Cats are notoriously curious creatures and, much like toddlers, are constantly getting into things they should not be. Sometimes the result is nothing more than frustration for the owner and a bit of a mess, but other times the results can be devastating. Many normal household items can make cats quite sick, and that’s why caring for cats means cat-proofing the home. Here are some tips to make your home as safe as possible for your cat.

 Watch for Poisons

One of the biggest risks for all pets, cats included, is poisons in the home. Now you likely know about the dangers posed by household chemicals and cleaners, and already keep those out of reach, but have you thought about the fact that your cat gets those chemicals on her paws, then sits down and licks those paws? Make sure that you are cleaning as naturally as possible, and when heavy-duty chemicals must be used, keep your cat out of the area until it has dried and ventilated.

Consider, for example, plants. Your houseplants, and the plants in your garden if your cat spends time outside, are tantalizing to your pet. Yet some of these, including rhododendrons, sago palms, lilies, schefflera, kalanchoe and azalea, are dangerous and even potentially fatal if ingested.

At Christmas time, poinsettias are another risk. Even cut flowers you bring into your home, like roses, can upset your cat’s digestive system if ingested. Make sure that you put any plants up and out of reach or in a cat-free area of your home. Also, remember that cats are excellent jumpers and climbers, so the safest option may be to have one room in the home that is designated as a no-cat zone.

Human food can also pose a danger. Caring for cats properly means avoiding table scraps, but sometimes cats will get into food you did not intend for them to have. Grapes, gum, avocado and chocolate are some of the more dangerous people “food” items that your cat may get tempted by. Make sure they are not accessible, and remember that your purse is not a safe place to stash gum unless you keep the purse off the floor and out of the reach of curious paws.

Watch for Strangulation Hazards

You know how you love to play with your cat by holding a toy on a string and letting him chase it? Consider other items in your home that look just like that toy on a string. The tassel on the end of your Venetian blind cords, for example, is quite tempting. Yet, when your cat gets tangled up in these, the results can be deadly. Your cat can strangle to death before you ever knew she was missing.

How can you prevent this? First, work to train your cat not to mess with the blinds, but as you know training cats is not as easy as it sounds. You also need to do what you can to prevent the problem by cat-proofing the blinds. Either get the cords up and out of reach, or invest in a chain connector that will break away from the blinds if too much pressure is put on the cord. These products are commonly sold in child safety areas of stores.

The chain or string on the blinds is just one such strangulation risk. Any cord, including electrical cords, that hangs down is tempting to a cat and will get played with, so you need to keep them up and out of reach. Electrical cords are also a danger if they are chewed, because they can shock your cat or leave exposed wires that are a danger to everyone in the home. Wrap up cords or tuck them out of sight to avoid any dangers.

Cat Choking Hazards

In addition to strangulation, you have to worry about choking and suffocation hazards with cats. Items, like plastic bags and even tinsel on your Christmas tree, that make a lot of noise are tempting to cats. They play with these items and run the risk of suffocation or strangulation. Ingesting these items, if it does not cause the cat to choke, can cause an intestinal blockage that is costly to fix and potentially life threatening. Keep tempting items like these up and out of the way.

Caring for cats means learning to think like one. Look around your home from your cat’s perspective, and see what might be appealing to him, and potentially dangerous. Cat-proofing your home will ensure that you all enjoy a long, healthy life together, without undue risks and an unexpected and heart-breaking tragedy.