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Because such potentially fatal feline diseases as Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), Feline Aids (FIV) (no, it's not contagious to humans), and respiratory viruses are common - not to mention automobiles, predators, cruel humans, and other hazards - we require that you not allow your kitten to run freely outside. (Even if the kitten has been vaccinated against FeLV and FIP, it may still be at risk of infection.) If you choose to ignore this requirement, the chances are good that your kitten will not survive its first year, and you will be in violation of your contract. If, however, you keep the kitten inside, or only take it out on a leash (as described below) life expectancy is 12 years or more.

Before you let your new kitten loose in your home, check for the following safety hazards:

Electrical and phone cords left dangling

Toilet lids left up (a kitten can easily drown in a toilet bowl)

Open firescreens

Open stairways

Reclining chairs and hide-a-beds (the mechanism of these can easily crush a kitten who has crawled inside)

Hideaway (Murphy) beds (again, they can crush a kitten caught in the mechanism)

Fringe or any loose trim (kittens have been known to strangle when their heads get twisted in the fringe or in a hole between trim and fabric.)

Dangling drapery cords (another invitation to strangulation)

Accessible garbage (especially any kind of bones -- bones can either splinter and perforate the stomach or intestines, or form an intestinal blockage)

Needles and/or thread; knitting and/or crocheting materials

Rubber bands (which can wrap around the intestines)

Plastic wrap (the kitten can eat it, strangle on it, or suffocate in it)

Plastic bags (a kitten can become trapped and suffocate, or get its head tangled in the loop and panic)

Styrofoam (especially packing "peanuts") which the kitten may eat

Cigarettes (yes, they'll eat them)

Yarn toys (if they come unraveled, they can wrap around the intestines or block them)

Toys with easily removed and swallowed parts

Cellophane (it turns glassy in the stomach and can cause internal lacerations)

Christmas tree needles, tinsel, and decorations

Open refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves, ovens, washers, dryers -- always check for kittens before shutting or turning on any appliance!

Put away feathers and toys attached to string (such as kitty teasers) after use. Kittens and cats will often eat feathers and swallow string.

Keep your workshop off limits. Cats will jump at moving objects such as drills and power saws. They may also swallow screws, nails, wire, and other small parts.

Kittens like to taste about everything. Keep all cleaning products and other chemicals stored away and out of reach. Anything with phenyl (check the label) is deadly to cats (this includes Lysol).

Cats love to drink out of toilet bowls, so it's wise not to use anything in your toilet. The best disinfectant to use is one part bleach to 30 parts water. Remember, kittens lick their paws, so be careful what you use on your floors and counters.

Cats love certain scents, and one of their favorites is antifreeze, which will kill a cat in short order. If your kitten should get into anti-freeze and you discover it in time, RUN to the nearest vet or emergency clinic.

Keep the numbers of your local poison control center, your vet, and the emergency clinic posted by your phone.

Poisonous Plants: The following plants are in some degree poisonous or hazardous to cats:
Anemone, black cherry, bloodroot, buttercup, caladium, castor bean, clematis, crocus, cycads, daphne (splurge laurel), delphinium, dicentra (bleeding heart), dieffenbachia, elephant's ear, english ivy, foxglove, four o'clock, hellebore, hemlock, holly, hyacinth, hydrangea, indian splurge tree, jack-in-the-pulpit, jerusalem cherry, jimson weed, lantana (red sage), larkspur, lily-of-the-valley, mistletoe, morning glory, mountain laurel, oleander, philodendron, poinsettia*, poinciana (bird of paradise), poison ivy, poison oak, pokeweed, rhododendron, solandra (trumpet flower), star of bethlehem (snowdrop), sweet pea, thornapple, wisteria, and yew. * Some experts have removed poinsettia from the list of harmful plants.

Collars and Leashes:
If you use a collar on your kitten, check it daily to be sure it isn't becoming too tight as the kitten grows. Conversely, a kitten can easily catch its lower jaw in a too-loose collar. A breakaway collar is the best choice, as it will separate if it becomes caught on something.

If you train your kitten to a leash, use a harness designed for cats -- never a collar (a cat will only struggle against the pull of a collar around its neck, but is more amenable to the behind-the-front-legs tug of a harness). Remember that harnesses are not totally secure, and a cat wearing a harness and leash should NEVER be left unsupervised. The cat may slip out of the harness, or strangle himself on the leash.

Never walk a leashed cat near a roadway or on a busy sidewalk unless you're sure the cat is very calm (cats that can be trusted not to panic in these situations are literally one-in-a-million!). The noise and motion of cars, people, other animals, etc., can cause a cat to panic, slip its harness, and dash into danger. The best place for your leashed cat is in your own quiet back yard with you.

excerpt from an article originally written by Trish Simpson