Certain times of year are more difficult for some pets than others, and in this feature, we’re going to cover the considerations that cat owners need to make in the festive period. This time of year is all about fun and merriment, and your pet will ideally join in with all the fun too. However, with so much going on and various items in the home that are not there throughout the rest of the year, it is always worth taking a few extra steps to ensure that they are safe and healthy.
1. Cats Love Christmas Trees
You don’t need us to tell you how appealing a Christmas tree can be to our feline friends. Not only is it a new addition to the home once a year, but it is packed with shiny toys and baubles that can entertain them for hours. However, there are a few considerations you should make if you have cats in the home.
These trees can contain pesticides and other chemicals if you go for the genuine variety, some of which can be harmful to cats. Discourage them from trying to chew the leaves and if you water the tree, ensure that the water doesn’t pool anywhere that it could be used as drinking water.
2. Ensure that the Tree Stays Standing
Cats may not be overly big or bulky, but a jump at a tree from the wrong angle can soon see your pride and joy lying horizontally on the floor. That’s not only an annoyance in itself, but it can be dangerous for the cat too. A solid base helps and if that’s not enough, consider attaching the tree to the wall in a way that does not detract from the decorations. Indeed, if your tinsel is strong enough, that wrapped around the tree and nailed to the wall can get the job done with no loss of festive cheer.
3. Steer Clear of Ribbons and Loose Tinsel
Funnily enough, it is a decent idea to nail the tinsel to the wall anyway. Sparkly festive objects are hard to resist, and tinsel and ribbons are not difficult for even smaller cats to ingest. You may smirk when you think of what could come out the other end, but tinsel and ribbons can actually be quite dangerous. If it gets stuck in your cat and causes an obstruction, it might need to be surgically removed.
4. Festive Flowers should be Carefully Selected
If you’re a seasoned pet owner, you’ll know to steer clear of certain houseplants and flowers. Lillies are notoriously poisonous to cats, even if they do not affect humans. Pay particular attention around Christmas if you’re tempted to bring in holly and mistletoe. The former would be painful enough to eat anyway, but both can be toxic to cats if ingested.
5. When the Candles Come Out, Keep the Cat Away
This is a fairly obvious tip, but one that may be overlooked if you don’t have candles out all year round. Fire is particularly attractive to cats, and they do not inherently know the dangers of getting too close. The easy option is to avoid fire sources altogether, but if you absolutely must use candles as part of your display, do so in a position where curious cats can not reach them.
6. Keep Your Wires Tidy
We’re not aware of any such thing as wireless Christmas lights. However, their corded counterparts are an essential part of most people’s Christmas decoration ideas, so you need to ensure that you don’t leave too many trailing cables. If your cat can chew the wires, they can put themselves in danger. Even if they just get caught on them, there’s a chance they can bring down the entire display. Keep them off the floor, out of reach and preferably secured to the wall.
7. Go Easy on the Festive Feasts for Pets
Most people eat more around Christmas than at any other individual time of year, and there’s often a combination of their regular diet and traditionally festive food. There is no reason not to get your cat involved in these treats, but you shouldn’t lose sight of which foods can be bad for them. As a general rule, you should never forget that many cats are lactose intolerant, and foods that are high in fat or salt can also cause complications.
8. Don’t Make the Cat part of the Decorations
You might be tempted to dress your cat up as an elf or to wrap it in tinsel. Unless you’ve done it before and know that the cat loves the attention, it might be best not to. Most cats hate dressing up, and they detest anything on their heads more than anywhere else. It’s cute and fun, but be aware that you might cause your cat unnecessary stress if you’re determined to put it in an outfit.
9. Provide a Safe Space
While we’d prefer not to discuss stress extensively in a feature on Christmas, you don’t want to scare your pet at a time when everything is busier and noisier than usual. Cats are sensitive to sounds at the best of times, and they rarely fare well in unfamiliar surroundings or with strangers. Give your cat the opportunity to get involved if it wants to, but also give it a chance to get out of the way if it all becomes too much. Ideally, you’ll have a whole room you can dedicate to your cat where it can get some sleep, food and peace and quiet.
10. Plan Ahead if You Head Out
Don’t neglect your cat’s needs if you’re off to visit family in the festive season. If they can’t or won’t come with you, find a pet sitter. Cats tend to hate holiday homes and prefer familiar surroundings, so if you’re only away for one night, it might be worth just leaving them with enough food.