The absolute most important thing you can do to insure you and your cat will have a long life together is to KEEP YOUR CAT INSIDE. There are many diseases in the outside environment, many of them becoming a problem in just the past decade. Parasites abound in the outdoors - fleas, tapeworms, lice. There are irresponsible pet owners, who allow their animals outside even if they know they're ill. Cars kill cats. Dogs kill cats. Raccoons, opossums, coyotes - the list goes on. THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR CAT IS KEEP IT INSIDE, away from the hazards and diseases outside. The cat you have just acquired has never been outside, and is content to stay warm and safe inside.

Inside the house, think of a human toddler. That's just about the level of "child proofing" that is appropriate. Think for your cat - look around for things that could trap them, small spaces that they could get their heads stuck in, exposed electricals, open windows, loose screens, uncovered heat vents, rubber bands laying on the floor, etc. Puppies and kittens just love to chew! Kittens go through a second teething at about four to five months of age. Chewing can be easily dealt with by putting Grannick's Bitter Apple on whatever the cat or kitten chews. Available at pet stores, or through supply catalogs, it is a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and bitter essentials. It tastes really nasty, and your cat will hate it! There are different formulations depending on what you're trying to protect - wood, plants, etc. Choose the one that is appropriate, and the chewing should stop quickly. Many kittens like to chew on electric cords - Bitter Apple is a very effective way to stop this very dangerous behavior.



It's also a good idea to put away anthing that is very delicate and breakable, at least during a kitten's early months. You want to keep your breakables safe, too! Again, this is an area where you have to think for your pet - give your kitten a chance to be a good pet, and put fragile things away for a little while. You'll be able to bring them back out when the kitten matures into a cat.

Many common plants are HIGHLY toxic to cats, and highly tempting. If you have always enjoyed poinsettias at Christmas, you should know these beautiful plants are toxic to cats. So are philodendrons and ivy. You may want to remove some plants from your home, or change to some non-toxic plants, for the safety of your new kitten or cat.

Ask your veterinarian for information on other things that are toxic to cats. Cats have a very different physiology than humans; some things are harmless to humans, but toxic to cats, such as aspirin. Food can also be a problem - for instance, chocolate, if ingested in sufficient quantities, can cause cardiac arrest.

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