By Kathleen MacKinnon
What Do Fuzzy, Cookie, Cassidy, and Zsa-Zsa All Have in Common?
They survived “near misses” and lived to tell their stories! Thanks, in part, to their astute SPCA NOVA foster parents who responded quickly to their predicaments. With “kitten season” upon us, now is a good time for anyone who is thinking about adopting kittens to make sure their home is safe (and stays safe) before bringing the little ones home!
Kittens, and young cats, are just like toddlers. They are very curious and get into EVERYTHING! They seem to spend a great deal of time trying to injure themselves and scare their caretakers to death! The fearless ones might try “leaping” from one tall piece of furniture to the next or off a staircase banister. Another might try a little game of hide-and-seek and crawl inside a wall in an unfinished basement. And since kittens don’t have “hands” they carry things in their mouths – making them easy targets for choking or swallowing things they shouldn’t!
Just about anything that can happen, will happen to someone’s kitten. Below is a short list of things to think about. In the meantime…
A fluffy, black, playful “teenager.” He was having a ball playing with a thin 12 inch silk string. Well aware of the potential dangers, 99 percent of the time his foster mom, Sandy, was careful to put the string away when supervised play was over.
However, with just a few minutes of distraction, Sandy turned around to find only 6 inches of string and three suspicious looking cats…none of whom were saying who did it! Since Fuzzy was the youngest and most playful kitty in the room, he was the prime suspect.
After calling ahead to get advice, Sandy rushed Fuzzy to an emergency veterinary hospital at 1 am. Luckily, the vet was able to use an endoscope to remove the string before it had become wrapped inside his intestines. Quick action not only saved his life, but spared him from having to undergo emergency surgery.
Cookie was lucky, but not as lucky as Fuzzy! A six month old adorable, playful tabby. Nancy, her foster mom, arrived home one evening after work to find Cookie not her usual playful self. When Nancy tried to feed her, Cookie immediately threw up her food. After some time monitoring her behavior, Nancy took Cookie to a veterinarian who took x-rays and determined that there was an “almond shaped” foreign object in her intestines causing a blockage. After successfully undergoing emergency surgery, it was discovered that Cookie had, in fact, swallowed an almond!
An adorable all black 8 week old kitten who loved wresting with his sister, Sundance. These kittens were very special to me since I had rescued them as orphans and bottle fed them beginning at 3 weeks of age. I thought they were safely tucked away in a “kitten-proof” room until one day I heard screeching coming from their room.
I ran to their room and found Sundance standing on the bed – back arched and hair standing on end! I turned around to find Cassidy hanging upside down with one of his back legs tangled in the cords of the window blinds.
I thought I had already “kitten-proofed” the blinds by cutting the cord into two pieces so there was no noose at the bottom to get tangled up in. But I was wrong. Cassidy still managed to get himself tangled in the cord. Luckily, Cassidy’s little escapade did not cause any injury, because I was home and able to rescue him quickly.
And, then there’s little Zsa-Zsa. An adorable 10 week old fluffy Siamese mix kitten. As rambunctious and playful as they come. Her foster mom, Ellie, has a hard and fast rule that her two older children, 6 and 8 yrs old, are allowed only supervised play with all foster kittens.
After a brief distraction that led Ellie to leave her kids alone with the kittens, she returned to find Zsa-Zsa breathing heavily and hiding under the bed with the string of a feather toy wrapped tightly around her neck. After scooping her up and snipping the string with scissors, Zsa-Zsa recovered quickly, but not before giving her foster mom quite a scare!
Tips on How to Keep Your Kittens Safe
- Keep small items such as pennies, paper clips, buttons, rubber bands, strings, and yarn (including knitted blankets) out of reach.
- Be careful in the kitchen, and when entertaining, do not leave food out that could be swallowed and lodged in a kitten’s throat or intestines (e.g., nuts, grapes, and hard candy).
- Keep cupboards closed, with child safety-proof devices where needed, especially where you store medications and cleaning supplies.
- Keep toilet seats DOWN at all times (except when in use!).
- Make sure open windows have secure screens.
- Learn which houseplants and flowers are toxic to cats and move them to a secure room.
- Block access to small spaces especially in laundry rooms and unfinished basements.
- Look before you step or sit down (especially in reclining chairs)!
You can find a more complete list of how to kitten-proof your home on our website under the “Cat Health and Behavior Page.”
And, remember, kitten-proofing is not something you do just once before you bring the kittens home. You need to kitten-proof continually, day in and day out, and adapt your home to the kittens’ different abilities… remember they run faster and farther, and climb higher, as they grow-up.