With Christmas coming upon us fast, it's an exciting time but it's a time of year that can be a little stressful for pets and especially cats. A lot of cats get wary when strangers appear in their homes and the added noise of the festivities can stress them out too. Obviously not all cats will run away and hide, but many do sneak off to quieter areas of the house when lots of people show up at Christmas time.
Below are a few tips on how to make sure your moggy stays safe and happy over the Christmas period.
Cats just cannot help themselves when it comes to playing with Christmas tree decorations, very often knocking it over or pulling the tree down. There's no real way of stopping your pet from doing this apart from setting up the tree in a room where pussy cat does not go in – as it's usually the front room, this is not really an option. The best way to keep the tree as safe as you can is to anchor it down strongly so if puss does decide to climb it, there is less chance of it coming down.
The real danger to cats are the pine needles which are toxic to felines. If the tree has roots, make sure it is well watered all over Christmas to prevent the needles from dropping too much. The other option is to buy a tree that doesn't shed its needles or to put up a fake tree – some of which are pretty realistic looking these days. Another good idea is to place the tree away from any furniture which your cat could use as launching pads to get on the tree!
Tinsel is another thing to watch out for if you have a cat in the home. Should they play with this, chew on it and swallow it, the tinsel can cause all sorts of intestinal problems including blockages which have to be considered as very serious and would need immediate surgery. It's a good idea to place the tinsel as high on the tree as possible so puss can't get hold of it.
You could also spray some cat repellent around the tree and on the Christmas tree light wires to prevent pussy cat from chewing on them. If they did it could end up giving them a fatal electric shock. Other things to avoid putting on your Christmas tree or in/on other areas of your home include the following:
Everyone loves to decorate their homes at Christmas time with traditional festive plants like mistletoe, holly and poinsettias. They add to the Christmas spirit in a really nice way. However, all of these plants are toxic to cats so it could be an idea to invest in fake mistletoe, holly and poinsettias so pussy cat stays safe. The good news is that fake plants look very realistic these days and you get to use them again and again!
Lots of owners like to give their cats a “human” treat from time to time which is great as long as it is only occasionally. But when there are lots of people around, you need to make sure everyone is aware of the fact that certain foods are highly toxic to cats!
Cats should never be given any cooked turkey bones because they could end up splintering and getting lodged in your cat's throat. They can also puncture your cats' stomach or intestines – causing lots of distress and pain to your pet which would need veterinary attention.
Everyone knows that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but it is also toxic to cats and the darker the chocolate happens to be, the more toxic it is. If you think your cat has ingested any, you would need to get them to the vet as soon as possible – signs to watch out for are vomiting and restlessness.
You should make sure all leftovers are disposed of safely. If you have chickens they will love a few scraps (not turkey or chicken though). However, cats are very likely to scavenge in the bins and if there is food with foil on it, this could cause a real problem for your cat. Make sure all turkey bones are well disposed of where your cat (or dog) can't get at them.
It's great when everyone opens their presents on Christmas morning – it's all very exciting especially for younger children (and adults!). However, the paper and ribbons used to wrap them can be quite dangerous to cats if they chew on them and then swallow them. They can cause intestinal blockages which have to be treated immediately, so it's really important to dispose of all wrapping paper, ribbons, tape and anything really safely so your cat can't play with them.
In general cats are social creatures but when lots of visitors and strangers show up in their houses, it can prove just a little too much for them to cope with. Christmas can be a stressful time for a cat with people coming and going all the time, so it's really important they have somewhere quiet, where they feel safe and where they can escape to if they feel the need to run away and hide. This is especially true if lots of young children are around over the Christmas period.
If you are planning to spend Christmas day away from home with family and friends or will be spending a few days away, you have to make arrangements for your cat. If it's just the day you are away, make sure your cat is nice and safe at home, with plenty of food and fresh clean water and a clean litter tray. However, if you are going to be away for a couple of days or more, you would need to either find a cattery or organise a pet sitter to look after your cat for the time you're not around. It is really important to choose a reputable cattery so you have the peace of mind your pet is being well looked after.
Making sure your cat is happy and safe over the Christmas period takes a bit of planning and organisation. The last thing you would want is for them to get hurt or sick over the festive season. Remember even though Christmas is exciting, it is also often a pretty chaotic time – so keeping your pets safe is really important. One thing you must never do is think that offering a kitten as a present to someone for Christmas would make a great gift – this is a real “no no” because taking on a pet of any kind is a massive responsibility that needs careful thought.