Keep Your Cat Safe Through The Holidays
Our Kitties, Dixie and Misty, Enjoy Christmas
Enjoy the holidays this year, keeping your cats safety in mind!
"It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year" and it can cause you to either have visions of sugarplums dancing in your head, or visions of chaos, and feelings of "if another thing goes wrong right now I am going to scream." OK, so maybe that last part is just me...
The holidays can be a wonderful time. Not just Christmas, but Thanksgiving, Hannukkah, Kwaanza, and New Year's Eve as well. And they can all be enjoyable and safe for you and for your cat, if you just keep some important safety tips in mind while you're busy decorating, cooking, and celebrating.
Keep Phone Numbers Handy For Your Veterinarian, As Well As For The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
You should always have a phone number handy for your veterinarian, in case of an emergency. This really applies all year, not just during the holidays. We always keep our vet's phone number on our refrigerator door. Another good number to have handy is the number for the Animal Poison Control Center, their number is 1-888-426-4435 (or 1-888-ani-help).
Now keep in mind that because this is an "888" number, there may be a $60 fee charged to you when you call. But if you feel that your cat may have ingested something poisonous, and that it is an emergency, that cost could turn out to be a bargain.
It might also be a good idea to have your cat micro-chipped, and/or wearing a collar with identification on it, just in case someone who is visiting your home accidentally lets the cat out and he or she gets lost. Many veterinarian's will do micro chipping for a fairly reasonable price. Check with yours to see if they do them, and what the cost is.
Be Cautious and Aware As You Decorate For The Holidays
One of the first things you want to be aware of is that when you are decorating your home, your cat is going to be FASCINATED by the entire process! Especially if it involves shiny objects, or other "pretty" things. They will want to be involved in every step, and it is wise to start being careful and thoughtful as you are putting up the decorations.
When decorating the tree, it is best to always put the unbreakable ornaments on the bottom of the tree (where your cat will probably do most of their exploring). If you have a cat that climbs up in the tree, you may even want to decorate the entire tree with unbreakable ornaments.
Now if you have a small tree, you might get away with breakable ornaments, if you can put the tree up where curious kitty cannot get it. Although, if your cat is anything like ours, there will not be many places in your home that are truly out of their reach! They can be excellent climbers, and very resourceful and smart when there is something so irresistible that they want to get their "paws" on!
Another thing to be watchful of is your kitty chewing on the wires from the Christmas lights. We had that problem when we first got our second kitty, Misty. Dixie never did chew much, but Misty has been a stinker that way! Keep your cat away, when the lights are plugged in especially, and regularly inspect the wires for breakage if you do have a "chewer" in your house.
My husband had to put electrical tape on some of our wires one Christmas, and eventually he put a plastic tube on them to keep her from chewing through them. You can also try a "bitter" tasting spray, available where most pet supplies are sold, as a deterrent to chewing. There's a small possibility of electrocution, but you don't want to even take a small chance. If the chewing persists, you may find that you have to keep your cat away from the tree. It might be good to keep your tree in a room with a door that can be closed, if that is possible.
Other things that should be kept away from your cat are ribbons and bows and other small fascinations that they will love to go after if they are left within reach! These can cause intestinal obstructions if they are swallowed (it's more likely that a dog will swallow them than a cat, but you never know!) And what always concerned me was the possibility of them getting that curly ribbon around their neck. So, if you let them play with it for a short time, supervise them, then take it away.
Also, do the best you can to keep things like those "S" shaped ornament hooks away from your cat. Those can be especially dangerous. I know I started using gold cord that was attached to our ornaments, so we no longer had to use metal "hooks" to hang them on the tree.Tinsel is another big thing to avoid since it is sooo fascinating to cats. It's best not to use it at all since it is another thing that could cause intestinal obstruction if eaten.
Sometimes it will seem like you are "cat-proofing" (or kitten proofing) your entire home... very similar to toddler proofing your home when you have a little baby in the house. You have to get down to their level and look around and see what is within their reach that can cause danger for them.
