10 Tips for a Safe and Cat-Friendly Christmas
Category: Cat Ownership
Christmas should be a joyful time for everyone - including our feline fur babies! To-do lists can seem never-ending this time of year. No matter how busy we are juggling holiday preparations, we must keep our cats' safety and well-being in mind during all the hustle and bustle.
These ten tips for keeping your cat safe during the holiday season will help ensure that they enjoy Christmas as much as you do.
1. Tree Tips
First and foremost, the tree itself must be safe and secure so that it won't fall over if your cat decides to climb it. Buy a heavy base or attach weights to the bottom of the one you have. Alternatively, you can tie the tree to the wall or ceiling or bind the top to something secure. Discourage climbing behavior whenever you see it by distracting them with an exciting toy instead.
2. Bauble Basics
Do not hang "icicles" or similar string-like decorations on your tree. Tinsel can cause severe blockages if ingested. Opt for wooden or plastic ornaments when possible. Glass ornaments can easily shatter if they get knocked off the tree, and your kitty could end up with painful cuts in their paws by walking on the shards. Securely attach all decorations to the tree and don't place any of them close to the bottom. If consumed, small parts can become dangerously lodged in a cat's digestive tract.
3. The Lowdown on Lights
Be sure to keep lights out of paws' reach. Exposed wires can be a problem, especially for curious kittens. Electrical cables will need to be covered to stop them from being chewed if you have younger cats or if your older kitty never outgrew the "chewies" phase. Better still, unplug them when you're unable to supervise your cat. If you're always leaving your lights on, battery-powered options are much safer than electric ones. Ensure that the batteries are fresh so they do not leak harmful acid.
4. Nix the Needles
Keep the vacuum handy and pick up needles as soon as possible. Fallen needles from trees could puncture your cat's gastrointestinal system if swallowed. Fir tree needles may produce oils that irritate a cat's mouth and stomach. However, it is unlikely for your cat to consume enough to cause a problem. A choking hazard is the most likely concern. Resist the temptation to spray fake snow on the tree, as it is usually toxic and could easily be consumed.
5. Divide and Conquer
If your cat seems determined to interact with the tree or decorations in a way that puts them at risk, consider keeping them out of the room with the tree. In addition to keeping your cat safe, keeping your tree, decorations, guests, and activities contained within one room will give your cat room to relax and escape to the familiarity of the rest of the house during festivities. If the tree is not the problem, an anxiety-quelling alternative is to give your cat a designated safe space and close them up during the big day.
6. Feline-friendly Festive Decor
Make sure other decorations in your home are also cat-friendly. Consider the perennial holiday favorite - snow globes. In addition to the threat of broken glass, you may be surprised to learn that snow globes contain ethylene glycol, or antifreeze, which is highly toxic to cats. Common plants used as decor during the season can prove dangerous for cats. For instance, poinsettia, holly, mistletoe, amaryllis, and certain ferns are toxic to cats. (We've got a lot more information about poisonous plants here.)
7. Facts on Felines and Food
Some foods common to entrees served during the holidays are poisonous to cats, including onions, garlic, raisins, grapes, and alcohol. Be sure to put away any candy received in stockings as chocolate is also toxic to cats; although they have to eat a considerable amount to experience any effect, it is still best kept out of their reach. (Check out our recent post, Food Safety for Cats: The Holidays and Every Day, to learn more.)
8. Tricky Christmas Combo: Cats' n' Kids
Fun-loving young visitors could cause considerable stress if your cat is not accustomed to them. Be sure someone supervises the kids' interactions with your kitty. Give visitors of all ages treats to give the kitty or a favorite toy to play with so they associate the visitors with positive interactions. Consider installing a safety gate in the room's doorway where the celebrations are held - that way, your cat can leave by walking through or jumping over the gate if it gets overwhelming.
9. Keep Your Cat "Feline" Fine
Cats thrive on predictability and routine, so things that seem minor to you could cause a lot of anxiety for your cat. Keep your cat’s necessities, including their food and water bowls and litter boxes, in their usual locations if possible. Think about mitigating stress by avoiding unnecessary changes, such as avoiding moving furniture around too much. Consider plugging in a pheromone diffuser to help alleviate anxiety (use it several days before the holiday and once the festivities begin).
10. Cat-friendly Christmas Cleaning
While it may be tempting to do a pre-holiday deep clean, doing so can eliminate the scent marks your cat has left around your home. Scent marks help cats feel secure, and losing them can lead to anxiety. Stick to cleaning only the rooms you'll be using. Avoid using air fresheners since they irritate cats' noses and respiratory systems, as well as mask scent marks (you can learn more about cat-friendly cleaning here).
With these tips, you're sure to have a safe and happy season with your best friend right by your side. Happy paw-lidays from all of us at Meowtel!