Environmental

Christmas Dangers for Cats

Trent Webb

Cats may have nine lives but there are twelve days of Christmas, and the festivities bring with them some extra hazards for cats. Some are obvious and merit repetition, others are slightly more left-field and need highlighting. So play on the safe side and have a read of our Christmas safety tips and Christmas dangers for cats – then they can play on the safe side too!

String’s the thing!

Beware of special green string (as a cat would see it) or power cables (in human eyes) as there is an obvious risk of electrocution if your cat decides to shred the cable powering the Christmas tree lights. Where possible keep cables covered and ensure they don’t dangle or wriggle in a cat attracting manner.

If you’ve got a cable-chewer for a cat, why not consider moving to battery-powered lights? They’re far less dangerous from a shock perspective.

Energizer kitty

Some cats will pick the weirdest toys. Make sure one of these is not a battery, as cats have a powerful enough bite to puncture the casing and the contents can burn the mouth and throat. C, AA and AAA are the most likely to get bitten, while the coin-sized ‘watch-style’ batteries are the ones that will get swallowed.

Line of fire

Candles and cats are a combustible combination. There is a real risk of burns to an excited tail or flank if the cat brushes past in that “I’ll try and knock that over” way. Keep lit candles either in lanterns (ie totally enclosed) or only burn them in places the cat can’t get to. And if you leave an unattended cat in the same room as a burning candle – make sure your pet and house insurance is fully up-to-date!

Cats love to brush past things, and a burning candle is no exception. The results can be disastrous, so never let them mix, especially unsupervised!

Pictures of Lily

Lilies are toxic for cats, and at this time of year, they can suddenly appear in bouquets of flowers from well-meaning visitors. Poinsettias can have a similar toxic effect and be a real Christmas danger for cats, as can some of the decorative berries. So if someone brings flowers, be sure to check to see what that particular bunch contains. If the bouquet contains anything you’re not sure about – just keep the flowers and the cat apart. They’d look lovely in the downstairs loo! The flowers that is.

Out of their tree

Cats love shiny sparkly things. Cats love to climb. So combining them both in the form of a Christmas tree seems like a recipe for disaster. Now your cat may not be a climber or often fascinated by lights, but a small percentage will find it irresistible. Toppled trees are not just a nuisance, there is a risk of puncture wounds and cuts from broken baubles. So make sure your tree has a good heavy base – and maybe tether it to a wall as you would for tall furniture.

When it comes to tree decorations, tinsel and angel hair can easily be ingested and cause blockages. Attach decorations firmly and always put them well above your cat’s eye line and paw swipe height. And never, never, ever add fuel to the fire by putting catnip toys or tasty cats treat on the tree as presents. If you do, it will end badly.

Take care while cooking Christmas lunch. With more pots on the go than usual there is a greater risk of spills scalding a cat underfoot. While juggling space in the oven means there are a lot more piping hot meats on work surfaces where they can be cat burgled! Hot stolen foods can burn the mouth and can upset stomachs!

Rosebud…

Snow globes have recently become something of a Christmas staple. They’re lovely but the viscous liquid that lets the shaken snowfall slowly is often ethylene glycol – or anti-freeze! Should the globe smash or leak, this liquid presents as a proper Christmas danger for cats. Cats weirdly love the taste of anti-freeze yet is very, very toxic for them. If ingested it can cause neurological damage and vomiting within an hour and then renal failure. If you have snow globes, keep them well away from the edges and ledges where they can be knocked off and clean up any leaks as thoroughly as possible.

Bags and boxes

Your cat loves Christmas because it makes every day boxing day, with much hopping in and out fun. But sacks and bags present a different problem, as many cats can’t resist rushing straight the bottom of any biggish bag left on the floor. Polythene bags are an obvious suffocation risk, so they should be used, then removed from the room. The danger of a paper sack is perhaps more invidious, as cats can hide for hours in them. A tipsy human unsure of their footing later in the day may step on a sack on the floor or kick it out of the way as they lurch around – and unwittingly hurt a hiding cat. So with any sack it is always best to assume the cat’s inside.

Don’t let these tales of woe ruin Christmas. Spend some time with your cat, give them a groom, have a proper play with them with the toys you know are safe. Then get that special sachet of turkey you bought for lunch out of the cupboard.

This Christmas dangers for cats post is an opinion and should only be used as a guide. You should discuss any change to your pet’s care or lifestyle thoroughly with your vet before starting any program or treatment.

If in doubt contact your veterinary practice

And always keep your vet's phone number handy - just in case!