10 Cat Safety Tips for the Holidays

a cat playing with Christmas ornaments

While you may be excited to prepare your house for the holidays, are your preparations cat-friendly? Our inquisitive felines may be enticed by the sights, smells, and sounds of the festive season. Cats like investigating new items in their surroundings, particularly ones that are sparkly or stringy. The fragrance of holiday dinners cooking may draw them, but the noises of parties and celebrations may terrify them.

Holiday decorations provide the highest danger of damage to kittens and young or energetic cats. When there is too much disturbance in your house, senior cats may be more prone to stress-induced disease. Fortunately, you may still enjoy the holidays while keeping your cat safe. Follow these guidelines to keep your cat safe during the holidays.

  • 01 of 10

    Christmas Trees

    Cat playing with red Christmas ball

    Imagine your cat's delight when he or she discovers a massive tree filled in cat toys. Christmas trees, however, may be hazardous to cats.

    • Tree water may contain pesticides, fertilizer, and even aspirin or other chemicals. Drinking this water can cause poisoning in cats. Keep tree water covered to prevent drinking; aluminum foil is a good option.
    • Chewing or ingesting ornaments, decorations or artificial tree parts (live or artificial) can cause GI obstruction.
    • Cats can damage trees by climbing them and potentially knocking them over, resulting in injuries to themselves or others. 

    When decorating your tree, keep fragile ornaments and risky decorations out of reach. If your cat still can't manage to stay away from the tree, you may need to keep him away from it when you're not there. Consider putting the Christmas tree in a room that can be closed off simply.

  • 02 of 10

    Ribbons and Tinsel

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    Many cats are drawn to bright or glistening objects. Strings and ribbons are quite popular with cats. It's only natural that your cat would want to play with ribbons, bows, thread, tinsel, and other gift-wrapping accoutrements. The risk is that string-like materials will induce a serious linear foreign body blockage that will necessitate surgery.

    Choose safer alternatives to loose tinsel or other string-like materials. Paper bows or thicker textile ribbons can be used to embellish presents. To adorn your tree and home, use bead garland or thick linen ribbons. Tinsel garland without lengthy strings is probably safe, but keep it out of reach just in case.

  • 03 of 10

    Flowers and Plants

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    Plants and flowers for the holidays might be lovely, but they can also draw an inquisitive kitty. Your cat may do damage to your home by gnawing foliage, knocking over plants and vases, or even using the soil as a litter box! Unfortunately, your cat might find up in the emergency room if it nibbles on plants and flowers.

    Poinsettias are notorious for their toxicity to cats, but the effects are usually moderate. If consumed, holly and mistletoe are more harmful. Lilies and amaryllis are particularly deadly flowers. It's preferable to keep hazardous plants and flowers out of your house entirely. Use non-toxic plants or fake flowers instead of real flowers.

  • 04 of 10

    Candles and Fireplaces

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    For most cats, the warmth of a candle or fireplace is like a dream come true. However, some cats (particularly kittens) may become too near for comfort. If your cat investigates too closely, she may singe her whiskers. Your cat can potentially spark a fire by knocking over a candle.

    Keep candles out of reach of your cat at all times. Never leave a candle or a fireplace unattended. To keep your cat from coming too close to the flames or metal elements of the hearth that might burn fragile paws, use a fireplace shield/guard.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Electrical Cords

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    An extension cable may appear to your cat as simply another string to play with. String lights, which shine, may be even more appealing. Your cat might get burnt or electrocuted if she attempts to play with or chew on electrical cables. Hang lights out of your cat's reach and tighten any loose cables so they don't dangle or slide around on the floor.

  • 06 of 10

    Human Food

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    Cooking for the holidays might attract cats, especially if you're creating a succulent roast. It's perfectly acceptable to give your cat an extra treat over the holidays. Just stay away from stuff that might make your cat ill. Toxic foods like onions, chocolate, and avocados are not appealing to most cats. They may, however, want a cuisine with these elements. Additionally, after eating rich, fatty meals, your cat may have vomiting or diarrhea. High sodium diets can also be harmful to your health. Diarrhea can be caused by dairy products (vets estimate that about half of cats are lactose intolerant).

