Whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, it’s likely your home has an increase in visitors, more decorations, and seasonal foods in the kitchen. This change in your environment often brings joy and merriment to the people in your life, but it can also bring serious risks if you share your home with a cat.
Often times our first concern with pet safety around the holidays is worrying about what our cats and kittens may try to eat – and with good reason. Not only will your kitty’s curiosity be piqued by new smells, you may also have visitors who attempt to give your pet snacks or leave food unattended. Food is such an important consideration around the holidays, the AVMA puts food risks accompanying Holiday Pet Safety at the top of their list. We encourage you to review their full list of off-limit foods each holiday season, but a good, simple rule to follow is to avoid sharing sweets and table scraps with your cat – no matter how much they beg!
It’s also important to have a quick conversation with your guests, asking them not to feed your cat any food without your permission. A well-meaning visitor may feed your cat a dangerous food or even simply leave their plate unattended, allowing your curious kitty to snag a snag for themselves. This can lead to serious health complications for your cat. (And don’t forget to include children and young adults in that conversation!)
Keep Your Decorations Intact
Decorations are a close second when it comes to holiday hazards. Whether you have a Christmas tree, candles, tinsel or fragile figurines, they’re all new to your cat’s environment. Your cat may be tempted to chew on or play with new objects. We encourage you to take a look around your cat’s home and make a few of the following adjustments as needed to provide a safer, more pet-friendly home.
Solid bases. Do all of your decorations have a solid base? If possible, widen, weight, or somehow strengthen the bottom of free-standing decorations (like a Christmas tree) so they are difficult to knock over.
Smaller, more stable decorations. Choose to display your more durable decorations and keep your fragile items in a display case or somewhere your cat is unable to access (if such a place exists in your home). If you have to display a tall or unstable decoration, consider securing it with weights or ties to ensure it won’t tip over.
Unappealing sprays. If you have seasonal plants or a Christmas tree, always check with your veterinarian to make sure the plant itself isn’t poisonous. If it’s safe to keep in the house, you can try apple cider vinegar or citronella sprays to repel your cat. People report varying levels of success with this since every cat is a little different. But to humans, these sprays often smell nice, so trying a variety of approaches often has the pleasant side effect of an air freshener!
Before You Leave the House
No matter what decorations you have, it is especially important to make sure all potential hazards are removed when you are away from your home. This includes making sure candles are not lit, lights are turned off, and all food is put away. Whenever we visit client homes, we look for these potential hazards – even if we know our feline clients won’t be home alone for very long.
We know your cat’s safety is your number one concern, so please share any other safety practices you have with our community in the comments below!