Whether you’re a die hard fan of the festive season, or a festive fan of Die Hard like me, (which absolutely counts as a Christmas film, by the way), our cats can get into all sorts of mischief at this time of year. Even if you – or they – do not observe this particular holiday, there are plenty of ways they can find themselves on the wrong end of a piece of tinsel, or lapping up a puddle of spilt eggnog.
Any of the dangers below could land you in the emergency vets over the holiday period, so before you let the good times roll, take a look around your home and make sure you keep these items out of the reach of your curious cat.
So in the spirit of cheesy Christmas carols, I give you: The 12 Dangers of Christmas.
🎵 On the 12th Day of Christmas, My Feline Tried to Eat… 🎶
12. Tasty Chocolates
As we all probably know, chocolate is actually toxic to pets, and that includes our cats. Packed full of theobromine and caffeine, this delicious sweet can cause dangerous elevations in heart rate, low blood pressure, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures. The darker the chocolate, the worse the effects.
11. Mince pies
Depending on the recipe being used, fruit mince pies are made with a number of ingredients, with sultanas and currants at the top of the list. Grapes, in any form, are highly toxic to cats (and dogs), and can result in kidney failure.
10. Christmas lilies
There are two types of lilies that might be around during the holiday season, true lilies, which are extremely toxic to cats, and the Christmas lily, which is not technically a lily. Amaryllis is a lily-like flower that is a popular decorative plant which can cause a life-threatening drop in blood pressure if cats eat the flower, leaves or stem, with the bulb of this plant being its most toxic part.
Every part of the traditional lily is highly toxic to cats, with most poisonings resulting from cats licking pollen that has brushed against their fur.
9. Fairy lights
Take an enticing wire and make it sparkly and bright; you’ve got a tempting toy for many playful felines. Electric shocks are a possibility if your curious cat decides to chew through the wire, but ingestion of the plastic and wires is probably the biggest worry.
8. Holly berries
These attractive red berries might look tasty, but they are actually toxic to cats, dogs, and humans. Fortunately the effects are not usually life threatening, but if your cat eats them, they can suffer with severe gastrointestinal upset including vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and pain.
7. Serves of Stuffing
Most stuffing contains garlic and onions, both of which are toxic to cats. They cause a severe anemia by damaging the red blood cells, which can take several days to become apparent.
6. Cups of Eggnog
Although this delicious holiday beverage is not as dangerous as some of the other items on our list, with ingredients like condensed milk, sugar, cream, nutmeg, cinnamon and brandy, this is not something that should end up in a cat’s saucer.
5. Types of Meat
Obviously cats eat meat, and meat is good for cats. However, the meat we enjoy in the holiday season is generally not prepared with the feline gastrointestinal system in mind. The high levels of fat, oil, and grease are a recipe for a major digestive disaster, and the gravy, stuffing and seasonings can be even more dangerous. Plain cooked meats are safe for your kitty, but keep the basted turkey and cured ham off their plate.
4. Poinsettia leaves
This beautiful plant with its bright red and green foliage is a firm festive favorite, and a great gift for the person who has everything! The milky sap is the primary problem, but the good news is that serious toxicity is quite rare. The most common complaints are skin irritation, drooling, and mouth pain, but some cats can end up with vomiting and diarrhea if they overindulge.
3. Christmas Puddings
Much like our fruit mince pies, sultanas and currants abound in Christmas cakes and puddings, so be sure to keep them out of reach.
This unassuming little plant might put a smile on your face and a kiss on your lips, but you’d better be sure to keep it up high where it belongs. Cats that munch on mistletoe can experience vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, even death, so if you’re hanging it from the ceiling, make sure it’s somewhere your curious cat can’t reach.
1. Baubles and strands of Tinsel
Cats don’t often end up at the vets for eating foreign objects, but the big exceptions are things like string, wool, cotton thread, or fishing line. And tinsel is just fancy looking string! They chase it, play with it, and occasionally chew and swallow it. These linear foreign bodies can get stuck in the intestines, causing them to bunch up and become obstructed, which is very dangerous.
Cats and glass baubles don’t mix. Notorious for playing with hanging ornaments, they can knock these fragile decorations off the tree, leaving shards of glass that can cut into their paws. If they manage to pull them down without breaking them, the bauble could shatter in their mouths if they are playing and chewing.
Now I don’t want you to start worrying that death and disaster is lurking around every corner this holiday season, but it’s always good to be aware of what problems could arise if your feline friend decides to climb your Christmas tree, help themselves to some holiday lunch, or munch on your festive floral arrangements. There are lots of ways to make things a bit safer for our cats this Christmas, but just in case, be sure to check the holiday arrangements of your veterinary practice, and keep the number of a Pet Poisons Hotline close by.
From my family to yours, have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyful Winter Solstice, or just enjoy spending time with loved ones over the holiday season. May your days be furry and bright.
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