How to keep your cat safe at Christmas

Christmas is a time for seeing family and friends, celebrating and eating delicious food. While all this is fun for humans, it could be a difficult time for your cat. From poisonous presents to dangerous decorations, here’s the rundown of what to look out for this Christmas to keep your cat safe

How can a Christmas tree be dangerous to cats?

Cats can often be entranced by a decorated Christmas tree and there are lots of potential dangers.

The natural oils in a real Christmas tree can irritate your cat’s stomach if they chew on the branches – and the needles could be toxic if ingested. While you might think an artificial Christmas tree is the better option, they’re not without risks either. As they’re lighter, faux trees tend to fall over easily should cats try to climb them. And, if your cat does like to chew on Christmas tree branches, a branch made of wire and plastic isn’t ideal.

Whether you go for a real or a faux tree, your safest bet is to never leave it unattended with your cat. And make sure you don’t put your cat’s Christmas gift under the tree for them. They’ll smell the catnip or treats through the wrapping paper, encouraging them to interact with both the wrapping and the tree.

How can Christmas decorations be dangerous to cats?

Most decorations are completely safe for cats, but the two to watch out for are tinsel and fairy lights.

Tinsel’s glittery shimmer is attractive to cats, but if they were to chew and swallow some, it could cause a serious blockage in their gut. Additionally, some tinsel has wire in it, meaning your cat could be at risk of perforated intestines if they ingest it, as well as injuries to their mouth and throat.

Flickering Christmas lights also pose a risk to mischievous cats. Should your cat bite through the wire, they’re at risk of electrocution. They could also get tangled in ‘stringy’ decorations such as lights and tinsel. Be sure to supervise your cat around your Christmas tree and turn off Christmas lights whenever you’re not home.

It’s also a good idea to hang any dangling decorations away from the base of the tree. Anything colourful and spinning on a ribbon could be tempting for your cat to play with, which could result in the tree falling on your them.

Similar to Easter, the Christmas foods loved by humans can be poisonous to cats. Alcohol, dairy, onions, garlic, raisins and chocolate are particularly toxic.

While you’d never intentionally feed your cat these items, a cheeky cat could help themselves to food left out in the kitchen. Stuffing, for example, is traditionally made with onion, garlic and raisins, meaning your cat could be unwell if this was ingested. Likewise, a bowl of brandy butter or a glass of whisky crème liqueur could easily be licked up by a cat.

Other risks include trussing string used when roasting meat. It smells and tastes like meat, so it’s tempting for your cat, but it could cause an obstruction in your pet’s stomach if they were to eat it. Similarly, leftover meat grease in a roasting tin could cause an upset stomach, while sharp turkey or chicken bones could hurt your cat’s mouth or digestive tract.

Make sure you pack dangerous foods away quickly and keep your kitchen door closed whenever you can.

Which Christmas plants are poisonous for cats?

It’s traditional during the festive period to bring nature inside, including fresh lilies in a floral centrepiece, holly above your mantlepiece or mistletoe over a door. Sadly, all these plants are toxic to cats. The smallest amount of any lily pollen is dangerous and berries of mistletoe and holly are toxic too.

Poinsettia and amaryllis are traditional Christmas gifts, and both cause stomach irritation to cats if they ingest them. Find more information on plants that can harm cats here.

What are some situational dangers for cats at Christmas?

Keep your cat safe at Christmas by making sure they can’t dash out into the street when guests visit.

Let them hide away from the bustle if they want to. A quiet room with their litter box and a pheromone spray will help calm them. If your cat is an outdoor cat, make sure the garden is still safe for them to escape to.

Changes to routine, furniture moves, new smells and lots of people can all be overwhelming, especially to a house cat or a timid cat.

Finally, if you ever think your cat might be injured or may have ingested something toxic, contact your vet straight away.

What are you buying your cat for Christmas? Post your feline gift ideas with the tag #PethoodStories on Facebook, Instagram or X.

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