If you're one of those people who starts shopping for and putting up Christmas home decor in October, you aren't alone. But did you know that there are several festive decor items that can be harmful to your kitty?
From your tree itself to snow globes, pet parents need to be cautious of what's within Fluffy's reach this holiday season.
Not to worry, though. You don't have to skip decorating altogether.
Here's what you need to know about your tried-and-true holiday decor items, plus what you can do to keep your kitty safe.
Christmas Tree Dangers
The tree is the focal point of your Christmas home decor, but many cats find it hard to resist. It's so shiny! So intriguing!
Unfortunately, though, it's also full of potential hazards.
Climbing the Tree
Your cat's impulse to climb the Christmas tree can cause the whole beautiful thing to come crashing down – especially if it has an unstable base. Not only will there be a big mess to clean up, but also your kitty and anyone nearby at the time could get seriously injured.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to prevent this fun-ending scenario from happening.
First, make sure your kitty is never alone with the Christmas tree. Place your tree in a space in your home that can be closed off from your curious cat, or give Fluffy her own room to nap in while you're away from the house.
In the event that your smart kitty makes her way to the tree, make sure to have a heavy, secure base holding it steady. The experts at Preventive Vet recommend using a Christmas Tree Defender – a tree-colored barrier that attaches to your tree's trunk and prevents your kitty from making her way into and up the tree.
For added security against particularly determined kitties, tether your tree to a wall or secure high point to prevent it from being easily pulled over.
Tinsel & String
Tinsel may seem synonymous with "Christmas home decor," but it can be particularly dangerous to curious kitties. Cats have little hooks on their tongues called papillae. Tinsel, ribbon, and strings from garlands of popcorn and cranberries can easily get latched onto these little hooks – and they're tough to untangle from a squirming kitty!
If your cat manages to accidentally eat the tinsel, it can then cause blockages in her intestines and can lead to internal bleeding, in severe cases, and can even be fatal.
The best way to keep your fur baby from eating tinsel is to not use it at all. It's not worth worrying that it will cause your kitty to get painfully sick. (Besides, it's a pain to clean up after the New Year, am I right?!)
Dangling ornaments are another potential hazard. Their shimmering surfaces invite curious cats in, making them more interested in your Christmas tree than you want them to be.
If one of these ornaments gets batted off the tree and breaks, some kitties lose their senses and may step on or even eat pieces of the busted ornament. Not good!
If you have fragile ornaments you're eager to display this year, make sure they're hung higher in the tree, out of the reach of batting paws. Softer, harmless decorations or shatter-proof baubles can be hung on lower branches.
Whether you prefer white lights or rings of color, they're all intriguing to your kitty. If your playful cat decides to chew on the electrical wires, it can make for one painful – and possibly lethal – zap.
When you're not around, it's best to either keep the lights off or your kitty safely away from the tree. Exposed cords should be covered with plastic or cardboard tubes to prevent the possibility of them being chewed.
If your kitty just can't leave electrical cords alone, then battery-powered LED lights are a safer option.
Christmas Home Decor Concerns
Of course, you're likely decorating more than just the Christmas tree this year. Decorations around your home can pose a serious hazard to curious felines, especially if they're placed on or near Fluffy's usual stomping ground.
Some snow globes, for example, contain antifreeze. If your kitty playfully knocks one off the counter – a popular cat hobby – and breaks it, she may ingest the antifreeze if she licks it or her paws after tracking through the mess.
Even if your cat isn't prone to licking strange substances, the antifreeze can get on her fur, which she may consume later during a grooming session.
If you still have the snowglobe packaging, check to see what chemicals are contained inside the globe. If you aren't sure, keep them out of reach of your fur baby just in case.
Anything breakable poses a risk to curious cats because, as we all know, they like to sweep off a table full of goodies with a swipe of a paw. To protect Christmas breakables and to prevent injuries, only place breakable Christmas home decor items out of Fluffy's reach.
Poisonous Christmas Plants
Your Christmas home decor might not feel complete without beautiful flowers and berries, but according to the Pet Poison Helpline, many are toxic to your fur babies.
Poinsettias are the least-toxic on the list, but they can still cause some discomfort if your kitty nibbles on them or become exposed to the milky sap.
If ingested, these plants can cause gastrointestinal distress (vomiting or, rarely, diarrhea). The sap can also cause skin irritation.
Usually, medical treatment isn't necessary if your kitty eats or gets exposed to the sap of your poinsettias, but you'll want to keep a close eye on her and monitor her condition.
To prevent any discomfort, keep the plants completely out of reach.
Holly Berries, Rosemary & Mistletoe
All three can cause gastrointestinal distress, to some degree. Holly can also cause mouth and digestive injuries due to the plant's spiny leaves. Rosemary, although not technically considered toxic to cats, can cause stomach upset if consumed in large amounts. Luckily, kitties dislike the smell and tend to avoid it.
Mistletoe of the European variety is the most dangerous of the three. The American variety is not as toxic and, for the most part, it's usually hung from the ceiling out of Kitty's reach. However, if your cat does happen to consume large amounts, mistletoe can cause seizures, hypotension, collapse, and even death.
As lovely as they are, lilies are the most dangerous popular holiday plants to your fur babies. Just a couple bites of the lily's petals can result in severe kidney failure.
If you've received a bouquet of flowers or if you're using lilies to decorate this holiday season (which we do not recommend), keep them far out of reach of your fur baby or consider taking them to work or another location to enjoy them while your kitty remains safely at home.
Help for Accidental Ingestion
If your precious kitty does ingest something she shouldn't this holiday season, be sure to call your vet's emergency line right away. Most vets have emergency personnel on staff over the holidays.
The ASPCA also has its own poison control hotline with experts who can tell you exactly what to do based on what your kitty has ingested.
With a few safety precautions, you can deck the halls with your favorite Christmas home decor and a healthy, happy kitty for the holiday season.
Do you have an extra-mischievous kitty? Tell us about your holiday kitty troubles in the comments below so we can all brace ourselves and prevent mishaps in our kitty-filled homes.
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