Are you thinking of getting a kitten or have you recently gotten one? You’d probably agree that they’re an adorable addition to any family. Their curiosity and playfulness provide hours of entertainment and fun. However, this curiosity can sometimes get kittens into dangerous situations when they go at things that they shouldn’t. We’ll go through some of the biggest health risks and hazards for kittens and how to kitten-proof your home.
Health Hazards for Kittens – General Health Risks
We’ll be focusing on household health hazards in this article, but it’s important to note that any kitten should receive a kitten wellness exam to prevent some of the biggest health risks.
Kittens are at a high risk of parasite burdens and contracting viral illnesses like cat flu and feline leukemia virus. They should receive flea and worming treatment and vaccinations from your veterinarian at the appropriate time (your vet will tell you what age is best for this).
With many unwanted kittens in rescue centers and the health risks associated with young cats breeding (pregnancy complications, contracting viruses during breeding), it’s important to get your kitten spayed or neutered before you start allowing them to explore the outdoors. Kittens as young as 14 weeks are at risk of pregnancy.
Health Hazards for Kittens in the Home
Kittens are naturally very curious and they’ll often find the smallest nook and cranny to explore. It’s no surprise that they often find themselves in situations where they can become stuck, injured, or lost. As pet parents, it’s vital for us to know what potential hazards could threaten our kittens and how to kitten-proof our homes.
Edible food items that might seem harmless for us to eat might not be the same for kittens. Certain foods can be very harmful or toxic for our kittens to eat.
Foods to avoid include:
Artificial sweeteners like Xylitol
Fatty or processed foods
Foods with marinades or flavors added and spicy foods
Kittens don’t necessarily know the difference between items that are edible, like cat kibble, and items that aren’t, like string, plastic, or toys. When a kitten eats inedible items, this can cause anything from a mild gastrointestinal upset to an intestinal blockage. The risks of this can be minimized by:
Keeping the floors and counters clear of small items that can be ingested
Promptly disposing of empty food packages or packets that smell like food
Supervising your kitten around toys that may be ingested
Avoiding sharp toys or toys that can break easily
Steering clear of using string as a toy
Using appropriate kitten-safe litter bought from a pet shop or veterinary clinic
Supervising your kitten around paper and plastic products that pose a risk of ingestion
Electrical Risks for Kittens
Kittens are similar to toddlers when it comes to plugs and electrical cables. They’re very curious and will likely try to bite the cables or play with them. This poses a serious electrocution risk. This risk can be reduced by:
Securing loose cables and plugs
Encasing cables in a plastic covering onto the wall
Using baby plug inserts for sockets
Unplugging any electrical equipment that you aren’t using
General Household Risks for Kittens
We’ve discussed some specific risks above but there are also some general health risks and hazards in the house for kittens that reinforce the need to kitten-proof your home. These include but aren’t limited to:
Blind cords (risk of choking) – tie up cords or use cord-free blinds
Toilets –as open toilets pose a risk of drowning, ensure that toilet covers are kept closed
Open windows – as well as being an escape risk, your kitten might get stuck in the window - use window latches or window covers to prevent this
Doors – doors slamming closed or opening can cause an injury risk if a kitten is in the way - a door stopper can prevent this
Areas of the home with lots of kitten hazards - baby gates can be a useful alternative to keep kittens in a certain area or keep them away from dangerous areas
Other Risks to Your Kitten
In addition to the health hazards that food items and household objects can have on kitten safety, there are other external risks to your kitten's safety to consider.
Other pets including other cats and dogs, can pose a threat of injury and stress to the kitten. This is especially common when introductions occur very quickly and without proper research. It’s very important to ensure that you’ve researched the proper way to introduce your kitten to other pets to prevent negative experiences and incidents.
Humans can pose a risk to kittens also. This is usually in regard to babies and toddlers who don’t understand how to interact with kittens yet. The child might not handle the kitten right which may cause injury; the kitten could also defend itself causing injury to the child. It’s important to introduce them slowly and always provide adult supervision.
Risks in the Big Wide World
As we’ve already mentioned, one risk of a kitten going outdoors is unwanted pregnancy. This can be prevented by having your kitten spayed or neutered by your veterinarian. Keeping vaccinations up to date will also prevent them from contracting some harmful diseases from other cats.
Whether you keep your kitten indoors permanently or allow outdoor access when they’re older depends on your particular environment and situation, for instance if you live near a very busy main road where the risk of your cat being hit by a car is very high, you might decide to keep them as an indoor cat.
If you decide to let them outdoors, the big question is when can kittens go outside? We need to make sure that they’re old enough (anywhere from 6-10 months depending on your cat’s size and maturity) and under supervision initially. Ensure that they can easily come back inside if threatened outdoors (by another cat, dog, etc.). Treat any injuries like animal bites and cuts or scrapes with prompt care from your veterinarian.
Kittens are a delight to be around and will keep you entertained for hours on end. Make sure that you prepare your home for a kitten by kitten-proofing any dangerous areas and researching any hazards to them beforehand.
Getting a new puppy? Learn how to prepare your home here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are common health risks to kittens?
Health risks include viral diseases, parasites, and infections. The most common would include cat flu, feline viruses (FELV, FIV), fleas, ear mites, and worms.
What foods are kittens not allowed to eat?
Kittens can become ill if they eat onions, garlic, chocolate, fatty foods, bones, or human medications. If you think your kitten has eaten something harmful, please contact your vet.
Are toilets dangerous for kittens?
Open toilets can pose a drowning risk to your kitten. They can also contain harmful detergents and cleaning agents which could be poisonous to your kitten.
What household items are dangerous for kittens?
Household items such as electrical wires and cables, plug sockets, blind cords, open toilets, chemical substances, open doors or windows, and sharp objects can all be potentially harmful to a kitten.