Keep Your Cat Safe for the Holidays


Photo by Soybeck

My husband always remembers his first Christmas with his kitten, Tigger: Paul walked into the living room one morning and met him eyeball to eyeball up in the tree.

It’s the most wonderful time of year — for many of us. However, it could be filled with hazards for your resident feline.

Before you deck the halls, check your decorations.

First the tree, representative of the great outdoors. What indoor feline wouldn’t be tempted to climb it? Secure the tree to the ceiling with an eye hook and wire. If your cat has a tendency to chew on electrical cords, coat them with hot sauce or bitter apple. Make sure the water in the tree stand is covered up and inaccessible—the tar from the tree and any preservatives can be toxic. Place fabric, wooden, or plastic ornaments on the lower branches and hang fragile ones higher up. At least if the unbreakable ones are batted around, you won’t be in danger of loosing a family heirloom.

Holiday greenery such as poinsettias, holly (and its berries), and mistletoe should be kept from feline contact. Even if they’re not deathly poisonous, they may cause intestinal upsets or irritations in the mouth.

Decorations are full of potential hazards for cats. Avoid using tinsel, garlands, artificial snow, and angel hair. They can all cause intestinal upsets and serious damage if ingested. Ribbon can also cause damage if chewed. Stray ornament hooks can be stepped on by little paws.  Candlelight adds warmth and beauty to the holidays, but don’t leave lighted candles unattended — you know about curiosity and the cat. Cats seek out the warmth of fireplaces and wood stoves, so make sure there is no opportunity for singed fur or whiskers.

Other hazards can be found in various holiday foods, such as turkey bones and strings from roasts in the garbage. Chocolate is toxic to cats, and alcohol is definitely not the beverage of choice.

Watch out for open doors and company — if your cat has a tendency to scoot out of open doors or is fearful, close her in a secure room with her litter box, toys and some soothing music until the coast is clear.

Winter in general brings its own set of safety issues.

Your own cat may be an inside-only cat, but watch out for visitors who may seek the warmth of your car engine; its fan belts can inflict serious damage or death. An online video just this week told the story of a kitty whose face was stitched up by a caring veterinarian after such an encounter. If you suspect that your car is a refuge, thump on the hood before you get in as a precaution. Drips from anti-freeze and petroleum products if ingested can cause rapid kidney failure. Anti-freeze, with its sweet taste, is particularly deadly. Use one of the pet-friendly ones on the market. Keep your cats away from poisonous traps for rodents. De-icers, such as salt, used on sidewalks and driveways are also poisonous and may irritate paw pads. Read the labels before using those products.

This may sound like a long list of don’ts, but many of these precautions are ones you would take if you have a toddler or child. Because your cat is a part of your family, she deserves all the same protection. So amid all the holiday madness, makes sure you spend some special time with her.

For some really cute photos of kitties in Christmas trees, click here.

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About ExclusivelyCats
Sally Bahner is an expert in all aspects of cat care: Writer, consultant, speaker, instructor.

One Response to Keep Your Cat Safe for the Holidays

  1. Jennifer McConnell says:

    Great advice for this time of year!

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