You’ve finally put up the perfect Christmas tree. It’s gorgeous now, but if you have curious cats, it might not stay that way. After all, the bright lights and sparkly decorations can be enticing to your cat. That’s why it’s always good to know how to “cat-proof” your Christmas tree — because as cat parents know, felines can be a handful during the holidays, and I know you want to keep your kitty safe.
The good news is, if you take a few simple precautions now, you may be able to keep your cat from messing with your holiday decorations, and keep them safe.
Holiday Safety For Feline Friends: Know The Potential Dangers Of Holiday Decorations
Of course, you want your home to be beautifully decorated for the holidays. You might have some artificial snow here and there, a gorgeous tree, shiny ornaments, and fantastic lighting. But a lot of holiday decorations can actually be dangerous to your feline family member.
For example, Christmas staples such as holly and mistletoe can be poisonous to pets — causing nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting if ingested.1 If you love how these plants look, and want to decorate with them safely, consider plastic alternatives instead of the real thing.
Additionally, candles can be a major problem for cats. Your kitty may knock them over, or get burned if they get too close. If you want to decorate with candles, make sure to place them on a stable surface in sturdy candleholders, and out of your cat’s reach — and always remember to blow them out when you leave the room.
Other Dangerous Holiday Hazards: Electrical Cords, And Choking Hazards
There are a few other potential “holiday hazards” you should be aware of if you have a cat, like:
- Tinsel — It doesn’t matter whether you put tinsel on an artificial tree or a natural tree — it’s beautiful. Unfortunately, that makes it very enticing to your cat — and if your kitty ingests any tinsel, it can lead to a potentially severe intestinal blockage. So, either opt to go without tinsel this year, or put it up high where your cat can’t get to it.
- Lights — Try to avoid putting lights at the bottom of your tree if possible. Cats can get tangled in Christmas lights, or get shocked if they try to bite through electrical cords.
- Edible decorations — Have you ever adorned your tree with strands of popcorn or edible ornaments? It makes for a fun decoration, but edible decorations can pose a choking risk for your cat. Plus, if a cat attacks a popcorn strand, they could wind up knocking the entire tree down — and that’s no fun for anyone!
Keeping Your Cat Away From Your Christmas Tree
Cats — especially young ones — usually can’t resist Christmas trees. After all, an indoor tree provides the best of both worlds for your cat. It fulfills their natural inclination to climb, and they don’t have to worry about the weather or potential predators outside. It can be challenging to keep your cat out of the tree this holiday season, but it can be done.
It might seem odd, but try to hold off on decorating the tree when you first put it up. This will give you a chance to try to convince the cat not to mess with it. Put some water in a spray bottle. When the cat approaches the tree, give them a little spritz to dissuade any further investigation.
While you’re decorating the tree, consider keeping the cat in another room. It will save you a lot of time and frustration.
Finally, instead of glass ornaments, use plastic ones if possible. A glass ornament can easily shatter, potentially causing severe damage to a cat. If you’re using delicate ornaments, put them higher up the tree.
Other Methods To Consider
There are a couple of other things you can try. Some cats hate citronella oil. Spray the bottom of the tree with a diluted mixture of oil (just adding a few drops into a spray bottle will do the trick), and that might help keep your feline companions away. You could also consider spreading some aluminum foil on the floor near the tree, since most cats don’t like the sensation of foil on their paws.
You’ll also want to be sure to pick up Christmas tree needles every day. You don’t want to take the chance your cat might eat one and suffer an upset stomach as a result.
Holiday Food And Your Cat — What To Avoid
If you’re planning on throwing a holiday party, or making a big meal for your family, you’ll probably wind up putting out some food on the table. While this is festive and expected, understand that there are some popular holiday foods that are toxic to cats. Here are just a few:
- Chocolate — Cats don’t usually have a “sweet tooth,” but even a small amount of chocolate can cause big problems if your kitty gets their paws on some. Chocolate contains a stimulant known as theobromine, which can damage the nervous system and heart of cats.
- Raisins — Raisins can seriously damage a cat’s kidneys. While most cats avoid raisins, you should still be careful if you use them in bread or in anything else — or if one rolls off the counter onto the floor.
- Bones — Small turkey or chicken bones can easily lodge in a cat’s digestive system. This can result in severe — and possibly even fatal — internal damage.
- Onions — Onions might be great in holiday stuffing, but they’re bad news for your pet. They can result in lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, and other problems.
If you’re throwing a big holiday get-together, or even if you’re just hosting a few family members, you may want to consider putting your cat in another room. Try to do this until everyone leaves and you’re able to put away any potentially dangerous foods.
Holiday Pet Safety: Know When It’s Time To Go To The Veterinarian
It’s unfortunate that holiday decorations can be a threat to your pet’s health, but with the proper precautions, you can decorate and enjoy your holiday worry-free. But of course, you have any reason at all to believe your cat has been injured or ingested something dangerous, get in touch with your vet as soon as you can.
Your cat may signal to you that something is wrong. Be on the lookout for issues like diarrhea and vomiting. If your cat seems suddenly withdrawn, or is showing some other type of behavioral change (such as missing the litter box), you may want to consider calling your vet.
The holidays are a wonderful time of year — and with these tips, you can be confident your holidays will be filled with nothing but joy, for you and your pet.
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