Babyproofing with cats | How to childproof cat food and the litter box

Once your baby is mobile and starts exploring the house, the real fun of parenthood begins! If you haven’t babyproofed your home yet, seeing your baby crawl or scoot towards something that they shouldn’t be interacting with is usually the lightbulb moment when parents think, “It’s time to babyproof!”

If you are a proud cat owner and have a new baby or a mobile baby, this post is for you. You want the best protection money can buy for your little one, and you also want your cat to be as comfortable as possible with a new family member around. There are so many products on the market that claim to be the best at baby proofing with cats, but we’ve narrowed it down to the latest and greatest. 

We’re sharing two important baby proofing tips in this post — how to baby proof cat food and the litter box. 

You will find that as your baby becomes more mobile and aware of their surroundings, their curiosity towards your cat will heighten. Since cats are around eye-level with crawling babies, your child may start following the cat around the house.

It’s inevitable that the litter box and food dish will be discovered at some point. In order to keep your baby safe and your cat happy, here are a few products for your home that will bring peace of mind that your baby isn’t eating something he shouldn’t be, and your cat isn’t feeling panicked at not having a safe space of her own. 

Babyproofing with cats is totally manageable, no matter what your home or budget looks like.




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How to Baby Proof Cat Food

As a new parent and a cat owner, you’ve most likely Googled, “Is it bad for a baby to eat cat food?” And don’t feel guilty if your baby has gotten into the cat food; babies are curious, fearless, and are arguably the busiest creatures on earth! Anything on their radar that looks enticing to grab or put in their mouths is fair game. 

To prevent your baby from chowing down on cat kibble, we suggest getting creative with babyproofing your cat’s food set up through the useful products listed below. 

Automatic Food Dispenser – PetSafe

If your cat is a grazer and consistently leaves food in the bowl throughout the day, it’s a sitting target for babies to find the food dish and start investigating what’s inside. An automatic food dispenser, like this one from PetSafe on Amazon is a great option to avoid this situation altogether; you can schedule feeding times when the baby is out of reach, napping, or out of the house entirely, so your cat can enjoy a peaceful meal without stressing about being interrupted and scarfing down their meal too quickly. 

Pros

  • Automatic features save you time 
  • Multiple cats? No problem. This attachment allows you to feed both at once
  • The baby will see an empty bowl and lose interest 
  • Also great for feeding your cat when you’re away from home for an extended time

Cons

  • The baby could find and press the Manual button to open the lid 
  • It’s a pricey option for a food dispenser, but worth the investment for some 
  • This feeder can’t dispense wet food 

Microchip Pet Feeder – Sure Petcare

Once registered with your cat’s microchip or RFID collar tag (included), the like the PetSafe SureFeed (available on Amazon) lid opens when it senses the animal is nearby. Otherwise, the food lid will remain closed, and your baby can not access the food inside the feeder. This is a great option for families with multiple cats or a very curious baby who finds his way into everything.

Pros

  • The lid only opens when the registered cat is present
  • The baby can not access food unless the lid is open 
  • Provides peace of mind that your baby can explore without getting into the cat food
  • Helps maintain a harmonious relationship between cat and baby 
  • Works for wet and dry cat food

Cons

  • The cat needs to be chipped or wearing the SureCare collar in order for the feeder to work 
  • Your baby could try to get into the food while the cat is eating 
  • There’s no barrier on the back of the dish to prevent the baby from accessing the food 
  • The lid stays open for a few seconds after the cat exits the area, leaving the opportunity for the baby to swoop in

Is it bad for a baby to eat cat food?

is it bad for a baby to eat cat food

While there aren’t any toxic ingredients in cat food that can harm a child, the bigger concern is if they swallow a large pellet and the choking hazard this presents. Babies are still learning how to move food around in their mouths and how to swallow effectively, and a crunchy piece of kibble isn’t a typical food item in their diet. 

Your baby could also have an allergic reaction to a number of the ingredients present in your cat’s food. To prevent any scares like these in your home, we recommend finding an automatic feeder or a food storage option so it’s safely out of your baby’s way.  

Cat food or any other pet food should never be a replacement for human food, and if your child consumes a large amount of cat food and you are concerned, don’t hesitate to call Poison Control at 1-888-222-1222.

How to Baby Proof a Cat Litter Box 

how to baby proof your cats litter box

Of course, thinking about babyproofing with respect to your cat’s kitty litter, you want to keep your child away for health reasons.

