Kitty Christmas Tips

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Veterinary emergency rooms are often full during the holidays. There is so much new and unusual holiday “stuff” in the house, it’s bound to get some cats in trouble. But you can take steps to make your home disaster-proof, keeping your cat safe through the holidays. Read on to find out how.

Tuck away the tinsel

Let’s face it: tinsel is soooooo 1970’s anyways. That’s one good reason to get it off your tree. But perhaps a better reason is that your cat, who’s absolutely fascinated by the sudden appearance of so many shiny, crinkly, fuzzy objects this time of year, is just waiting to get it in his mouth. Once there, he’ll realize it was a bad idea, chew until he severs the string, and swallows the piece that’s in his mouth.

String foreign bodies, as we call them, are legendary for the damage they cause, often from the esophagus all the way to the anus. Like the drawstring to your favorite pair of sweatpants, the string anchors itself in one section of the intestines, then saws back and forth with their normal motion, slowing causing multiple punctures.

Tinsel, ribbon – any decorative strings you have in your house – should be kept well away from your cats.

Fall in love with fake

The concern over poinsettia ingestion by both cats and dogs has been completely overblown. It turns out the leaves are only mildly irritating to the mucous membranes of the mouth, and because the taste is so yucky it’s highly unlikely that any discerning feline would eat enough to cause ill effects.

But other holiday plants – including holly, mistletoe, and lilies – are toxic to cats. And as many are nibblers of green stuff, it’s best to keep these plants completely out of your house. Provide something acceptable, like cat grass or cat nip, so that they can get their greens fix. And invest in some good quality fake holiday plants instead – no one will ever know the difference.

Cats and candles don’t mix

It’s cool the way that cats can saunter all over our furniture at will. But when you put out candles for the holidays, it’s important to ensure that they’re in a location that your champion gymnast can’t easily access.

Cats can be burned by either the candle wax or the flame itself, so make sure they can’t get close to burning candles, and never leave candles and cats unattended.

Trim your tree at flood stage

Indoor cats must think they have died and gone to heaven at Christmas: after all, what other time of the year does a TREE suddenly show up IN THE HOUSE???

Just as they’re recovering from the ecstasy of having their very own live tree, we fill its branches with shiny things that dangle. So it should come as no surprise to us when they try to destroy the tree we’ve so painstakingly put together. But with a little forethought you can both minimize the damage to your tree as well as reduce the chances that your cat will pull the tree down onto himself, causing substantial trauma.

Avoid decorating the branches that are 2 feet from the bottom of the tree or lower. Spray that portion of the tree with essential oils routinely. Peppermint is a good choice, as it’s a bit off-putting to cats and it’s holiday-friendly. And consider putting your tree somewhere that allows you to close the door when you’re out of the house.

Cover your cords

Biting into “live” electrical cords can result in electric shock, which leads to a condition known as pulmonary edema. This means that fluid collects in the lungs, causing severe respiratory distress, and death in some instances.

Some cats seem to be drawn to chew on electrical cords. Be sure that you keep light strings out of reach of your kitten if possible. You can also spray cords with a noxious substance (such as peppermint oil as mentioned above), which should deter chewing. And be sure to unplug light strands when you leave the house.