Childproofing Pet Areas

Archived Q&A and Reviews



How to baby-proof a cat box

Aug 2012

how do I keep the toddler out of the cat box? she wants to play with the litter and ''clean'' it. purrrfect parent

Not sure how your house is laid out, but when our son showed interest in playing in''sandbox,'' we put it in the bathroom and blocked the door with a pressure-set baby/pet gate. Our cat had no problem accessing it by jumping over. And to prevent the spread of litter on the tile floor and into the rest of the house (which has always driven me crazy), we use a covered litter box placed on top of a decent-sized carpet remnant. Then we faced the cat box opening towards the wall with enough room for our cat to get in and out. It has worked amazingly well. Good luck! anon

If your cat box is in a room/closet of its own, our solution may work for you: We installed a very long-hooked lock high up on the door -- the kind that is a long hook that latches to an eye on the other side -- in such a way that it keeps the door open just the cat's width, but less than the toddler's width. Thus it allows entry to one but not the other and it is easy to unlock for adults but way too high for the toddler to unhook. Hope that works!

i'll recommend what i did to keep my old dog out of the litter box: i kept the litter box in our second bathroom (but could be any room that is less often used, or even a closet, etc). then i used one of those hook and eye locks, installed such that the door was locked in the slightly open position. Ie, the hook, when latched, kept the door just open enough for the cat to get in and out, but not the dog (or baby, as case may be). no kitty treats!

I remember this problem! I used a mostly enclosed litter box and faced the entrance towards a wall in a corner under some cabinetry, so the cat could access but the toddler didn't. I think I still have it if you'd like it. Our old kitty passed away this spring. Feel free to contact me if you want it. I'm in Oakland. Kelly

I have a Clever Cat cat box. it has a lid with a hole on top. The cat goes in the top to use it. The cat didn't like it at first but I gave treats for using it each time. Maybe the baby would stay out of it? Crazy Cat Lady

We tried two different things for this. First, we put the cat box in our mud room and put a pet gate in the doorway. (It's essentially a baby gate, but has a little door that the kitties can go through. It also keeps dogs out, for the same reasons.) This worked great. It was a pain in the neck to get through with the laundry baskets, etc. But it worked fine for the babies.

The other thing we did was put the litter box inside a cabinet we bought for the mud room. We had very little shelving & cupboard space in there so we went to the hardware store and bought some white cabinets. One of them faces away from the doorway to the kitchen so we cut a hole for the cats. Now we're thrilled to have the cat box out of sight! Let me know if you need more tips on this. 8^) Mailisha

Baby Gate for house with a cat that doesn't jump

Nov 2006

I live in the Oakland Hills and have a lot of stairs in my house. We will need baby gates in the next few months to protect my infant daughter. However we also have a cat that doesn't jump. I am concerned she will not be able to navigate her way through the house once the gates go up. Are there baby gates that are designed to be pet friendly? What have others done in this situation? Thanks for the help! -Uncoordinated cat owner

Our cat doesn't jump either. We now install our baby gates a little higher with room for the cat to go through under the gate. Just make sure you don't put the gate too high so your child tries to go under! Andi

We had this problem too! I have seen a few solutions: 1. Cats can squeeze between incredible small spaces - raising the gate 4 inches above the floor should do the trick. 2. We had a wooded gate and cut a little ''hole'' in it by sawing a bit off the bottom of one of the poles and fastening it across the top. It's 4 1/4 inches wide and our huge 17 lb cat goes through it easily. 3. Lastly, if there is a door involved, you can just get a hook and eye and install it so it is left open about 4 '' Andrea

We hung our baby gates high enough for our cat to squeeze underneath. Whatever works

Crawling baby and dog's water dish

April 2006

I have a 6 1/2 month old son who started crawling 2 weeks ago. He just recently discovered the dog water dish. We try to keep the water level in it very low but I hear so many stories about drownings that I'm terrified. What did any one else do about their dog water dish and crawling baby? M.

hi, when our son became mobile, we bought a ''buddy bowl'' which is marketed as a spill-proof water bowl. i think you can get one at any pet store. it has a lid which leaves a much smaller drinking area than our regular bowl. a child can still put their hand in it, but not much else. it's worked well for us--both our big dog and our cats drink from it. eowyn

I'll start this by saying that I would be considered somewhat lax when it comes to infant ''safety.'' I put it in quotes because I make sure my son is safe, but.. no knobs on the stove, no soft covers on the bathtub spot, no soft corners on the coffee table, etc.

We wanted our son to learn how to navigate in out house as fast as possible. Simply put, he was never around the dog dishes unless I was in the kitchen. When he discovered them, he at first splashed, then the bowl was removed. Then he played w/ the food a bit - the bowl was removed. As he got stronger and more agile, he could flip the bowl over - there was a period of time when the water bowl was the absolute best toy in the house, but once he flipped it/splashed too much, it was taken away.

Eventually he started splashing less, and now he couldn't care less (he just turned 2). Except, that is, one of his favorite things now is to tell me that the water bowl is empty and to fill the food bowl himself. Which is what we were hoping for - that he learned to live w/ the dog bowls versus us modifying our lives to the point of absurdity.

We didn't make a big deal out of it, and now a little over a year later, those bowls are nearly a non-entity to him. Catherine

Try an elevated dog dish. If the child should stand and stick his head in the water, he'll fall before he drowns. Several places have different types. Here's one type: Gwynne

Your post made me wonder what kind of dog you have - hopefully one that is very gentle with crawling babies. If the baby is down by the dog dish I assume the dog is nearby, too. This would seem like as much of a concern as the water in the dog dish. I am a dog-lover, so don't get me wrong, but if your baby is just crawling it might be best to keep the dog in a separate area, at least while the baby is awake and about. Even if this is not feasible, or not what you choose to do, you can still find a different location for the dog dish. Outside is preferable, but if you can't do that, maybe you can gate off an area for this purpose.

