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Holiday and Seasonal Safety Tips for Cats

Written by Emily Burt, Nursing Team.

The holidays are approaching and with all the fun, family, friends, and food come some hazards for our pets. Here are a few things that everyone with cats should keep in mind.

As winter approaches and we prepare our homes, there are some toxins that might be more available to our pets. Antifreeze can often taste sweet to animals, but can rapidly be fatal. Additionally, deicing products used on windshields as well as on sidewalks and driveways can be toxic, though rarely lethal. They can cause localized irritation to the paws as well as the GI tract if ingested. Even salt can be dangerous, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and even tremors in large amounts. It is very important to keep kitties away from these items.

We all like to share a "treat" with our cats at the holidays, but there are many people foods that are dangerous. Never allow your cat access to animal bones. They can splinter and become lodged in or puncture their throat or digestive tract. Chocolate contains methylxanthines which can cause GI upset, excessive thirst, hyperactivity, and even death. The darker the chocolate, the more methylxanthines it contains. Xylitol, used as a sweetener in many gums and candies, can cause insulin release leading to liver failure. Also, beware of feeding your cat(s) rich, spicy or fatty foods they are not used to eating as they can cause intestinal upset which is no fun for you or your cat.

Additionally, this time of year we often have plants in our homes which can pose a risk. Poinsettias, while having a terrible reputation, usually cause GI upset at the most. Mistletoe is far more dangerous, as it can cause heart problems. Many Christmas trees are grown with pesticides and fertilizers which can leach into the water they are in. Additionally, many people add fertilizer to the water to keep the tree green longer. If you have amaryllis bulbs around, be sure to keep them out of reach because they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and tremors. All of these can pose a toxicity risk for your cat.

Decorations pose choking, obstruction, and laceration hazards. Tinsel is bright and attractive. It can become wrapped around your kitty or be ingested where it can tangle in the GI tract. Ornaments can be deadly in the mouths and stomachs of cats, especially glass ones. Be sure to keep these out of reach. It is probably best to deny your cat access to the tree anytime when you cannot observe them.

This is a wonderful time to spend with those we love, and the more we know about the potential hazards, the better we will be able to protect our feline friends so that we can all have Happy Holidays.

For more information, please check out the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center and The Cat Fancier’s Association.

Published on May 21, 2017.

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