Despite Garfield's observation, the Christmas season is upon us. And while we all enjoy the trappings and traditions of the holidays, now is also the time to remember that some of the Christmas festivities can be pose a real danger to your cat. Below are practical tips to keep your cat safe during this holiday season.
Ribbons & Bows
You may be tempted to tie a bow around a kitten's neck. It is so cute! But a cat can choke or strangle itself if the ribbon becomes caught on an object. If you must put a ribbon on your cat, do so only while the kitty is being supervised - and only for a short period of time.
In a similar vein, don't leave wrapping ribbons where your cat can get to them. Ribbons seem like a perfect toy from a cat's point of view. Some cats love to chew on ribbons, but if a cat swallows a ribbon, it can become tangled in the digestive tract, and require surgery. If the condition goes unnoticed, it can be lethal. Metallic ribbons can also cut the cat's mouth or tongue.
Mistletoe & Holly
Mistletoe, especially the berries, is very toxic to your cat. Holly is moderately toxic. If you have a cat, think carefully before bringing these holiday greeneries into your home. If you decide to include holly or mistletoe as part of your holiday decor, be sure to keep them completely out of reach of your cat.
The Christmas Tree
A beautifully decorated Christmas tree brings joy to your family - but can endanger your cat health and safety.
If kitty eats a single pine needle, its sharp point can puncture the intestines. Be sure to water your tree adequately and sweep up fallen needles frequently.
A tree decorated with twinkling lights is charming - but if your cat bites down on the cord, it can receive a nasty electrical burn. To prevent a problem try one of these solutions:
- Run all electrical cords through PVC or special piping available at most hardware or electronic stores
- Duct tape the cords to the floor to prevent your cat from chewing on them.
- Spray exposed cords with bitter apple to discourage your cat from mouthing them.
Like ribbons, cats find dangling tinsel and icicles irresistible. But like just like ribbon, tinsel when eaten can also become wound around the intestines and become a lethal condition. The use of tinsel in a cat household is not recommended if the cat has free access to the Christmas tree.
Angel hair can be irritating to your cat's eyes, skin and digestive tract, so use sparingly if at all.
If your cat loves to climb, the Christmas tree will seem like a special exercise gym you have provided just for him! To avoid a mishap, secure your tree to the ceiling with cord and a bolt. If you hear your cat meowing "Timber", you know your tree is in trouble.
Ideally, have your tree in a room you can close off from the cat when you are not at home.
The holidays are a time when there are special foods prepared aplenty. Chocolate, candy canes, pastries, and turkey with all the trimmings—Yum Yum! But, all the goodies are not just bad for your waistline, they can be a serious health hazard to your feline family member.
- Chocolate is toxic to your cat. In fact, chocolate toxicity is the most common poisoning seen in veterinary hospitals during the holidays. For more information on this tasty danger, read the article titled Chocolate and Chocolate Is Bad For Cats.
- Turkey, gravy and ham can all upset your cat's digestive system. And, of course, giving your cat turkey bones is a major no-no as they can splinter in the throat or stomach causing internal injuries.
- Even the foil wrap from a candy can cut the lining of the digestive system if swallowed.
The bottom line is no extra treats for kitty at Christmas unless they are specifically made for a cat :-(.
Extra Note: Be sure to dispose of the turkey carcass in a garbage can with a secure lid. Outdoor cats, feral kitties, stray dogs and raccoons will all be tempted to dig through the garbage to get left-over turkey—and they are as susceptible to the dangers as your own kitty.
The Christmas Gift Kitten
While giving a kitten as a surprise Christmas gift may seem like a good idea, unless you know the recipient very well, it can turn out to be a disaster.
Each year after the holidays are over, kittens (and puppies) are turned into animal shelters in record numbers.
Instead of a new kitten, try giving your cat-loving friend cat toys, beds or accessories. Another great gift idea is a donation to your local shelter or cat rescue group in the recipient's name.
So . . . follow the tips . . .
and here's wishing you and your feline family
a safe and happy holiday season from everyone at