By: Robin Desmet – Dec. 2016
December—-a time to share the joys of the season with family and friends. But in addition to the fun, the holidays can be a dangerous time for our furry friends. A little caution and awareness this time of year can help keep your pet safe so that you can enjoy the holidays and avoid a trip to the vet.
If you are a cat parent, you are probably already aware of the potential for mischief and mayhem that cats can bring to any situation. Add lights, shiny objects, ribbon, and paper and you’ve got trouble. Try to wrap presents with your cat in the room and you’ll know what I mean. Keep the paper but nix the ribbons and bows to keep your cat safe. Ribbons, bows, and strings can easily be ingested and can cause gastrointestinal problems and blockages in your cat.
Decorative holiday plants abound this time of year. Although you always hear about the dangers of the Poinsettia plant, they are actually not poisonous and are considered only mildly irritating, unless they are treated with pesticides or ingested in large quantities. Holly and Mistletoe, on the other hand, are poisonous to cats. Mistletoe can cause severe stomach upset, reduced blood pressure, seizures, and death. Lilies and Amaryllis are also toxic to cats. Lilies can cause vomiting, abnormal heart rhythms and kidney failure, and Amaryllis can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and tremors. What is a safe holiday plant? – The Christmas cactus.
The Christmas tree can pose many dangers to your beloved pet. My cats generally gaze at the tree in wonder and curl up contentedly beneath the branches, occasionally removing a favorite ornament and bringing it me as a present. But some cats thrive on drama. They chew the needles and the electrical cords. They ingest the tinsel, break the ornaments, and even knock the tree down. If you have one of those cats, it is actually a bit safer to have an artificial tree than a real tree. The needles of the Christmas tree are sharp and can be dangerous to cats if swallowed. This can result in nausea and vomiting, bowel obstruction, or intestinal puncture. Pine oil is toxic to cats and can cause anything from nausea and vomiting to liver damage. The water at the base of the tree can contain chemicals and pine resin and is highly toxic to cats.
Decorating the tree can be a challenge to many cat owners. For years I decorated my tree with delicate, breakable ornaments that I collected from a lifetime of travel. Then came the foster kittens. I replaced all of the breakables with a pile of soft, plush ornaments with one trip to Target. I’ll take kittens over crystal any day of the week. If you have cats in the house, tinsel is a definite no. This material is easily ingested and can cause intestinal obstruction. Frayed or damaged electrical cords can cause burns and electric shock. Make sure your tree base is secure so that your tree is not easily toppled.
Oh, and forget about artificial snow spray -.and chocolate – toxic and toxic.
You could say that I’m taking all the fun out of the holidays. What is Christmas without bows, ribbons, and shiny, breakable stuff? Forget the things and remember the true meaning of Christmas.
Get together with friends and family and take some time to bring joy to others. Make a donation to your favorite charity. Pour yourself a candy cane martini and watch your favorite Christmas movie. And remember what your cat really wants for Christmas—some quality time with you.
You can email Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org