The holidays are a joyous time of year -- but with all the new and exciting holiday decorations and activities, curious kitties can get themselves into a lot of trouble! To make sure the holidays are happy and safe for everyone, please read the following tips:
Christmas Trees We all know kitties love to climb, and what better temptation than an indoor tree!
- To reduce the risk of a Christmas tree disaster, anchor your tree to the ceiling or wall using an eye hook and some wire or string.
- Thirsty kitties may see the tree water as an ideal new dish, but tree water can contain fertilizers and bacteria that might lead to stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea.
- For cats that enjoy greenery, the Christmas tree might look like a yummy snack. To discourage nibbling, try mixing something distasteful (such as peppermint oil or Tabasco) in a spray bottle with some water and lightly coat the lower branches.
- Make sure any ornaments on the lower branches are cat-friendly and unbreakable, and it's a good idea to use cloth loops instead of wire hooks for the lower ornaments as well.
- Candles Open flames can be disastrous! Never leave a burning candle unattended.
- Tinsel Long, shiny metallic strands of tinsel can get lodged in the digestive tract and must be removed surgically.
- Christmas lights Chewing on bulbs and cords can cause electrocution.
- Ribbons - long, skinny curling ribbon on presents can cause the same sorts of problems as tinsel, potentially getting lodged in the GI tract and requiring surgery to remove. Take extra caution with gifts that are left unattended under the tree.
Holiday Plants Plants can be a lovely way to make your home festive, but make sure you check whether a plant is cat-safe before bringing it into your home. Many kitties like to nibble on plants here and there, and that kind of behavior is normal. However, some holiday plants are extremely toxic to kitties and can result in severe illness or death. See a complete list of toxic plants on the ASPCA website.
- Poinsettias Contrary to myth, poinsettias are only mildly toxic to cats, but as with many plants ingestion can cause mild GI upset and vomiting.
- Lilies Any kind of lily is dangerous! Lilies can cause severe kidney failure in cats. In general you should never, ever bring any kind of lily into a house with a cat.
- Mistletoe This plant can cause GI upset and, in extreme cases, cardiovascular problems or death.
- Holly The holly berry can cause vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, lethargy and death.
- Try using artificial plants as a safe alternative in your holiday arrangements.
- Chocolate Dark and unsweetened chocolate are the most dangerous. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, hyperactivity and seizures.
- Onions and onion powder May cause hemolytic anemia, vomiting and weakness.
- Coffee Grounds or whole beans can cause excitability, seizures and GI upset.
- Alcohol Alcohol toxicity can cause excitement, depression, increased urination, slowed respiratory rate, cardiac arrest or even death.
- Poultry chicken and turkey bones can splinter easily and damage or even perforate your kitty's mouth and GI tract.
- Candy sticks/wrappers Lollipop sticks can get stuck in the throat or bowels, and candy wrappers are often made of small bits of foil or cellophane which, if ingested, can become lodged in the digestive tract.
Parties/Houseguests Many of us throw holiday parties, or have houseguests for the holidays.
- New people, especially in large groups, can cause your kitty a lot of stress. Preparing a special place for him in your bedroom or another quiet room with food, water, litterpan and some place for them to hide if needed can be a good way to reduce your cat's stress level.
- Make sure your guests know the rules about any areas of the house that may be off-limits for your kitty, or whether your cat is allowed outdoors, so there are no accidents.
- Just in case your cat does accidentally get outside, make sure she has on a safety collar with the proper identification and current rabies tag.
In case of accidental ingestion, get your cat to a veterinarian immediately! The Animal Emergency Clinic of Cary will be open over the holidays while we are closed. You can reach them at:
Animal Emergency Clinic of Cary
220 High House Road
Cary, NC 27513
In case of accidental ingestion, you can also call the
Animal Poison Control Center hotline at (888) 426-4435.