Another thing you are probably best off avoiding altogether is candles that are anywhere within kitty's reach... they can burn a tail, a nose, a paw, or be knocked over. It's best to avoid them and use another air freshening method if you want to have a pleasant scent in your home for the holidays. Another thing that could be poisonous to your cat is potpourri. You may think it is harmless enough, but some of the scents smell very similar to something that can be eaten and could be ingested by a curious kitty.
And one thing that I honestly was NOT aware of- did you know that snow globes are often filled with anti-freeze? If they are broken they could be ingested (again, it's more likely that a dog would do this rather than a cat). They can be really dangerous for pets.
You do not want to have a snow globe accidentally knocked over and broken. You could probably have one if you keep it in a place out of reach so that it won't be knocked over, or if you have a very well behaved cat that doesn't usually knock things over. But just as with the other pretty things associated with Christmas, it is probably better to be safe.
If you have a live Christmas tree, you want to keep any animals (cat or dog) from drinking the water. Things are usually added to the water to keep the tree fresher longer that can be harmful. Also, any pesticides used on the tree can "leach" into the water. Any kind of pine needles (live or artificial) can possibly cause a choking hazard or intestinal obstruction hazard if eaten.
Many Pretty Holiday Plants Can Be Toxic To Cats
Holiday flowers and plants like Poinsettia's, Holly berries, Hibiscus, Christmas cactus and Mistletoe can be hazardous to kitty and are poisonous if ingested by them. It's best to have artificial versions of these plants if you like to decorate your home with them.
Some Foods Can Be Harmful Or Even Fatal If Eaten By Your Cat
Unfortunately, a lot of the foods we love to eat at the holidays are not good for your cat, so do try to keep them from eating table food. Undercooked or raw meats can harbor bacteria such as salmonella and listeria. If you give your kitty cooked turkey, it might be best to rinse it off (if you have a lot of seasoning on it)... otherwise it's probably OK. Whatever you do, however, don't give your cat bones from the turkey, they can splinter if bitten off and cause choking, or damage to their intestines, causing an emergency vet call ( which is always unwanted during the holidays).
Other foods that you should never give to a cat are onions and garlic, they can cause anemia in cats. It's best to avoid letting them have mushrooms as well. Even gravy can be bad, especially packaged gravy that is very high in salt. And something I did NOT know, grapes and raisins have unidentified toxins in them that are hazardous for a cat!
As many pet owners already know, never give chocolate to your pet, The same holds true for anything caffeinated, especially coffee and alcohol as well. Make sure unattended drinks are picked up promptly so your cat won't ingest anything he or she shouldn't.
Some of the symptoms of food poisoning are staggering, labored breathing, diarrhea, vomiting or tremors. Get help right away if you notice any of these symptoms, or your cat could suffer heart or kidney damage. It's important to take it seriously, because some foods can even be fatal to a cat, so it is wise to be observant of any unusual behavior in your cat.
Warn your guests not to feed your cats bits of food from the meals as well, just to keep kitty safe. Sometimes guests are well meaning and not aware that some foods can harm your cat. Especially if you have a 'beggar cat" like ours can sometimes be, it can be hard to resist those big green eyes!
It is a good idea to keep healthy kitty treats formulated just for cats available so anyone who wants to give a little nibble to the kitty can do so safely. Just don't overdo those either or you could have an upset tummy to contend with later!
Try To Provide A Stress-Free "Escape" Area For Your Cat
Many cats can become stressed out if your house is too full of guests. They need a quiet place that they can retreat to, away from the commotion. Keep in mind a room or a place they can escape to, so they can relax and "cat nap" for a bit.
Keeping a watchful and safety minded "eye" out for your kitty this holiday season can make the holidays a lot more fun and memorable for everyone... and if you're like us, kitty will even have a stocking under the tree or on the fireplace filled with special toys just for them. As I always like to say, they are not spoiled, they're well loved!
Enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas with less worries, and have a festive, wonderful, and safe holiday!