers. I don’t leave these toys out unsupervised anymore since I heard from a vet student friend that the sparkly strips can cause lacerations as it passes through the stomach and intestines (click here for more information on this issue). Plus, by keeping these toys put away, it makes them even more special when you bring them out for supervised play!
Alternatively, check out Lou and Liv’s absolute favorite toys, sparkly pom pom balls!
- Get cat nail clippers and learn to use them! Cats scratch things; it’s a simple fact. While they may scratch out of boredom sometimes, it’s more of a biological necessity than anything else. Scratching is an important part of kitty health, since it allows them to basically file their nails and to stretch their whole bodies. Therefore, besides getting plenty of scratchers or carpeted cat trees, it’s in your best interest to learn to trim their nails yourself. Your vet can teach you to trim their nails regularly, and once you get the hang of it, it’s really no work at all. I personally prefer this nail scissor style, since I find it easier to use than the spring loaded ones, which seem more appropriate for thicker dog nails in my opinion. Plus, the nail scissor style is handy for cutting yarn, so I keep them around for my Critter Crafting projects. Whatever kind of clipper you decide to get, your kitty and your furniture will thank you.
- Keep breakable and sharp kitchen items put away when not in use. Plates, utensils, knives, glasses, and any other breakables should be kept away whenever you’re not using them. Cats love to knock things off counters or to accidentally move things around while they try to figure out what they are. Just because the knife is sharp doesn’t mean your kitty friend is going to stay away from it. Relatedly, consider using glasses that are not plastic or that have tops for your morning coffee and the like, since kitties are curious and like to put their paws in things and pull them over…. I recommend Hydroflasks, like this one, and Yeti cups; we use them almost exclusively while at home. (Plus, these cups are great for the environment! I use my Yeti for Starbucks runs all the time.)
- Provide your cat with plenty of stimulation.Cats are natural hunters, so they need outlets for their instincts so they don’t start taking them out on you and your furniture. Supply your cat with plenty of toys and scratchers to keep them entertained, like Louis’ favorite catnip toy and Louis’ favorite scratcher. We’ve compiled a list of some of Louis and Olivia’s favorite toys, scratchers, and beds here. We can’t recommend the sling bed enough!
- Secure hanging pictures!Guess why this one was added to this list. Because Olivia just tried to knock a hanging painting off the wall. We’ve had pretty good success by using the 3M Command Hook mounting strips at the bottom corners of pictures. This keeps the pictures hanging straight, despite both Olivia and Louis’ best attempts to remove them.
Do you have any tips for making your house cat friendly!? Cats are clever little creatures, so we’re always open to new ideas on how to keep them (and our stuff!) safe.