How to Keep Your Cat Safe this Christmas
Christmas is a busy and exciting time for many people and their pets. Unfortunately, this can also mean unexpected dangers for our feline family members. Let’s discuss some common hazards you may encounter with your cat and some advice on how to prepare for emergencies!
Don’t Wait to Prepare!
Due to the hustle and bustle of the season, cat owners sometimes miss the important task of being prepared with their pets. Some exciting events that occur during the holiday season include traveling with pets, boarding pets at facilities or with sitters, or having visitors within the household. In all of these cases, you’ll want to prepare by ensuring your cat is up to date on their vaccinations and other preventative care.
Avoiding the hassle of last-minute vaccine appointments can be crucial in minimizing your holiday stress! Be sure to refill all pet medications well in advance, and plan ahead for health certificates needed for travel. You’ll also want to keep a copy of your pet’s records on hand in case of an emergency. Make sure you have contact information for local after-hours clinics in case your regular vet is closed.
Update Your Cat’s First Aid Kit
Your pet’s first aid kit should be checked at least twice a year. A good time to do this is before the holidays of Christmas and the Fourth of July. These are common days for pet emergencies. For a detailed list of first aid supplies we recommend, click HERE.
Make a Risk Assessment of Your Surroundings
So many things around the holiday present unique and tempting dangers to your pet. Cats are inquisitive by nature and can ingest dangerous items that we commonly use for decoration around Christmas. Strings, garland/tinsel, Christmas tree clippings, ribbon, and other decorations can cause an intestinal blockage that requires surgery. Avoid using open flames on candles placed on surfaces accessible to cats. Christmas lights, if chewed, can cause electrocution or strangulation if tangled around your cat. Christmas trees can also fall on top of your cat if they attempt to climb them.
Evaluate your environment for any opportunity for your pet to swallow these decorations, chew/electrocute on cords, or entangle themselves. These can be fatal and easily avoided injuries for cats. Also, educate yourself and your guests on appropriate foods for your pets. Know what to avoid to ensure that toxic food items don’t send you to the vet for an emergency visit.
A good general rule is to simply avoid any table food for your cat around the holidays. Many human foods can be surprisingly toxic, including things like garlic, onions, grapes/raisins, or chocolate. Also, ensure cats don’t have access to tempting liquor drinks or anything containing alcohol. Christmas food often has high fat and/or salt content, and is rarely suitable to share with our cats.
Many of these foods can cause vomiting or diarrhea, but in severe cases can even cause kidney failure, life-threatening anemia, seizures, or death. If you want to spoil your cat, do so with treats they are used to and tolerate well, or provide a safe, new toy. If your pet has accidentally ingested something toxic, you should note how much they’ve eaten, and always contact a vet immediately for emergency advice.
Cats may want to investigate indoor plants. Several of the plants that you may have at home around Christmas are toxic to cats. If you notice that your cat is interested in a certain plant, it's best to remove it from their environment. Make sure that potentially toxic plants, as well as cut flowers, are placed where cats can’t reach them. Plants that can cause poisoning include lilies, amaryllis, Christmas rose, and poinsettia.
Simple Tricks to Minimize Your Cat’s Stress During the Holidays
New toys: try to play with your cat for a few minutes a day. This can reduce the likelihood of them investigating the Christmas tree, and getting into trouble.
Food toys: try serving your cat's food in an interactive toy or puzzle, to provide mental stimulation and keep them occupied for longer.
Personal space: when having guests in your home, ensure that your cat's litter tray is in a quiet place where it is easily accessible. Make sure they also have a quiet place to go - preferably a place where the cat can be higher up and where they have a view of the room. Also, ensure that your cat has options (at least two litterboxes and two water sources) if they’re stressed.
Tip! If you know that your cat gets stressed by new people, try using a Feliway pheromone diffuser. Spray and plug-in diffuser options are available. There are also prescription medications your vet can prescribe if appropriate to help with severe fear or anxiety in cats during stressful events such as family or new pets visiting the home.
Register Your Pet with FirstVet
Register and add your cat to your FirstVet app (iPhone, Android, tablet, or web app) so that you have quick and easy access to an experienced vet 24/7, 365 days a year - even throughout Christmas and New Year.