Christmas advice from Cambridge Cats Protection
29 November 2015
Christmas is coming! Advice for a safe happy Christmas for cats...
Everyone wants a safe, happy Christmas for people and pets, so here are some tips to make sure your cat enjoys Christmas as much as you do, and avoid that Christmas morning trip to the vet!
Your cat may not be at all bothered about a lot of the things on the list. Only you know your cat and which things to be careful of. Most of all have a happy time with all those you love – including your cat!
Some cats regard Christmas trees as a delightful playground, others are pretty much uninterested. A nimble, careful cat may climb the tree in perfect safety, but just to be safe, think carefully about where you put your tree. Choose somewhere you can secure the tree to the wall or ceiling using clear fishing line. Small cup or ring hooks can be permanently placed in the ceiling or walls – most of the year they will not be noticeable but will be invaluable at Christmas. Make sure the tree base is sturdy and stable. If your tree is real, don’t use any chemicals in the water – cats WILL drink out of it in preference to their fresh water bowl, and tree preservatives are toxic. Alternatively, cover the top of the pot securely so the cat
can’t get to the water. If you can’t secure your tree, think about putting a play pen round it, so if it falls, it falls safely! Pine needles aren’t toxic but can lodge in a cat’s intestines so do hoover up any fallen needles daily. Keep breakable ornaments for the top of the tree, out of easy reach. Many baubles are made of glass and if broken will cut paws and noses. Do not use edible ornaments – edible for humans can be toxic to cats, and a cat may leap up a tree to get at the attractive smell. Keep the tinsel off too. Many cats can’t resist it, and if they chew it, it can easily form a blockage in the intestines. Even if your cat is
not a climber, be careful when actually decorating as tinsel and so on around on the
floor or table is just as attractive.
Gift wrapping and ribbon
Gifts left under the tree will be investigated by your cat, and the same dangers lurk as with tree decorations. It’s better to keep them all somewhere else until Christmas morning when you will be there to supervise. Have a big bag for everyone to bundle their wrapping paper etc straight into to remove temptation. Your cat doesn’t really understand presents – he won’t mind you opening his for him!
Many cats can’t resist nibbling plants in the home. Most plants are perfectly safe, but there are a few traditional Christmas gift plants that are dangerous for cats. If you are given one of these, either keep them in a cat-proof room or re-gift them to a pet free home. Amaryllis, daffodils, hyacinths, iris, mistletoe and ALL lilies are very poisonous to cats. If you think your cat has chewed on any of these, take him to the vet IMMEDIATELY. Poinsettias are regularly given at Christmas and will cause cats upset stomachs and to vomit if they eat them.
Who can resist giving a good and deserving cat some of the good things around? A little treat does not harm but cats are creatures of routine, and too many tasty extras can quickly lead to upset stomachs! If you truss your turkey with string, carefully put it straight into your (cat-proof) dustbin! If a cat starts to swallow something, it can’t stop because of the structure of its throat and tongue, so if your pet starts sucking the tasty turkey-soaked string, the whole lot will go down his gullet – never try to pull it out but rush him to the vet as soon as possible. Other things to watch are:
- Alcohol can cause severe liver and brain damage. As little as a tablespoon can lead to problems for your cat.
- Chocolate ingestion can cause heart problems, muscle tremors, or seizures.
- Coffee, Tea, Energy Drinks contain caffeine that can cause your cat to become restless, have rapid breathing, heart palpitations and muscle tremors.
- Dairy Products: many cats are lactose intolerant and it can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.
- Fat Trimmings can cause vomiting, diarrhoea or a painful condition called pancreatitis (from excessive fat)
- Onions and Garlic: all members of the onion family can cause problems if eaten in sufficient quantity, at the very least cause digestive upset.
For many cats, winter brings a deadly threat: Antifreeze. Antifreeze is said to be sweet and animals like to eat or drink it, but ingestion can often be fatal if it’s not immediately treated. Symptoms include vomiting, appearing sleepy/’drunk’, seizures and difficultly breathing. If you suspect poisoning visit a VET IMMEDIATELY.
Lastly, if you have visitors coming for Christmas, try to keep your cat’s routine as normal as possible. Make sure they have a quiet place to retreat to at all times with their bed, blanket, toys, water and food bowls. Train your visitors in cat etiquette: advise them not to chase the cat, let the cat come to them. Most dogs enjoy meeting new people – most cats hate it. Have a safe room as a refuge not just for your cat, but for you when it all gets too much and you can spend some quality quiet time with your furry friend.
We hope you and your cats have a happy, peaceful and relaxed Christmas!