The holiday season is one filled with traditions and celebrations. It’s the most wonderful time of year for us, but the same can’t always be said for our cats.
Cats don’t have calendars, so they can’t prepare themselves for changes happening around the house every year throughout December. Things like decorations, plants, Christmas trees, and guests can all affect your cat’s safety and cause anxiety.
Last year, most people had a quieter December than usual, so our pets didn’t have to deal with unpredictable changes. This year, many celebrations will go (mostly) back to normal, so remember to consider your cat’s wellbeing when preparing for the festivities!
Our tips below will help reduce your feline family members’ stress while keeping them safe this holiday season!
The 4 most important cat safety tips for the holidays!
1. Keeping your cat safe around the Christmas tree
Cats are fascinated with Christmas trees – both real and artificial. As little hunters who like high places, we are bringing the outdoors into their home.
Awesome smells? Check.
Something to climb? Check.
Something to chew and scratch? Check.
Little creatures to bat and attack? Check.
The highest kitty condo ever? Check.
Really, Christmas trees are the best present you can ever give your cat!
Why are some cats so fascinated with Christmas trees? For one, it’s new and very large, so it needs to be explored. Second, it doesn’t matter if the tree is real or fake. Either way, it’s going to have an interesting smell that needs to be checked out. And finally, it looks like a cat perch.
If you plan to have a Christmas tree and own a cat, heed the following tips:
Anchor your tree
Cats like to climb, so secure your tree in whatever way possible so it doesn’t come crashing down when your cat jumps at it. If the tree is tall enough, use the ceiling to secure it or try using a wall for support.
Don’t put your tree in an area where your cat already likes to climb. If you’re moving a kitty condo out of the way to make room for a Christmas tree, no one is being set up for success.
Cats like to bat at things with their paws and chew anything that looks interesting. Ornaments are fair game in your pet’s eyes, so avoid putting anything dangly at the bottom of the tree. Some cat owners may need to take it one step further and avoid placing any ornaments along the bottom quarter of the tree altogether.
Tree decorations are made from metal, glass, wood, plastic, and various fabrics. Your cat won’t care what the material is when they’re swatting at it. Glass ornaments are fragile, and if broken could cut your cat's paws, or if ingested cause internal injuries.
Cover all cords
Cords that connect lights to the tree are tempting to play with if not placed correctly. Cords shouldn’t be noticeable. If the distance between the electrical outlet and the cord is stretched, consider using an extension cord so there is slack. This will allow it to be spread along the floor.
Some cats, especially kittens, like to chew on electrical cords. Avoid severe burns and electrocution hazards by securing cords to the floor with painter’s tape or cable management kits.
Block off the water resevoir
Real trees smell great and are wonderful to have in the house during the holidays. However, a healthy tree needs to be watered. The trunk of a Christmas tree needs to be placed in a reservoir of water.
It isn’t safe for your cat to drink because toxic chemicals used to keep the tree green will seep into the water.
To keep your cat safe and your tree watered, cover the base to make it inaccessible. This could be a fun DIY project or something you can purchase online.
2. Decorations and cats. Could it be a recipe for disaster?
Who knew holiday decorations could be so dangerous for cats? Look around your house for these two main types: Long stringy objects and plants.
For cats, the two main categories of dangerous decorations are long, stringy objects, and plants.
Veterinarians will always warn about linear foreign bodies that can cause severe, even life-threatening, damage to the tummy and intestines. Always keep these decorations out of your cat’s reach:
- Ribbons (fabric, paper, or plastic)
- Cords (see Christmas tree tip above)
There are so many different options for holiday plants to display in your home. While some are safe, many are toxic enough to require an emergency visit to the vet if ingested.
Dangerous plants include:
- Mistletoe and Holly
- Lilies and Daffodils
- Amaryllis and Paperwhites
Don’t despair! There are still many safe plants which include:
- Christmas Cacti
- African Violets
- Boston Ferns
- Spider plants
- Swedish Ivy
3. Maintaining your cats routine during the holidays
Cats dislike change as much as they dislike swimming. Over the holidays, it’s important to stick to the same feeding schedule, and have playtime every day. This is the best way you can take care of your cat when your schedule is anything but normal.
You may not be able to stick to your normal routine 100% of the time, so try to show your cat a little extra love when you can. Play with them often and maybe sneak in a few extra treats (not too many!).
4. The Guest/Cat relationship dynamic can be.... interesting
If guests aren’t common and your cat doesn’t look like they’re having a good time, let them decide what to do. Your cat will greet guests if/when they are ready.
If they don't want to be pet or picked up, make sure to let your guests know.
Create a safe haven space for your cat in another room or quiet area of the home with food and water, comfy sleeping spot, and litter box. If you want to encourage them to spend time at the party, give them high space (at least 4 -6 feet off the ground) on a kitty shelf, high kitty condo, or door jamb hammock. Take charge of over-friendly kid and adult guests by telling them your cat is shy and doesn’t want to play.
It’s nothing personal. Mostly.
A solution for handling stress from strangers is to create a safe space for your cat. A safe space could be a room, crate or even a basement that has been set up with the items necessary for your cat to feel comfortable. This includes water, food, a litter box, and something comfortable to sleep on. Learn more about creating a safe haven here.
The holiday season can be very busy, so let’s plan early to ensure our cats don’t take a backseat to the rest of the festivities. Follow the tips above to keep your cat safe and happy.
Check in with your cat’s behaviour, appetite, and litter box habits. If you notice anything our of the ordinary, reach out early to your local veterinary staff to ensure your cat’s best health.
The staff of Petsecure wish you and your pets a safe and happy holiday season!