Plus, when it comes to the litter box, cats can be highly territorial in this area and will likely act strangely if they feel their privacy is threatened by a baby or another animal. The best way to keep things as normal as possible for your feline friend is by providing a space that is specifically theirs and making sure they know it. If that’s not an option in your home, here are a few other ideas.

Door Strap – Door Buddy 

For cats whose litter box is behind a closed door, this poses a challenge for parents who can’t constantly be on the lookout to open the door so the cat can do their business. 

Door Buddy (click to check the price on Amazon) is an adjustable strap that parents can mount to any door in the home that they want to keep babies out of. Door Buddy mounts to the door and door frame, creating tension that a baby (or dog) can’t push through. 

The strap holds the door open wide enough that a cat can slip through to their food and litter box, but any larger animal or baby can’t pass through. Should you need to get into the secured room, there’s an unlock latch mechanism that allows you quick access to the area. 

Related post: The Best Cat Friendly Baby Gates

Pros

  • Hides what is behind a door so baby can’t see in and try to explore
  • Create a safe space for your cat to do their business 
  • Works on pocket doors, double doors, and bi-fold doors
  • You can operate Door Buddy with one hand from inside or outside the room

Cons

  • You have to unlock the strap each time you want to enter the secured room 
  • If the baby is persistent enough or hits the door with enough force, the strap could separate from the door 
  • The semi-permanent adhesive is already attached to Door Buddy, so you can’t swap it out for any other adhesive or velcro 
  • Semi-permanent adhesive reacts to different textures and may damage walls or paint

Litter Box Furniture – Sweet Barks

For those who don’t have a separate space like a laundry room for their cat to use the bathroom, there are some innovative and sleek litter box furniture options that can blend in with your home decor without sticking out like a sore thumb. 

With litter box furniture, you can get the best of both worlds — a concealed way for your cat to take care of business, and discrete enough that your baby won’t look twice at it. 

This particular litter furniture piece from Sweet Barks on Amazon can be used as a side table, nightstand, or any other small table in your home. It has a door on the front with a cutout for your cat to climb through in order to get to the box. The door is magnetic, so it will be difficult for a baby to pull it open if they notice the door handle. It’s perfect for babyproofing with cats and decorating your home!

Pros

  • Provide your cat with its own space within a discrete piece of furniture
  • Magnetic latch on the door prevents baby from easily opening 
  • Doubles as a nightstand or side table, with a wide top for decor and other items
  • Less of an eyesore than traditional litter boxes, and with less litter dragged around the house

Cons

  • It may only work for smaller cats to fit comfortably through the opening 
  • The size of the litter pan inside may not be suitable for multiple cats
  • The door latch may not be strong enough to prevent the baby from opening, so you may need to install an additional babyproofing lock on the inside of the door
  • It’s a high price point for a litter box, but affordable when considered as dual-purpose

Related post: Have an outdoor cat? Discover the best childproof dog doors!

Is cat litter safe around babies?

Generally speaking, cat litter is not harmful to babies. 

Because your baby is still growing and developing, his immune system is not as strong as an adult’s. While it’s common knowledge that babies should definitely not consume cat litter or the waste that is in the box, if they do, try not to immediately panic. 

There are parasites in cat feces that can cause illness in babies and young children, and that same parasite is the reason pregnant women should never handle a litter box. If you see your baby eating litter or feces, contact your pediatrician just to be safe. They’ll be able to tell you what you should watch for and what to do next. However, looking at babyproofing with cats will help reduce the chance of any of these things happening.

Final Thoughts on Babyproofing with Cats

babyproofing with cats

Growing up with a cat in the house is a wonderful way to teach a child responsibility, friendship, and respect for animals. Studies show that living with a cat or any pet can also decrease a child’s likelihood of developing allergies, asthma, and hay fever later in life. Cat ownership makes you healthier, believe it or not! So babyproofing with cats will also set your child up for wonderful memories and experiences as they grow older.

Related post: Will having a cat (or dog) help you prepare for having a baby?

Whether your cat was your first baby, or if you plan to introduce a cat into your household while your child is young, there are many great products available that can make this process easy and safe for everyone involved. Following these tips for babyproofing with cats will let you keep both your child and cat safe and happy!

Related post: How to babyproof your wine rack and wine fridge

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