Like all kids, cats love the holidays. One of the highlights each year for me is seeing the reactions of our cats when the Christmas tree, ornaments, lights, and all the other decorations come out. Their eyes light up as they insist on getting right in the middle of everything!
While cats make the holidays even sweeter, it’s a time when we have to pay close attention to potential dangers for our little ones. Many of the following definitely fall under the heading “common sense,” but we all get so busy this time of year, sometimes we need a few reminders. Our cats lives are definitely worth the extra time it takes to read over cat safety tips, so let’s have at it.
- Even though it’s tempting to give our cats “special treats” such as ham, turkey, whipping cream, icing, etc during the holidays, come up with a better plan. Buy special Cat Treats and dole them out instead. Cat’s insides are very, very special and they simply can’t process the food that we’re able to process. Why take chances, right?
- Make certain your Christmas tree is VERY secure and stable. Many cats like to climb them (Prissy always did!) and the last thing you want is the tree toppling down on top of your cat.
- If you have a live tree, be sure your cat doesn’t drink from the water. Cover it in some fashion. Stagnate water is a health hazard, for one thing, and for another who knows what kind of chemicals or fertilizers could transfer from the tree into the water. This water could make your cat very sick at best and could prove poisonous at worst.
- If you have cats (or dogs or small children for that matter) in your house, you’d be better off avoiding tinsel altogether. Cats find tinsel completely irresistible – so shiny and easy to play with! However, tinsel easily gets into their digestive tract and can cause obstruction (which requires surgery and a great amount of pain for your cat).
- Tissue paper, popular for putting in gift bags, is something else that cats can get into their digestive system, which would then wreak havoc. If you use tissue paper, make certain it’s closed up tightly within the bag and be sure to throw it all away immediately upon opening.
- Beware of long ribbons as well. Cats can get them wrapped around their necks, creating a choking risk. They’ve also been known to get these ribbons stuck in their throats.
- Never leave burning candles unattended, for obvious reasons.
- Anything that involves burning oil, melted wax, or flames is simply too risky. Potpourri pots can EASILY be pulled down by a cat who is either attacking the cord or simply running from one place to another. Again, it’s just not worth the risk.
- Cats LOVE gift bags – the bright, fun, “crinkly” bags spell GOOD TIMES to an inquisitive little girl or boy! I always leave a few lying around for Alexa, much to her delight. However, I make certain that the strings are unattached – the larger bags are especially dangerous (the ribbon loops look like little nooses!).
- I already mentioned “treats,” but this one merits its own mention: Chocolate is a huge NO NO for cats (dogs too). Chocolate can poison a cat, plain and simple. Also, make certain your cats never eat anything containing xylitol. Again, what’s the best way to make sure your cat doesn’t digest food that’ll harm her? Feed her only cat treats and cat food. Also, remember that just because you don’t hand it to your cat doesn’t mean she can’t get to it! Keep candy and all other foods out of your cat’s reach.
- No doubt you (like me) fill your cat’s stocking with toys and special treats. Make sure the toys, themselves, are safe. It’s always best to buy specially made cat toys because you pretty much know for certain they won’t contain poisonous paint or harmful parts. Cat toy manufacturers have a lot of codes they have to live up to and that always makes me feel safer. Remember that long, stringy toys can cause a lot of nightmares, as can small parts that can come off and lodge in your cat’s throat or intestines.
- Make sure no turkey or ham bones are given to your cat and be sure they’re disposed of properly.
- Keep Holly (the plant, not a relative!) out of the home. Holly can cause pets to suffer needlessly with nausea and diarrhea.
- Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal upset as well as cardiovascular problems.
- Many lilies lead to kidney failure and death for cats. Why take any chances? Buy artificial plants and keep your cat safe and healthy.
- If there’s a lot of commotion, noise, and guests, some cats may want to retreat to another room for some much needed peace and relaxation. If this is the case, be certain they have their essentials nearby: Litter box, water, food, and a comfortable place to sleep. If your cat does seek refuge, don’t try to coax her out – she’ll come out when she feels ready.
Finally, remember three facts that are essential for cat health and safety:
- Cats are small children in fur coats. Everything is a toy and everything is a game. Like children, they cannot discern what is safe and what isn’t. It’s up to us. To keep them safe, we have to think like they do and look at the world from their viewpoint. Seek out anything that poses a threat to your cat and remove the danger.
- Cats are perhaps the most emotionally in-tuned animal in the world. They’re like emotional sponges, as one vet put it. They pick up on our moods as well as the excitement going on around them. Sometimes the chaos and excitement will cause them to act differently than normal. They may sleep more, may be cranky, or may need more of your attention and reassurance.
- Cats aren’t wild about change. They crave consistency and want their little world to pretty much stay the same. Same feeding schedule, same play time, same “couch time,” and same television routine! Cats feel stress and nothing causes them to stress out quite like change, so keep things as normal as you possibly can during the holidays. Also, cats HATE sharing their parents with other people or situations. They want their mom and dad’s attention and feel distress when they feel that someone or something else is taking any of this attention away from them. If children (or Heaven forbid other pets!) come into your home during the holidays, be sure to reassure your cat(s) and involve them in everything you possibly can.
I hope you and your cats have a fun, safe, and wonderful Christmas and holiday season! I’ll be adding more cat lovers gift ideas, cat toys, and cat ornaments – so watch for them.