When it comes to decorating for our favorite events, no season can match the effort that goes into decking the halls for the final month of the year. Between Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the New Year, it often seems that there’s no wall left bare, no mantlepiece found empty, and no front doors unadorned without a bit of decorative cheer. Humans can even get carried away when it comes to covering their entire front lawn in holiday lights, but are they the only ones?
Our pets are with us through every season, so they gear up for the end-of-year festivities as much as the rest of us. In fact, they may even bite off more decorations than they can chew—literally. While celebratory events can be a ton of fun for human family members, they can also end up being a real health hazard for our furry friends. If you have lost your favorite glass ornament(s) to your cat or caught your dog drinking directly from your steaming cup of hot chocolate, you know that keeping your pet safe during the holiday season can be a precarious endeavor.
ExcitedCats.com veterinarian Chyrle Bonk assures us that you can enjoy holiday traditions to the hilt as long as you plan accordingly for all your housemates. For example, take a moment to investigate which type of Christmas tree would cause your cat the least number of health risks. “Some types of real Christmas trees contain oils in their bark and needles that can cause mild irritation to a cat’s mouth and digestive system. While most cats won’t eat enough to make them very sick, there is always the concern.” An artificial tree may also be a solution; however, Bonk warns, “Fake needles can still be chewed and ingested, which can cause vomiting or create an intestinal blockage. They also tend to be lighter-weight which may make them easier to topple if your cat tries to climb them.”
When your cat is not trying to mount your tree, they may be opting to eat the trimmings. If this is your first Christmas with a feline (or a canine), you may be surprised by just how many bells and whistles resemble chew toys in the eyes of your four-legged friends. Bonk recommends anchoring your tree and any other large decorations to the wall or ceiling. She also suggests avoiding the use of ribbons and string decorations like garlands, as these are particularly enticing for cats and can easily cause major intestinal obstructions. The same goes for holiday lights. Leaving a string of twinklers dangling is an open invitation for your kitty to play with the cord, which could lead to electrocution. “Cover extension cords or light cords to keep pets from chewing them,” Bonk suggests. If you can’t stand the idea of not featuring a family heirloom ornament in your decorations, Bonk suggests using “shatterproof ornaments on the tree in case your cat knocks a few off,” and keeping the breakables in a no-touch area up high.
We can’t forget about the best part of all, a family dinner full of delicious treats for all—except your animals. “Leave your pets off the dinner guest list. Ham and turkey can contain a lot of fat that can cause vomiting and diarrhea, or more severely pancreatitis,” Bonk notes. That being said, it’s often hard for us to keep our pets excluded from the happiest moments of our year, so this is where moderation is key. “If you must share with them, only allow your pet a bite or two of the turkey or ham minus any fat or skin. Better yet, share plain cooked green beans or raw carrots from the veggie tray instead.”
Do’s and Don’ts For Pets Owners During The Holidays
• Do choose your Christmas tree carefully (Douglas fir and white pine are safe for pets)
• Do enjoy holiday costumes, pets included
• Do spray your tree with citrus oils as a safe way to keep your pets away
• Do use a decorative enclosure for your tree if need be (baby gates work well)
• Do anchor your Christmas tree to the wall or ceiling (whether real or fake)
• Don’t place fragile ornaments or décor in low or easy-to-reach areas
• Don’t leave your pet unsupervised in a room with burning candles
• Don’t share rich, sweet, or heavy foods with your pets (stick to small portions of meat or veggies, or nothing at all)
• Don’t use string, garlands, or ribbons on your tree or keep them out of reach
• Don’t let your pet ingest tree needles (real or fake)
ExcitedCats is fully dedicated to making sure its readers can include their cats in all aspects of their lives while maintaining the safety and health of their favorite felines. The veterinarian team at ExcitedCats recognizes that being a great pet parent requires having access to all the best veterinarian-approved information. Whether you are prepping for the holidays, a summer celebration, or you just want to know which new cat food to try, ExcitedCats offers detailed information and suggestions on everything under the sun. For more information on holiday-friendly cat projects and every topic feline-related, check out their site!
Written by Mary Davis.