I have two dogs and a baby and we have decided to keep them pretty much separate until the baby is bigger (he is 22 months now). Even if you have the sweetest dog it is just too easy for accidents to happen around a baby.

Hope this helps - good luck! Anon

Baby gates that still allow the cat access?

June 2005

I'm sure someone else must have dealt with this. We have a very elderly cat and an increasingly mobile baby. We need to get some child-proof gates that the cat will be happy to go through (not just fit through, but also not be intimidated by). Keeping the baby away from the litter box is our top concern, but we also have to figure out what to do with the cat tree. Plus, we have some cute little stairs my partner built to help the cat get up to our bed, but as soon as our baby starts crawling I guess those stairs will have to go. Any tips about particular products you used, or how you configured your house to work for both species, would be much appreciated. new mom

We had similar concerns, with a 16-year-old cat that is not as agile as he once was. We eventually gave up on finding safe toddler gates that the cat could fit through, but it turned out not to be such a problem as we had imagined. We keep our gates all propped open for the cats, except while we are actually trying to contain our toddler in one room or area. If our daughter is in a gated area, then there will be an adult nearby supervising, of course, and if the cat needs to pass through to get to his food or litter or whatever, he will make noise to let us know, and we let him through. Actually, he has on occasion been too impatient to wait and has scrambled over the gates, which rather amazed me; I wouldn't have thought he could still do it. Probably motivated by a little too much ''loving'' from our daughter... Evette

We have two cats and a toddler, so can relate to your situation. We had a bunch of gates installed. In one instance, the bottom of the gate is 4 inches above the floor, which is enough room for the cats to crawl under, but not big enough for a baby to fit. In another instance, we put on some extra long bolts on one side of the gate, which resulted in a four inch gap between the edge of the gate and the wall, again large enough for the cats to fit through, but not a baby. It took a day or so for the cats to figure it out, but haven't had any problems since.

Also, strategically locate your gates. We have the house cordoned off so there is a gate at her room, one at the playroom, and one at the living/dining area. Since the litter box is not in any of those rooms, she can't get to them.

We never had any problem with the cat tree. I'd say just leave it where it is and if your baby doesn't try to climb it, then there's no problem. We tried putting a cat door into the basement and put the cat's food and litter box there, but one of the cats didn't go for that. You can move furniture around, too, to block off areas.

We had someone install the gates ( It wasn't the cheapest route (he charges about $5-$10 more per gate than if you went to Babies R Us), plus his labor. But boy was in convenient and fast. He has all the materials in his van (including the long bolts noted above). Saves you a load of time and multiple trips to the store. Plus he has good ideas on how to set things up.

We had this exact same problem. We called ''the childproofer'' (1-800-374-2525 or, a family-owned business, where they come to your home and completely child-proof it in around an hour for a fairly low fee (I think it used to be $80 plus supplies). They also give helpful suggestions. They installed a gate on our bathroom doorway (where the litterbox is) which was a few inches off of the ground so the cats could slip under it but the baby could not! It works well, and we could not have childproofed the rest of the house without them, either. Good luck!

I searched high and low for a baby gate with a cat/dog door - and couldn't find one - I needed to let the tiny dog have access - but not the big dog or the two year old twins! I finally got out my dremmel tool and cut an opening just big enough for the tiny dog in a plastic tension baby gate. It works perfectly! Paige

Glad to know I'm not the only one trying to balance baby and cat. has a beautiful looking ''pet gate'' which is a doorway gate with a pet opening in it, although pricey at $95. It's only 21'' high but you can install it a few inches off the ground without any problem for your cat. Good luck. Hillary

Aug 2003

How do you childproof without impeding access for a cat? Our twins are only two months, but we're thinking ahead to childproofing. We'll need to use gates for our stairs at the very least, but we have a cat who's not too young (10 years old) and not too skinny (13 lbs). I don't think he could jump over a gate, and he couldn't squeeze through, either. I'd hate to have to put two litterbox/food stations in the house, especially since those are things we'd have to childproof, too! Anyone have any solutions? Wendy

Could you install the gate a few inches off the ground? Enough for the cat to squeeze through but not for a crawling baby (by the time the baby starts crawling he'll be significantly bigger than the cat). We did that in our laundry room, where we keep the litter box, and it's worked well. anon

We faced the same dilemma. We set our safety gates a few inches above the ground (about 5 inches). That way the cats could go under, but the baby could not. With only 5 inches of room I wasn't sure they'd be comfortable going under, but they've had no problem, although our cats are rather small. Liz O.

We have a gate that blocks off our family room, and we were concerned about our cats at first, as well, but they figured out pretty quickly how to jump over it. They started by banking off an ottoman, but eventually figured out how to sail over it without problems. We also have a gate at the top of our stairs that has just enough room for a cat to squeeze underneath, but not enough room for a toddler head or arm to get stuck under. Jill

We had the same issue. What has worked for us, but is not ideal, is that we have a safety gate that we mounted a little higher so that the cats can go under it. They have to squeeze a bit, but we also have older cats, one who is getting slower moving, and they still do OK. I think it would be even better if we blocked the bottom of the gate except a fairly narrow hole just big enough for the cats but small enough so the toddler can't put both legs under there, for fear that he would get his legs and body under but get his head stuck. We also have a door that we can close on the gate so this hasn't been a huge concern but we definitely need to supervise him when the door is open. Anon