    While a sliver of lean meat is OK, don't allow your cat eat the pan drippings, drink the gravy, or devour the whipped cream off your leftover pie. Treats should not account for more than 10% of your cat's daily meal consumption.

    If you think your cat has consumed a poisonous food, contact your veterinarian or an animal poison center (fees may apply):

    ASPCA Poison Control (888) 426-4435
    Pet Poison Hotline (800) 213-6680

  • 07 of 10

    Dressing Up

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    There's no denying that cats look gorgeous dressed up in charming tiny clothes. Cats look adorable in Santa hats, elf outfits, sweaters, and knit caps. Unfortunately, your cat may not share your viewpoint. Many cats, especially those with heads, hate wearing clothes or ornaments.

    Make sure you're not causing your cat any undue stress before you start dressing him up for the holidays. For your cat, the holiday season may be stressful enough. Why aggravate the situation by tormenting her with reindeer antlers?

  • 08 of 10

    Houseguests, Noise, and Chaos

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    The holiday season is joyful and full of music and conversation. Many individuals throw parties or have informal gatherings with their friends and family. It's possible that there will be singing and dancing. New Year's Eve is filled with fireworks. All of this may sound amusing to you, but what about your cat?

    Noise is quite irritating to cats. Many people are uncomfortable or shy around strangers. The commotion of the holidays might be stressful for your cat. Make sure your cat has a secure and comfortable area to hide. To keep your cat from escaping, ask guests not to leave doors open. Even better, confine your cat to a room with soft beds, food, drink, and a litter box. Make it clear to visitors that the room is off-limits.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Travel Plans

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    Are you planning to travel during the holidays? If that's the case, what are your plans for your cat? It's usually preferable to keep your cat at home if she isn't used to traveling. Alternatively, take measures to acclimate your cat to automobile travel. Although you may fly with your cat, most owners avoid doing so unless the journey is extensive.

    Decide where your cat will stay if she is not with you. One alternative is to board your cat at a boarding facility, although most cats despise this. Your cat prefers to be with you at home, therefore being alone at home is the next best thing.

    Consider hiring a pet sitter to come to the house at least twice a day to change the litter boxes and put out new food and drink. Many pet sitters will stay a bit longer if your cat requests some lap or playfulness. While you are gone, the pet sitter may even text you daily images of your cat.

  • 10 of 10

    Cats as Gifts

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    Giving someone a cat or kitten as a present may appear to be a kind gesture, but it is not. Once the holiday season has passed and the novelty has worn off, cats given to children may be forgotten. Giving a cat to an adult is quite a challenge. Are you certain the individual wants to take on the burden of owning a cat? What if the individual decided to pick their own cat?

    Cat ownership is a significant milestone for both youngsters and adults. Before you present the gift, be sure the receiver is ready to commit. Give a cat collar or toy as a gift and inform the receiver that after the holidays, you will go together to adopt a cat.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.

CITATION

"Holiday Safety Tips for Cat Owners. VCA Animal Hospitals.", "Disorders of the Stomach and Intestines in Cats. Merck Veterinary Manual.", "Cats and Christmas Trees. Pet Poison Helpline", "Deck the Halls With Holiday Plants – But Are They Toxic? Pet Poison Helpline.", "Panziera, Welden & Schwertz et al. Lily Poisoning in Domestic Cats. Acta Scientiae Veterinari, vol. 47, no. 357, 2019. doi:10.22456/1679-9216.89516", "Winter holiday pet safety. American Veterinary Medical Foundation.", "Nguyen, P. et al. Sodium In Feline NutritionJournal Of Animal Physiology And Animal Nutrition, vol 101, no. 3, 2016, pp. 403-420. doi:10.1111/jpn.12548", "Kornreich, Collins, share 'boos' and don'ts for Halloween pet safety..Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine." ;

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