With the holidays approaching, it’s time to think not only about celebrating, but also about cat safety. Any changes in a cat’s regular routine – a home suddenly filled with new scents, sounds and strangers -- may send even the least “scaredy-cat” cats scampering for cover.
Be conscious of and careful about the plants you bring into your home. Despite their obvious beauty, HOLLY, MISTLETOE and POINSETTIA are toxic to cats and should be kept out of reach, while a single leaf from any variety of LILY is lethal. The oils of a CHRISTMAS TREE can irritate their mouths and stomachs, causing vomiting, while the prickly needles are hazardous to their entire GI tracts.
To err on the side of caution, consider buying an artificial tree and artificial plants instead.
Consider next the breakable ornaments and dangling tinsel, shiny ribbons and artificial snow, ropes of small lights and flickering candles. All eye-catching eye candy to curious cats with batting paws, small, sharp teeth and swishing tails.
Hang delicate ornaments higher on the tree and resist placing any in decorative bowls on low surfaces. Not only can cats choke on them, but the sharp edges of any broken pieces can lacerate their mouths, throats and intestines. Drape tinsel higher on the tree as well, and keep ribbons on gifts underneath the tree to a minimum. If tinsel or ribbons are swallowed, they can twist and bunch inside a cat’s intestines, causing serious, sometimes fatal damage if not caught quickly enough.
Artificial snow is toxic and should be avoided at all costs. Lights, large and small, solid and flickering are another danger, not only because they are hot and breakable, but because of the electrical cords holding them together. If bitten, they can cause electrical shock if not properly grounded, and if frayed, they can cause severe lacerations to your cat’s tongue.
Place all lighted candles out of reach to reduce the risk of singed fur and pads, paws and tails, and lower the chance of them being tipped over, leaving burning wax everywhere or worse, starting a fire.
As appetizing as holiday fare is for humans, it can prove agonizing, even lethal for cats. The most notorious offenders are chocolate, nuts, fruitcakes, puddings, mince pies, blue cheese and onions, all of which can be toxic. And take special care to keep turkey bones out your curious cat’s way, since they can cause everything from choking and constipation to intestinal damage.
And so, with some strategic planning beforehand, you and your cat can be assured of spending the happiest and safest of holidays together.