As we head into the last two weeks of the year, there are a few safety considerations for feline pet parents to keep in mind.
The Christmas tree is a central part of many festive home decorations. As you may have already learned the hard way, it is also a giant, tempting danger lurking in your living room when it comes to your cat. There are a few things you can do to make sure it’s less likely to end up a source of added holiday stress for you, your cat, and your vet.
Make sure it is securely anchored: Whether using a real or artificial tree, it should be securely anchored and balanced. In a scenario where your cat ends up trying to climb the branches, you don’t want it to fall over, possibly injuring the animal and damaging ornaments or other items (or humans) in the room.
Keep real trees watered and regularly sweep up fallen needles: Aside from not wanting a fire or the feeling of a pine needle impaled into your foot, fallen needles can be dangerous if ingested by curious kitties. Tree needles can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, and can even puncture the intestines. Check the floor for needles a couple of times a day and sweep them up promptly.
Keep your cat from drinking from the tree water bowl: The water that keeps your tree from drying up and falling apart should be replenished regularly, but over time it still becomes a place where harmful bacteria can flourish. Covers to keep your cat from drinking the water and getting sick should be available online or at your local pet store, or you can just make one at home:
- Take the plastic lid of a butter/margarine bowl or ice cream bucket, and cut with scissors to the middle
- Cut a hole in the middle a tiny bit larger than the tree trunk
- Wrap it around the trunk, and secure it with tape
- Re-secure it every time you replenish the water.
Decorate the tree with the cat in mind: You’ll want to put more delicate ornaments in the higher-up, harder-to-reach boughs of the tree. Lower-hanging ornaments are an irresistible temptation to many of our feline friends. Tinsel is an absolute no-no. If ingested, this can cause serious digestive distress and in some cases might require surgical removal. It’s just not worth it.
Plants like poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe have differing levels of toxicity to your cat, but none of them are good. Unless sealed away in a locked glass cabinet, or hanging in the middle of the ceiling where not even the most determined feline adventurer can reach it, it’s best to avoid these dangers to their health or opt for fake ones (but keep in mind that little plastic pieces can pose a chew risk).
Candles are another part of many peoples’ holiday festivities. Never, ever, leave a lit candle unattended in a home with pets. That happy, scented glow can become a dangerous fire in the home with one swipe of the paw.
Keeping these tidbits in mind can help your family and your pets have a safe, happy holiday season!