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Holiday Hazards

Holiday Hazards: Get Your Cat through the Holiday Season without a Trip to the Vet
Decking the halls, trimming the tree, holiday baking… the holidays are a fun and festive time, but they present unique health hazards to your pet that don’t exist during other seasons.  Keep your kitty safe and healthy this year by taking some basic precautions.

Avoid Tinsel Tragedy
Those glittering strands hanging from your Christmas tree can pose problems to your cat’s digestive tract if eaten.  Tinsel, if ingested by a playful pet, can tangle in your cat’s gastrointestinal tract, leading to emergency surgery or in worst case scenarios, even death.  Find pet-friendly alternatives to tree-decking materials like tinsel and ribbon.

On a separate note, your Christmas tree stand may seem like a pine-scented water bowl to your cat, but can actually contain fertilizers, pesticides or bacteria.  It’s a good idea to keep the water covered with a piece of cardboard cut to fit around the trunk, to keep your pet from taking a dangerous drink.

Keep Your Cat Away from the Kitchen
Most people spend a higher than average time in the kitchen during the holiday season, baking cookies, sweets, and elaborate family meals.  Some of these treats could prove dangerous to your pet:

  • Chocolate:  Humans love it and so do pets.  In small doses, it can be good for us, but for them, even small doses can be dangerous.  The toxin “theobromine” can cause jumpiness, vomiting, intestinal distress, and sometimes death.  Dark chocolate and bakers chocolate contain the highest amounts of theobromine, but just to be safe, hide it all from your cats – dogs too, if you have them.
  • Stick to the Diet:  Diet rules tend to be more lax around the holidays.  It might seem okay to slip your cat some turkey or a little bit of ham for a treat, but their tummies won’t agree.  Diet crashing is not deadly for pets, but can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and painful bloating.  To share the joys of holiday eating with your kitties, buy them some Christmas-themed pet treats at your local pet store.  They will appreciate the taste, and their tummies will appreciate the pet-friendly nutrition.
  • No Bones about It:  Most pet owners have had their garbage bins tipped and raided during the night at least once.  Keep a closer eye and a tighter lid on the trash bin this time of year, as certain tasty-looking bones can splinter when chewed and some colorful wrappers and foils can cause intestinal issues.  Even discarded bread dough poses a threat: it can swell up painfully in your kitty’s stomach and require surgical removal.
  • Alcohol:  Not bad for humans when consumed in moderation, alcohol can actually cause a coma in your cat (or dog).  If your pet gets access to that holiday martini, he or she will get very drunk from only a small amount, and possibly contract alcohol poisoning leading to weakness, coma, or death.

With the whirlwind of cooking and cleaning that goes on in your kitchen this time of year, pets are best left in another room.  It’s too easy to step on a tail, smoosh a paw, or worse: trip and possibly drop a pan of boiling water, causing injury to you or the fuzzy critter you love.


Christmas Lights are Pretty, but…
Keep your cats away from cords!  Lots of kitties like to chew, and we all know what a bad idea that is with electrical cords.  Your pet could cause a fire or severely burn his or her tongue, which can actually cause the lungs to fill with fluid and result in respiratory distress.  If your pet has bitten through a cord, take him or her to the vet immediately.

Poisonous Holiday Plants should stay out of Reach
The stories surrounding poinsettia are well known to all pet owners: that poinsettia is toxic and can cause immediate death.  Contrary to popular belief, poinsettia can cause irritation to the mouth and stomachs of dogs and cats, but it’s not as dangerous as once thought (though they should still be kept in cat-inaccessible areas).  There are other holiday plants that are more deadly and should be avoided by cat owners altogether:

  • Mistletoe:  Ingesting some varieties of mistletoe can cause an upset stomach while others can cause liver failure or seizures.  If mistletoe is traditional at your house, make sure that it is secured well to the doorway or go with the plastic variety.  It’s dangerous for kids and dogs too.
  • Lilies:  Beautiful and stately, lilies are often used in holiday floral displays.  Varieties such as Tiger, Stargazer, and Asian lilies can cause renal failure in cats. 
  • Holly Berries:  These pretty and eye-catching red berries can cause lethargy and stomach or gastrointestinal upset (like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea) when ingested by cats.

While the holidays may now seem like a disastrous minefield full of potential hazards, you can keep your pet safe and healthy by arming yourself with information and taking a few simple precautions.  Keeping certain food items, alcohol, plants, and dangerous items out of reach will ensure that you don’t spend your holiday in a veterinarian’s office.

Wishing you and your pets a safe and Happy Holiday!!

-Boutique Kittens
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