Christmas Holiday Health Hazards for Cats

The approach of Christmas fills homes with merriment, but it is also fraught with potential hazards that can endanger your cat and quickly turn a joyful season into tragedy. As you trim your Christmas trees and deck your halls, keep your cat’s curious nature and inquisitive paws in mind.

Christmas Holiday Health Hazards for Cats

12 Christmas Dangers For Cats

Here are 12 dangers of Christmas that you should be aware of as you celebrate the season so that your family can gather around the Yule log instead of around a veterinary hospital waiting room.

Cats and Christmas Trees

Cats love to climb in their quests to achieve high vantage points. Many cats are drawn to Christmas trees, which come crashing down when the adventurous felines climb and sway from the higher branches. Cats can become injured with sprains and broken bones during the crash landing. Avoid this scenario by securely tethering the tree to a sturdy hook on the wall or ceiling. If you have a real tree, cover the water dish with foil to dissuade your cat from drinking out of it. The water contains fertilizers that can cause gastrointestinal upset. Spritz the lower branches of the tree with a bitter apple deterrent spray to keep needle nibblers at bay. Chewing and ingesting needles can cause irritation in the cat’s oral cavity and gastrointestinal tract.

Tree Trimmings

The trimmings that make a Christmas tree glitter and sparkle can have hazardous consequences for your cat. Old-fashioned glass ornaments can be swatted to the ground, resulting in broken glass and cut paws if no one is home to clean up. Chewing on light bulbs can result in electrical shock or broken glass that cuts the cat’s mouth. Mylar of icicles, tinsel and decorative picks can result in a linear foreign body obstruction, a condition that requires emergency surgery and is often fatal. Wire ornament hooks can perforate the bowel if swallowed. Take extra steps to securely fasten all ornaments to the tree branches, omit icicles and switch from tinsel garland to swags of wide decorative ribbon. Keep lights and ornaments off of the bottom row of branches since many cats like to nap, stalk and survey the room from underneath the tree.

Is Christmas Cactus Poisonous to Cats?

Christmas Blooms

Despite the popular myth, poinsettias are not likely to cause death in cats that snack on them. Instead, the result is a bout of nausea and vomiting. Other holiday blooms are highly toxic if ingested, however, including holly, mistletoe, ivy and amaryllis. Christmas cactus is a safer floral alternative to display. Play it even safer by opting for silk variations of the popular Christmas blooms instead of the real thing. Find here a detailed listing of Holiday Plants that are Poisonous to Pets.

Cat Christmas Ornaments

Home Decor

Look at every article of holiday decoration from a cat’s point of view. Dangling stockings and garland will tempt Tarzan cats to jump, grab on and swing, potentially falling or pulling down a weighted object that is securing the decoration in place. Electrical cords and strings of lights pose a threat of electric shock if a cat chews on them. Find here more tips on Pet-Proofing Your Decorations for Christmas.

Gift Wrappings

Your cat may wish to lend a playful helping paw with the gift-wrapping duties, but limit your cat’s tasks to playing with a wadded piece of wrapping paper. Thin ribbons and the strings from tags and decorative embellishments can cause a deadly linear foreign body obstruction if they are chewed and swallowed.

Open Flames

Everyone, including your cat, loves to get cozy in front of a flaming hearth during the cold months. Use your fireplace with caution by installing a fireplace screen to keep the occasional flying spark contained. Place a comfortable ottoman at a safe distance from the fire and entice your cat to nap there. Flickering candles also pose a fire hazard. Your cat can burn an inquisitive nose or paw, and it can knock the candle over to ignite the table, rug or curtains. Keep all lit candles out of your cat’s reach and never leave a lit candle unattended.

Is Eggnog Bad for Cats?

Both non-alcoholic and boozy variations of eggnog are dangerous for your cat to lap. Most cats are lactose intolerant and will suffer from gastrointestinal upset if they consume dairy eggnog. Eggnog is also rich in fat, which can result in a bout of painful pancreatitis, a serious condition that requires hospitalization. Hard eggnog contains rum, which can be deadly for cats.

Baking Ingredients

If your cat insists on filling the role of an underfoot sous-chef during holiday baking endeavors, keep in mind that many of the common ingredients that are used in baking pose health hazards to cats if consumed. These dangerous ingredients include nuts, raisins, chocolate, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, raw eggs and yeast. Learn more about dangerous foods for cats.

Alcoholic Beverages

In addition to the aforementioned eggnog, all hard ciders, wine, beer, champagne and hard liquors that are used to create cocktails are dangerous to cats if consumed. Alcohol is a toxic substance that depresses a cat’s central nervous system and results in vomiting, tremors, staggering, respiratory distress, coma and death.

Opening Doors

From crooning carolers to mail carriers delivering gift packages to the arrival of guests throughout the season, the door to your home gets opened much more frequently. This increases the risk for an indoor cat’s escape. Always be cognizant of your cat’s whereabouts before opening the door. Confine your cat to an enclosed room while guests are arriving and departing. If you have a guest who needs to step outside to smoke over the course of his or her visit, keep the cat confined in a comfortable and secure room.

Cat Costumes and Christmas Sweaters for Cats

Dressing a cat up like one of Santa’s little elves or outfitting her with a red jester collar studded with jingle bells makes for adorable Christmas card photographic opportunities. Most cats dislike being dressed in costumes, however. In their struggle to disrobe, they can end up choking or ingesting buttons or other costume ornamentation. If your cat protests the costume, respect its feline dignity and abort the activity. If your cat is amenable to playing dress up, be sure to remove the costume after the photographic session has ended. Never leave a cat unattended while she is wearing anything other than her usual collar.

Christmas Cat Pictures with Santa

Many pet owners bring their canine companions to animal shelters, animal hospitals and pet supply shops to have pictures taken with Santa. Most cats are not as outgoing in such venues, and the risk for an escape is high. You should only bring the most docile and relaxed cat to such activities, and make sure that your cat travels in a carrier and remains tethered to a leash and harness when handed off to Santa. For a safer alternative, consider having the cat’s favored family member don a Santa suit in the security and comfort of the cat’s own home for the photographic moment.

By keeping these 12 dangers of Christmas in mind, you can help to ensure a safe and merry Christmas for your feline friend and the entire family. Check out Christmas Holiday Health Hazards for Dogs to keep your pooch safe too!

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