With Christmas just weeks away, many of us are planning holidays, feasts and family getaways. For cats this can introduce a whole suite of new hazards and strange routines. To ensure your cat remains healthy throughout the holiday period, here are some common dangers to be aware of.
Top Five Christmas Dangers
Christmas trees. For a naturally curious and adventurous kitten, a Christmas tree is about exciting as life can get: shiny, sparkly and easy to climb. Within seconds a Christmas tree can topple over and take your cat with it. Make sure your Christmas tree is secured to a stand or weighted appropriately to stop it falling. Also, if you are using treated water in the base of your Christmas tree, be sure it is not accessible to your cat, as it’s highly toxic. If in doubt, just use plain water.
- Christmas lilies, holly and mistletoe. While gorgeous to look at, all lilies (and lily water) are toxic to cats, causing kidney failure and even death. Other Christmas plants like mistletoe and holly can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. If you suspect your cat has been in contact with any of these plants, go straight to the vet.
- Tinsel, ribbon and ornaments. It’s hard to keep a cat away from dangling tinsel or ribbon. However, both can easily lodge in their stomach or intestines, causing significant damage that often requires surgery. If left untreated, an accidentally swallowed fray of ribbon or tinsel can cause death. Also avoid tying ribbon or tinsel as a “collar” or “bow” as they are choking hazards. If you have low-hanging ornaments that your cat is likely to swat, make sure they are made from a safe material. Avoid ornaments with pins, hooks or glittery surfaces. As a rule of thumb, it’s only safe for you cat if it’s safe for a small child.
- Power cords and Christmas lights. A curious kitten can chew right through to the wires of electrical cords within minutes. To avoid your cat getting an electric shock, keep cords tidy and out of sight from your pets. Most hardware stores sell cord tidies to help with this.
- Change in routine. For many of us, Christmas is a time of celebration, social gatherings, guests and new schedules. For cats, who love routine and predictability, this change in environment can be extremely unsettling. If you are planning to entertain a lot this summer, create a safe space for your cat to go when guests arrive. Furnish it with your cat’s favourite bedding, toys and a water bowl. It’s best to get them used to this space before the Christmas period arrives.
Boarding your Cat
If you’re boarding your cat this summer, it’s important you are well prepared. Your choice of cattery will come down to a number of factors, including location, facilities and price. However it is critical that you choose a boarding facility that requires full vaccination of its animals – this will miminise the risk of your cat getting sick during his/her stay.
- Start researching boarding houses early. It may take a few weeks to find the right one for your pet.
- Find out the boarding house’s requirements as early as you can so you have time to do all your cat’s vaccinations.
- Vaccinate your pets at least 3 weeks before boarding as immunity can take several weeks to develop.
- Provide the boarding house with an outline of your pet’s medical history and current medication.
- Keep your pet’s medical history on file so you can easily access it next time.