The holiday season may be fun for humans, but can be dangerous for cats. During Christmas, there is an influx of new things and people to the house.
A Christmas tree, decorations, plants, unusual foods, presents. All of these create a temptation for our cats and may be a hidden danger.
Below, let’s have a look at common hazards that endanger your cat during the holiday season and tips on how to keep your cat safe during Christmas.
Also, read our tips on how to cat-proof a Christmas tree.
1. Pine Needles
Pine needles can be very damaging to your cat because they are sharp and when digested they can puncture or obstruct your cat’s intestines.
They are also toxic which may cause nausea, vomiting, drooling and skin irritation.
Although artificial trees are not free from hazards, it’s better to choose an artificial tree to avoid potential problems with pine needles.
If you choose to go with a live tree make sure you vacuum frequently so that you reduce the number of pine needles lying around the floor.
2. Tree Water
You should never let your cat drink water from the base of the Christmas tree.
Water that nourishes the Christmas tree contains chemicals, fertilizer, mold and bacteria that are toxic to cats and can make your cat very sick with just a few sips of this noxious water.
Cover and block off the access to the tree water so that your cat cannot drink it.
3. Tinsel, Ribbon and Twine
For us, tinsel (angel hair) is a beautiful finishing touch to our Christmas tree, but for a cat, it’s a perfect shiny toy which can easily end up in her stomach.
Tinsel, ribbon and twine, when digested, can be easily tangled in your cat’s intestines and result in a blockage.
If you really have to decorate your tree with tinsel, try hanging it high up the tree, so that your cat cannot reach it.
4. Glass Ornaments
Glass ornaments are easily breakable. When broken, they can easily cut and hurt your cat.
To keep your cat safe, it’s best to stick to ornaments made of plastic, wood or fabric.
Try placing the ornaments higher on the tree, so that your cat cannot easily swat at them.
5. Collapsing Tree
Cats are natural climbers. When your cat sees a Christmas tree, be it live or artificial, with all its decorations, lights and hanging baubles, she will naturally like to jump on the tree and play with all its ornaments.
If a tree collapses, it might seriously injure your cat. To reduce the risk of a tree tipping over your cat, anchor it to the walls and/or the ceiling with a clear fishing line and small hooks.
The fishing line is very strong and not visible so it should secure the tree if your cat climbs on it. The small hooks won’t be much noticeable too, but invaluable to avoid the tree collapsing.
Also, try placing the tree away from any furniture that could serve as a springboard from which your cat can easily jump on the tree.
6. Poisonous Plants
Many people don’t realize that many popular Christmas plants that we adorn our houses during the holiday season are poisonous to cats.
Poinsettia, holly, Christmas lily and mistletoe are all plants toxic to cats.
Poinsettia while not critically dangerous, may cause nausea and vomiting.
Holly can cause vomiting, diarrhea and depression.
Mistletoe can cause vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing and low heart rate.
Lilies can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation.
If you decide to get any of these plants home, place them out of your cat’s reach. If you know that your cat loves chewing on plants, better play it safe and don’t bring any of these plants to home at all.
7. Lights and Wires
If a cat chews on the wire it can cause a thermal burn or even electrocution.
If possible try placing the wires under the carpet to minimize your cat’s temptation to play and chew on them.
Additionally, cats can get hurt by sharp edges from broken lights.
Always unplug your tree lights when you go to bed or while you’re away from home to avoid electrocution and fire hazard.
8. Candles and Fireplace
If you have an open fireplace always supervise your cat when she is around it. Your cat’s fur could catch on fire easily if she gets too close to the fireplace.
To avoid the risk, put a barrier off the fireplace with a screen or buy an artificial fireplace with fake flames.
Candles can be very dangerous if your cat strokes one on the floor. If that happened it could set your whole house on fire.
Better avoid lighting up the candles when having a cat around.
9. Festive Costumes
Dressing up your cat in a cute holiday costume may be fun for you, but it certainly is not fun for a cat. In fact, depending on a cat, it is stressful or even a traumatic experience.
Cats hate having their bodies and movements restrained, so know that dressing up your cat may be a terrible ordeal for her.
If you really insist on dressing up your cat in a costume, for example, to take a photo, don’t leave her in that costume for too long and without supervision.
If your cat stays too long in a costume, she will start trying to get off it and the costume might get tangled around her body, which could even choke your cat.
Also, avoid costumes that cover a cat’s eyes or ears. It may disorient them.
10. Guests and Visitors
If you invite guests to your home you should be mindful of both guests and your cat.
A guest might be allergic to a cat’s hair so you should inform everyone that you invite that you have a cat.
Before the visit, make sure to clean your house as much as possible from your cat’s hair so your guests have a pleasurable experience.
On the other side, a cat can get very stressed when strangers invade her space.
If you have a stressed and wary cat, try to find her a peaceful place in the house where she can stay safely isolated from the people.
11. Cat as a Gift
A Christmas gift for a cat is a great and cute idea, but not all the way around.
A lot of people come up with the idea of giving someone a cat as a Christmas present.
That’s a terrible idea if the person who is supposed to be gifted a cat doesn’t know anything about that.
Having a cat, dog or any other pet is a lifetime choice and should never be forced upon anyone without their knowledge and consent.
Unexpected pets as Christmas gifts almost always end up abandoned, killed, euthanized or in the shelter.
12. Seek Help Immediately
If your cat got injured or you think that she got poisoned, call your vet or poison control immediately. They will tell you what to do to help your cat and minimize the damage.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Number is (888) 426-4435. You can call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.