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Christmas Decorations and Your Cat's Safety

Updated on October 16, 2009

Christmas Safety Tips for You and Your Feline Friends

Christmas Trees and Your Feline Friends

Cats are naturally curious, inquisitive, and attracted to objects that wiggle, flutter or shine. They are playful and love chasing and catching things that prove interesting. Of course, they also like to hide and pounce on unsuspecting targets that pass by. Motion is an invitation to play, and small items create special interest, especially for house cats.

When unpacking holiday decorations, your cat will naturally be curious and want to help. A box, in itself, peaks a cat's curiosity and becomes a place to play or nap. Holiday decorations twinkle, jingle, flash, and flutter; an imagination wonderland for cats!

Christmas Trees: Natural and faux trees are filled with interesting smells and offer great hiding and climbing opportunities for your cat. Stabilize the tree to prevent tipping by anchoring it to a wide, flat base. Two wide pieces of wood placed in an X-shape works good. Additional stability can be provided by tying craft or fishing wire around the top of the tree and attack to hooks in the ceiling.

Leaving the tree undecorated for a few days will allow your cat to get accustomed to it before you add decorations.

Tree Water Source:

Cover the tree's water container. Many cats find water convenient and irresistible. Unfortunately, tree sap, bacteria and fertilizer be fatal to your cat. Cover the water by fitting a plastic or metal lid around the trunk, and wrap a tree skirt over the stand, and secure it with clips.

Decorative Flocking: Skip decorative tree flocking or artificial snow. Chemicals found these faux snow coverings are toxic, can cause intestinal blockage if eaten, and are harmful if inhaled by your cat.

Tree and Holiday Lights: Christmas tree lights can be tempting chew-toys. If a cat chews through a cord, they can burn their mouths or be electrocuted! Place cords in protective coverings, such as paper tubes, hide them underneath the tree skirt or inside a box disguised as a package. Spraying the cords with bad tasting deterrents, such as Bitter Apple, can be a good alternative. Be creative and keep cords out of view.

Tinsel and Foil Garlands: Avoid tinsel like the plague! Tinsel and icicles lure cats with glittery shine and movement. Tinsel and other garland materials are sharp and can shred your cat's intestines and/or block the intestines. Many fatalities are caused from ingesting tinsel!

Tree Ornaments: Shiny glass ornaments tempt your cats playful nature, but shards of glass from broken decorations can cut your pets paw pads and cause severe internal damage if eaten. Place breakable ornaments near the top of the tree, and less delicate decorations on the bottom branches.

Ornament Hooks: Wire ornament hooks can also cut paw pads and wreck havoc if ingested. Bend the ends of the ornament hanger tightly around the branch to prevent wire hooks from becoming loose and falling off. Ornaments can also be tied with ribbon, but make sure the ribbon is wrapped tightly and tied securely!

Ribbon and Bows: Having lost a beloved kitten to the dangers of ribbon, I have experienced first-hand knowledge relative to the hazards and lures of holiday decorations. Ribbon is colorful, wiggles in the breeze, and when unstrung either end of the ribbon becomes an irresistible opportunity for attack and pounce.

Cats cannot spit out, pull or remove something from their mouths once it reaches the esophagus (or back of the mouth). In order to get rid of the object, they keep swallowing until the ribbon, string or other small object is gone.

Sometimes objects pass through a cat's system without any problems. But, all to often, it becomes tangled and knotted in the stomach or intestines. When it becomes lodged internally it cannot pass through and exit with your cat's stool. Toxic bile and other poisons spread quickly to their hearts, lungs, and spinal areas. All too often, cats can suffer slow painful death from ripped and torn internal organs because an enticing ribbon or string was ingested.

Longer lengths of ribbon cause the intestines to bunch up, similar to a drawstring in a waistband. Sharp wire-edged ribbon can cut a cat's mouth if chewed and slice stomach and intestine walls if swallowed.

Candles and Potpourri: Flickering flames and unfamiliar scents are temptations for your feline. Lighted candles can result in damaged paws and singed fur. Oils extracted from potpourri through heating are toxic if ingested, and can easily burn your cat's skin. Always keep these kinds of decorations out of reach, and never burn candles without pet supervision.

Holiday Plants: Most everyone likes to include symbolic vegetation among and within holiday decorating themes. However, mistletoe, holly, poinsettias and pine boughs can be fatal to your cat if eaten!

There are no safe holiday plants if they've been sprayed with chemicals. Keep live plants out of reach, clean up fallen pine needles, and watch your your cat for any signs of distress or illness. Vomiting, stumbling, muscle tremors, depression and seizures are common signs of poisoning. If you notice any of these signs, take your cat to your veterinarian immediately!

Your cat's health and well-being is precious. While decorating your home for a joyous holiday celebration, take the time to minimize and eliminate holiday hazards.

Christmas Tree Cat


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