Did you know that Christmas can be a dangerous time of year for your cat, with hazards possibly resulting in intestinal blockages, kidney failure and even comas?
All About Cats
have issued a warning to households celebrating Christmas to highlight the holiday time conventions which can prove fatal to our feline friends.
Which are the Christmas foods you cannot (and can) share with your cat?
Chocolates, raisins and grapes are fatal to the kidneys of cats. Corn on the cob and cooked bones could choke your cat while bacon and meats cooked in animal fat can trigger pancreatitis or diarrhoea. Vegetables from the allium family including onions and garlic are extremely toxic and can trigger anaemia or gastroenteritis in cats. Furthermore, stuffing and gravy are too fatty and heavily seasoned for your cat’s stomach and must never be served to them. Finally, bear in mind that alcohol and desserts containing alcohol could affect your cat’s central nervous system, sending them into a coma.
Some Christmas foods are suitable for your cat in moderation, including boneless and skinless turkey, unseasoned potatoes, carrots and peas, prawns or shrimp with the shells removed and cooked and peeled chestnuts.
Is it safe to let your cat play with gift wrappings and Christmas decorations?
What’s more, gift bags and gift boxes can make for the perfect hide-and-seek playthings, but only let your cat play with paper or cardboard bags and boxes without handles (lest they get their head stuck in the handle) and with any wrapping paper removed and discarded.
Tinsel and baubles can look extremely attractive to your cat, but they can cause horrible intestinal blockages requiring medical attention so don’t leave any loose decor lying around spaces your cat frequents.
Be especially careful not to leave your cat alone in a space with decorations and lit candles as your cat could topple the candle, end up being burned by hot wax or unwittingly start a house fire. Try electric candles instead, and keep them well out of reach of your cat.
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How should you cat-proof your Christmas tree?
Cats love climbing and all things shiny, so you must bear in mind that your Christmas tree can easily become the most dangerous festive item in your home for an unsupervised cat. Therefore it is important to be aware of the following:
1 – Electric wires should be taped firmly to the wall or covered with plastic or cardboard tubes to prevent the risk of chewing and consequent electrocution and the lights on the tree should be switched off when nobody is home. A safer alternative is battery operated lights.
2 – If you have a real tree, be careful of your cat nibbling away at it because the oils produced by Christmas trees can be toxic for cats. The tree water is rich in pesticides and fertiliser – ingesting this stagnant water can poison your cats so keep it covered at all times. With fake trees, the leaves can irritate cat paws, mouths and intestinal tracts.
3 – Cats cannot resist climbing trees, so make sure your Christmas tree is equipped with a sturdy base or secure it with weights at the bottom to prevent it from toppling over.
4 – Avoid hanging baubles and tinsel close to the bottom of the tree as they could be easily knocked off with the tap of a paw by your cat. Remember to tightly secure delicate ornaments and hangings with sentimental value towards the top of the tree to prevent harm to both your cat and the decorations.
5 – Presents for your cat that contains catnip should never be stored under your tree because your cat will not be able to resist and could end up damaging your setup and hurting themselves in the process. When choosing gifts such as toy mice for your cat, avoid those with small, breakable plastic parts
Which Christmas plants are dangerous for cats?
Poinsettia, mistletoe berries, holly, lilies, English ivy and amaryllis are toxic, with the consumption of these causing a host of stomach problems in cats.
“Cats are innately inquisitive and therefore, it is only natural that they want to dive paws first into exploring all the new festive changes around your home. But cat parents shouldn’t forget that Christmas can be a stressful period for a cat. All the new changes around the house can interfere with the natural scent markers your cat leaves around the house as a mark of their territory. Disruptions in routines, new faces and all the shiny cat health hazards waiting to be played with, too, can be a source of stress.
Your Christmas tree can be extremely enticing to your cat, who is probably plotting strategies to climb it, if they haven’t already. My top tip for cat parents this Christmas is to never leave your cat unsupervised around your tree.
An underrated but effective way to reassure your cat this festive season, make sure you create lots of little hiding nooks with their favourite toys and snacks for them to retreat into when they get overwhelmed. Don’t suddenly change the position of their litter box to avoid distressing them further and don’t force them into cute Christmas outfits if they are not open to wearing them. Most importantly, spend time playing with them as much as you can so they continue to feel loved (and well-exercised) – this is the best gift you can offer them at Christmas.
With all the extra cooking happening, you may be tempted to treat your cat to some delicious scraps. It is unknown to many cat parents just how toxic human Christmas foods are for cats – from meats cooked in animal fat, to stuffing, rich mashed potatoes, bones, gravy and desserts containing alcohol. Be careful not to leave any food and alcohol lying about that may seem irresistible to your cat – stock up on pet treats before a big house party. If you have to treat your cat to human food, make sure it is unseasoned and free of animal fat and sugar. If your cat has eaten something that is making them sick, contact your local vet right away and take the packaging of the item in question if you have it so the vet is properly aware of the situation.”
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