Holiday Safety Tips
Tinsel is a pretty decoration on the Christmas tree and in your home, but it can be very dangerous to cats if ingested. It can get wrapped around the base of your cat’s tongue with the end trailing into the stomach. As it moves through the digestive tract it can cut the intestines or even cause a blockage in the intestines which would require emergency surgery to have it removed. A similar problem can also happen if cats ingest bows and ribbons from presents.
Some cats don’t pay any attention to the Christmas tree, others think it is the neatest new toy. The following tips will help you keep your cat (and your Christmas Tree) safe this holiday season:
- Some cats like to climb the tree which may knock it over and may injure your cat. Secure the tree to the ceiling or wall to keep it from falling over.
- Many cats enjoy swatting the ornaments off the tree. If ornaments break, the cat may step on, chew or eat the broken pieces and the wire hangers and become injured or sick (and may even require surgery). Use unbreakable ornaments and hang them with small loops of cloth or string. Also don’t hang any ornaments on the lowest branches of the tree.
- Some cats may also want to chew on the holiday lights or extension cords, which may cause an electrical shock or mouth laceration. Hang lights out of reach and use cord protectors to cover the cords.
- Some cats think that the Christmas tree water is the newest and greatest water bowl in the house. It is not good for them to drink the water since it may cause stomach upset due to preservatives, bacteria and pine residue. Use a cat-proof cover on the tree stand to keep the cats out of the water.
- To keep your cat from messing with the tree, try spraying the low tree branches with bitter cat-proofing spray (i.e. Bitter Apple) or a citrus-scented spray. You may also try hanging orange peels or citrus-scented air fresheners on the lower branches to dissuade you cat. Many cats do not like citrus scents.
Several popular holiday plants can also be harmful to your cat. Poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe can cause nausea, excessive salivation, vomiting and diarrhea if they are ingested. Plants from the Lily family (i.e. Tiger, Asiatic, Stargazer, Easter and Daylilies) can be very dangerous to your cat. Even ingesting only one to two Lily leaves or flower petals can cause sudden kidney failure. It is best to keep all of these plants out of your cat’s reach or out of your house altogether.
Some foods and treats that we may enjoy during the holiday season may not be good for your cat. They include:
- Onions and Garlic – they can damage your cat’s red blood cells and cause your cat to become anemic
- Nuts, especially macadamia nuts – they can cause muscle weakness and tremors
- Chocolate – it is a nervous system stimulant and can cause seizures, heart arrhythmias and the loss of body fluids
- Cooked bones from turkeys – it can splinter and perforate your cat’s digestive tract, and fatty meat scraps (i.e. from hams) – they can cause pancreatitis in cats
- Alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and can affect cats quickly. It can cause dangerous drops in blood glucose, blood pressure and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure.
A few other holiday items that may be harmful to your cat:
- Snowglobes, especially imported snowglobes – recently, imported snowglobes were found to contain antifreeze – which can be fatal to your cat.
- Liquid potpourri – if you use scented oils in a simmer pot, and if they are ingested by your cat, they can cause severe chemical burns in your cat’s mouth, along with fever, difficulty breathing and tremors.
- Candles – cats may be drawn to a lit candle’s light and if they play with it, that may lead to burns on your cat, or if it is knocked over, it may lead to a fire.
We at the Cat Hospital wish you and your cat(s) a safe, and happy holiday season!!