Sunday, December 1, 2013

Do You Know the Top 5 Holiday Hazards for Cats?

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

1. Decorations
Breakable ornaments and decorations that are knocked over can lead to skin or paw wounds.  Ideally they should be placed where cats cannot access them.  Strands of tinsel or garland that are ingested can potentially cause a serious intestinal blockage and therefore use of garland or tinsel should be avoided.  Some adventurous cats will attempt to climb and potentially knock down trees, harming your cat and damaging your prized heirlooms.  Consider placing the tree in a corner or anchoring it to help avoid accidents.  If using a live tree, make sure the water source is protected from your cat, especially when using commercially prepared mixes or additives to increase the tree's freshness, as they may be toxic.  To prevent electrocution, consider electrical cord covers or protectors if you cat seems interested in playing with or chewing on the cords. Candles should definitely be kept out of your cat's reach to prevent burns or house fires.

2. Presents/ Ribbon
Certain presents may contain food items that smell enticing to your cat, even through packaging and wrapping paper.  Be sure to store these items safely away from your cat.  Cats love to play with string like items and even chew on them.  Ribbon can cause a serious intestinal blockage, if ingested.

3. Table scraps/Trash
During food preparation, during holiday parties and dinners, and after festivities, there are more food items out in the open than usual.  Confining your feline away from these tasty temptations can be necessary to avoid unwanted sampling.  Some cats may even explore the trash.  Many people foods can potentially cause vomiting or diarrhea and other foods can even be toxic to your cat.  Caution your guests against feeding any snacks to your pets. The ASPCA Poison Control website has a list of toxic people foods.

4. Guests
During the hustle and bustle of friends and family members coming and going, a cat can easily slip out the front door by accident.   Your cat may be scared and not appreciate being approached by strangers, possibly resulting in scratches or even a bite wound.  During holiday parties and dinners, the safest place for your cat is enclosed in a quiet room with their food, water, and litterbox.  As an extra precaution, have your cat wear an ID collar or be microchipped.

5. Plants
Most people are aware that poinsettias can make cats ill, but they may not realize that is also the case with certain pine trees, holly, and even mistletoe.  All of these plants can cause vomiting, however mistletoe can be deadly.  Be very careful with your placement of these plants if you decide to use them or if guests bring them to your house. The ASPCA Poison Control website has a comprehensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants. 

Remember that Sunday, December 8th is the PAWSitively CATS Cat Lover's Holiday Celebration.  Click here for more details.

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