The month of December is full of holiday celebrations, feasts, and gatherings. While these are joyous occasions for family and friends, they can pose a real danger to our feline friends.
Cats are naturally curious, and all the new sights, scents, and sounds catch their attention! Many human-safe objects common around this time present real dangers to our feline friends and could result in an emergency visit to the vet.
Here are some safety tips you can follow that will help you keep your kitty friends safe and sound all through the holiday season!
Plan ahead! Make sure you know how to contact and get to your closest 24-hour emergency hospital before needing their services. Consult with your regular vet team to determine where to transport your pet if needed, and plan out your route. It’s wise to keep a list of veterinary medical contacts both at home and on your mobile phone.
ID Tags and Microchips. Make sure your cat is registered with your local municipality’s Animal Services and properly identified with all information current. Keeping their microchip updated and registered will significantly increase the likelihood of reuniting your cat with your family if they slip out the door during the commotion of the holidays.
AVOID HOLIDAY FOOD HAZARDS
Even cats can be tempted to eat rich holiday foods, but do not let them have any! Pick up some special treats made specifically for pets if you wish to share the holiday feasting. If you’re travelling with your kitty, ensure you bring their regular food along, and/or make sure you can get it wherever you’re going. Abrupt changes to diet can cause digestive upset, often resulting in vomiting and diarrhea.
Here are some specific holiday foods that you should make sure your pet does not try:
Chocolate. Chocolate is toxic to cats and it's commonly used in holiday meals and desserts. The level of toxicity depends on the type of chocolate (generally, the darker it is the worse it is for pets), the amount consumed, and the size of the pet.
Alcohol. Animals can’t process alcohol the way humans can. Alcohol toxicity can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hypothermia (low temperature), and hypotension (low blood pressure), all of which can become critical if not treated. The yeast present in fermented alcoholic drinks can also result in bloating.
Scraps. We tend to consume extra-rich meals around this time of the year, which means that our table scraps can have too many fatty, poisonous, and difficult-to-digest substances for our pets. This can result in anything ranging from mild GI upset to pancreatitis to full-blown toxicity. The safest table scraps are none at all!
MAKE YOUR HOLIDAY DECORATIONS CAT-SAFE
Just like all the new food can spike your cat's curiosity, new decorations around the house during the holiday season bring along new smells, sights, and sounds that will pique their interest. If pet parents are not careful to pet-proof these tempting decorations, it might just end with a trip to the vet.
Some of the more common decorations that can present dangers are:
Christmas Trees. Cats find Christmas trees particularly intriguing. You should always anchor your Christmas tree to avoid any tipping or falling trees that can injure your feline baby. Live Christmas trees may be treated with preservatives that can make the tree water poisonous, so it’s best to block access to the base of it.
String Lights and Cords. Cats will check out anything new you install in their space, so avoid putting any string lights at the bottom of your tree where your pets can get tangled in the wires. Chewing on things can be a fun pastime for kitties, so tape wires and cords to the floor or wall, or hide them behind the furniture to prevent electrical shock.
Baubles and Ornaments. Many Christmas ornaments and baubles can easily break while others look like chew toys. All of them present a real danger of injury to your cat. You should always firmly secure any hanging decorations, and try your best to keep them out of reach to avoid any accidents.
Candles and Fireplaces. Never leave pets unattended around candles or fireplaces! Cats can be attracted by lights and objects that move quickly, and this can lead to accidents. It’s best to always keep candles out of reach and put a screen on fireplaces.
Plants. Many holiday plants and flowers can poison your kitty. Mistletoe, amaryllis, and holly can all cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal issues. Poinsettias present a lower level of toxicity, but they can still cause issues depending on the amount ingested. You can choose between artificial plants that your cat won’t find attractive or pet-safe bouquets.
KEEP YOUR KITTY SAFE WHEN HOSTING
The movement and noise of holiday parties and gatherings can upset even the most social cats, and they may feel anxious around all the guests.
Dedicated Room. Give them a quiet room for themselves, where they can retreat away from the noise if desired. Make it a place where they can feel safe when they need some alone time; make sure to bring their litter box, toys, water and food bowls, and their favourite blanket or bed.
Other Pets. The holidays are not the time to introduce new pets into the household, either permanent or temporary ones. If you can't avoid it, plan to take time to get the pets used to each other, supervise their interactions, and monitor their behaviour.
Keep an Eye on the Exits. Whether your kitty is social or not, with all the people entering and leaving the house on the holidays, they'll have plenty of chance to make a run for the door and might be in danger of getting lost.
Generally speaking, your best bet is sticking to your routine around your pets. Don’t change their diet, have them play with their regular toys, and as always, give them lots of love and attention. We hope these tips help you enjoy a fun and safe holiday season!
If you think your furry friend has consumed or had access to something they shouldn’t have; if they’re showing signs of distress, changes in behaviour, or any symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, contact your vet right away.