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Holiday Happiness for Cats (Part I)

Baby Denver enjoying his first Christmas!

The holidays are often referred to as the most wonderful time of the year. While most people will agree, the holidays can actually be quite stressful and even dangerous for our feline friends. With so many exciting new toys, like Christmas trees, lights and candles, cats can easily find themselves in precarious situations. As their human parents, it is our duty to make sure we keep them as safe as possible. This is a two-part look at how a little bit of cat proofing can help to provide a safe and happy holiday season for all.

Christmas Trees

Christmas trees are beautiful and we all know how irresistible they are to cats! There are videos of cats terrorizing trees are all over the internet and many are quite funny. As funny as the videos may be, unfortunately, Christmas trees are a big hazard for cats. In addition to containing oils which can cause mouth and stomach irritation in cats, ingesting the actual pine needles can lead to punctures or intestinal obstructions. Cats are quirky and like to drink water from strange places. Water in the tree stand can contain any combination of bacteria, insecticides, pesticides, preservatives, fertilizers and other toxic chemicals that are often fatal to cats and kittens. This can be easily avoided by covering the base of the tree with a cover, some foil or even a tree skirt.

Holiday Plants

Each holiday brings about different types of festive, holiday plants. Some are more poisonous than others, but most plants cause some sort of GI upset when ingested, regardless of toxicity. Poinsettias are probably the one that we hear about most commonly. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, Poinsettias are only mildly toxic. Amaryllis, Mistletoe and Holly are mild to moderately poisonous while the Christmas Rose (Helleborus) and Lilies are quite poisonous. If you suspect your cat has consumed any of these plants or notice any signs of inappetance, drooling, lethargy, vomiting or diarrhea, please contact your veterinarian or emergency clinic immediately!

Holiday Decorations

Between the trees, garland, lights, candles and gifts there’s no prettier time of year than the holiday season. Cats are just as drawn to these things as humans are. They’re pretty hard to resist. Unfortunately, these provide more ways for cats to get themselves into trouble. Christmas trees are a truly enchanting hangout for cats! There are limbs to climb, ornaments to knock around and lights to nibble on. Plastic ornaments are a great idea for those of us with pets (and are getting easier to find). Glass ornaments break easily and can cause cuts or injuries to paws. It’s also a smart idea to anchor the tree to the nearby wall or window. Not only does this keep the you and the cat safe from the fall, but it also helps protect your home from broken ornaments and fire hazards from the all the lights and electrical cords. Speaking of electric cords, they seem to be another cat favorite! Securing and covering electrical cords will help prevent electrocution or electric burns. Playing under the tree can be equally fun, when there’s gifts wrapped with ribbons. When wrapping gifts, try to avoid using curling ribbon and materials that are easy for cats to ingest. If swallowed, ribbon can cause serious issues, including blockage and perforation of the intestinal track. Fireplaces, candles and potpourri are a few more holiday staples that can be unsafe for cats. Not only are cats curious creatures, but they also enjoy being nice and toasty warm. Never leave burning candles or fireplaces unattended as your cat’s curiosity could lead to melted whiskers or even burns. Many cats are quite sensitive to scents and can easily experience breathing difficulties. It is best to avoid using strongly scented candles or potpourri.

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