You may be eager to get your home ready for the holiday season, but are your plans cat-friendly? The sights, scents and sounds of the holiday season can be tempting to our curious felines. Cats love to explore novel objects in the environment, especially those that are shiny or stringy. They may be attracted to the smells of holiday meals cooking or scared by the sounds of parties and events.
Kittens and young or playful cats are at the greatest risk of injury due to holiday decorations. Senior cats may be more prone to stress-induced illness when there is too much chaos going on in your home. Fortunately, you can still enjoy holiday celebrations while protecting your cat. Follow these tips to keep your cat safe from holiday dangers.
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Imagine your cat's excitement when he or she sees a huge tree covered in what looks like cat toys. Unfortunately, Christmas trees can be dangerous to cats.
- Tree water may contain pesticides, fertilizer, and even aspirin or other chemicals. Drinking this water can cause poisoning in cats. Keep tree water covered to prevent drinking; aluminum foil is a good option.
- Chewing or ingesting ornaments, decorations or artificial tree parts (live or artificial) can cause GI obstruction.
- Cats can damage trees by climbing them and potentially knocking them over, resulting in injuries to themselves or others.
Keep fragile ornaments and dangerous decorations out of reach when decorating your tree. If your cat still can't seem to resist the tree, you may need to keep your cat away from this area when you are not home. Consider putting up the Christmas tree in a room that can easily be closed off.
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Ribbons and Tinsel
Many cats are unable to resist something shiny or sparkly. Tons of cats go nuts for strings and ribbons. It's only natural that your cat will want to play with decorations and gift wrap accessories like ribbons, bows, string, tinsel, etc. The danger in this is that string-like materials can cause a dangerous linear foreign body obstruction that requires surgery.
Avoid using loose tinsel or other string-like materials and opt for safer items. You can decorate gifts with paper bows or thicker cloth ribbons. Use garland made from beads or thick cloth ribbons to decorate your tree and home. The tinsel garland that does not contain long strings may be safe, but hang it out of reach just to be safe.
03 of 10
Flowers and Plants
Holiday plants and flowers can look nice in your home, but they can also attract a curious feline. At the very least, your cat may cause damage by chewing leaves, knocking over pots or vases, or even using the soil as a litter box! Unfortunately, nibbling plants and flowers could send your cat to the emergency vet.
Poinsettias are known for their toxicity to cats, but they tend to have only mildly toxic effects. Holly and mistletoe are more dangerous if ingested. Flowers such as lilies and amaryllis are especially dangerous. It's best to completely keep toxic plants and flowers out of your home. Choose non-toxic plants or use silk flowers instead.
04 of 10
Candles and Fireplaces
The warmth of a candle or fireplace is like a dream come true for most cats. However, some cats (especially kittens) may get too close to stay safe. Your cat may singe her whiskers if she explores too closely. Your cat can also knock over a candle and cause a fire.
Always keep candles out of reach of your cat. Never leave candles or fireplaces burning unsupervised. Use a fireplace shield/guard to prevent your cat from getting too close to the flames or metal parts of the hearth that can burn tender paws.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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To your cat, an extension cord might look like just another string to play with. String lights may be even more tempting since they sparkle. If your cat tries to play with or chew on electrical cords, she could end up getting burned or electrocuted. Hang lights out of reach of your cat and secure loose cords so they don't dangle or slide on the floor.
06 of 10
The aroma of holiday cooking can attract cats, especially if you are making a juicy roast. You may want to give your cat an extra treat during the holidays, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Just make sure to avoid foods that can make your cat sick. Most cats are not interested in eating toxic foods like onions, chocolate, and avocados. However, they may crave a dish that contains these ingredients. Also, your cat can develop vomiting or diarrhea after consuming rich, fatty foods. High sodium foods can cause health problems as well. Dairy products may cause diarrhea (vets estimate that about half of cats are lactose intolerant).
While it's okay to offer a little sliver of lean meat, avoid letting your cat feast on the pan drippings, drink the gravy or eat the whipped cream off your leftover pie. Make sure treats make up no more than 10 percent of your cat's daily food intake.
If you think your cat has consumed a poisonous food, contact your veterinarian or an animal poison center (fees may apply):
ASPCA Poison Control (888) 426-4435
Pet Poison Hotline (800) 213-6680
07 of 10
There's no arguing that cats look adorable when they are dressed up in cute little outfits. Santa hats, elf costumes, sweaters and knit caps all look irresistibly cute on cats. Unfortunately, your cat may not see things the same way. Many cats despise wearing clothing or accessories, especially on their heads.
Before you start dressing up your cat this holiday season, make sure you are not creating unnecessary stress. The holiday season can be hectic enough for your cat. Why make things worse by torturing her with those reindeer antlers?
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Houseguests, Noise, and Chaos
The holiday season is festive and filled with music and chatter. Many people have parties or small get-togethers with friends and family. There may even be singing and dancing. New Year's Eve has fireworks. All this may seem like fun to you, but what does your cat think?
Cats are highly sensitive to noise. Many are shy or nervous around strangers. The general chaos of the holiday season can stress out your cat. Make sure you provide a safe, comfortable place for your cat to hide. Ask guests not to leave doors open so your cat won't get out. Better yet, close your cat in a comfortable room with soft beds, food, water, and a litter box. Make sure guests know the room is off-limits.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Will you travel during the holidays? If so, what is the plan for your cat? If your cat is not accustomed to traveling, it's probably best to leave her behind. Or, take steps to get your cat used to car travel. You may be able to fly with your cat, but most owners avoid this unless the trip is long-term.
If your cat isn't coming with you, decide where she will stay. A boarding facility is one option, but this is also something most cats dislike. Your cat wants to be at home with you, so being home alone is the next best option.
Consider finding a pet sitter who will visit the house at least twice a day to put out fresh food and water and scoop the litter boxes. Many pet sitters will stick around for a little in case your cat wants some lap time or playtime. Your pet sitter may even text you daily pictures of your cat while you are away.
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Cats as Gifts
Giving someone a cat or kitten as a gift may seem like a sweet gesture, but it's a bad idea. Cats given to children may be forgotten once the holiday season passes and the novelty wears off. Giving a cat to an adult is asking quite a lot. Are you sure the person wants to take on the responsibility of cat ownership? What if the person wanted to choose their cat?
Becoming a cat owner is a serious step for both children and adults. Be sure the recipient is ready for the commitment before you give the gift. Better yet, give a cat collar or toy as a gift and tell the recipient that you will go together to adopt a cat after the holidays are over.
Cats and Christmas Trees. Pet Poison Helpline
Deck the Halls With Holiday Plants – But Are They Toxic? Pet Poison Helpline
Winter holiday pet safety. American Veterinary Medical Foundation
Nguyen, P. et al. Sodium In Feline Nutrition. Journal Of Animal Physiology And Animal Nutrition, vol 101, no. 3, 2016, pp. 403-420. Wiley, doi:10.1111/jpn.12548
Kornreich, Collins, share 'boos' and don'ts for Halloween pet safety. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine