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7 Holiday Hazards for Your Cat (and How to Avoid Them)

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Full of festive décor, gifts, and food, this time of year offers plenty of excitement for households. Unfortunately, even with this festive spirit, many items that make the holidays merry may also pose a health or safety risk to our cats. Cats caught up in the holiday excitement are often prone to accidents that can be prevented.

In this article, we highlight some common cat holiday hazards along with several tips to ensure extra vigilance and avoid such risks so that both you and your cat enjoy a safe and festive holiday season.

1. Christmas Trees

Christmas trees are an essential festive part of many holiday homes, but they can pose a real danger for cats. If you have a live tree, keep treated water out of reach of your cat. If they decide to drink it, it can cause uncomfortable gastrointestinal side effects.

Watch that your cat doesn’t ingest pine needles that can choke, puncture, and cause stomach discomfort. Go for Christmas trees with pet-friendly pliable needles and if purchasing an artificial tree, look for one that is fire resistant.

Additionally, keep your tree stable and sturdy and away from any adjacent furniture that could be used as a ladder. Automated spray repellents are your friend in helping you keep your cat away from the tree. Latticework fences around the base of the tree will also prevent most cats from climbing up the tree. Lastly, avoid hanging real candles or glass ornaments on the tree and ensure you turn off the tree lights before going to bed or leaving the house.

2. Holiday Plants

Lilies, Holly berries, mistletoe, Jerusalem cherry plants, and other common holiday plants are beautiful decorations that brighten your home with the holiday spirit. However, these plants also contain substances that are highly toxic to cats and other pets. Keep them out of reach or out of your home. Should you notice plant poisoning symptoms, including nausea, rash, vomiting, and diarrhea, then call your vet or the Animal Poison Control right away.

3. Decorations

Shiny tinsel, ribbons as well as other sparkly ornaments and decorations are appealing to cats. As a general rule, if it’s small enough to fit in your cat’s mouths, do not use them. Moreover, fragile glass ornaments can break easily and cause cuts. Keep all of these potentially dangerous decorations high on the tree, or better yet, skip them altogether.

4. Holiday Foods

Holidays tend to center food as a big theme, but that can mean trouble for unsupervised cats. Why? Most human foods toxic to cats, including chocolate, sugary desserts, medicine, etc., are commonly served during the Christmas season. Ingestion of such foods can cause life-threatening cases for your cat.

Inform your guests and family not to be tempted to share their delicacies with your cat. To be safe, keep some cat-safe treats available so that you or your guests can safely treat your pet while you treat yourselves. Additionally, avoid leaving open bowls of food/snacks, drinks, or leftovers where a curious cat can access them. Also, keep garbage secure and dispose of carcasses and bones carefully and away from cats.

5. Fires and Candles

Cozy fireplaces, flames, and the glow of candles create the perfect ambiance for unforgettable holiday memories. For your playful and curious kitty, however, they can pose a serious risk. Keep flammable objects away from the fire while keeping candles/flames out of reach where your cat cannot knock them over or brush past. On the same, candleholders have a sturdy base. Always use a secure fireplace screen and never leave a fire or candles unattended with your feline.

6. Cords

Cords are a common sighting in many homes during the holidays. However, severe accidents can result if your chewing cat accidentally chews a plugged electric cable. Keep cords away from chewing cats by using cord protectors, taping them to walls, or hiding them under carpets, behind furniture, or under a tree skirt. Besides, you can use taste deterrents or indoor repellents to keep your cat from chewing cords. 

7. Gifts

What are the holidays without presents wrapped under the tree? Ensure your cat’s safety by keeping certain gifts out of sight. Edible gifts such as those containing chocolate, candies, liquor, or baking can be toxic to cats and should be kept away from the reach of cats. Besides, keep scented gifts that might be mistaken for food tucked safely away. Gift accessories, including ribbons, bows, and wrapping paper, should be kept away as they can cause harm if ingested by your cat.

In truth, the holidays can be thrilling for cats, and they can sometimes be reckless, curious, and unpredictable, faced with excitement. However, the good news is that taking the simple steps highlighted above can help you stave off disaster — and sensibly respond if something goes wrong. 

Happy Holidays!

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