No matter how low-maintenance your cat is (or laidback your parenting style), the reality is that emergency vet visits happen at this time of year, and that many of these are completely avoidable. So take the time to put a safety plan in place for your kitty, for the festive season, and beyond.
We asked our vets for their best tips to keep your cat safe this festive season. Here’s the top 5:
1. Know what’s toxic, and avoid. Did you know that many Christmassy foods are toxic to cats? Chocolate, sultanas, raisins, grapes, onions, garlic, just to name a few, and these are key ingredients in many dishes such as mince pies, plum pudding, Christmas cake, sweet platters, stuffing for meats, and fruit platters. If these are reachable to your cat – i.e a low table – they are at risk. Alcohol is also a no. There is actually no safe amount of alcohol that your cat can consume. So avoid all together.
2. Feed normally. Avoid the urge to overfeed and treat. You need to take control here on behalf of your kitty. Overindulgence in cats or that is rich and high in fat (such as barbeque meats, ham etc) can lead to gut pain, vomiting, diarrhoea and even cause pancreatitis (which can be deadly).
3. Be fireworks ready. Have a plan for anxious cats – loud noises such as thunder and fireworks are a common source of anxiety. If your cat is affected by anxiety you need to make sure they are secure in the home and that they have a safe space they love that they can retreat to and hide for comfort. Also consider calming products such as anti-anxiety diffusers which are synthetic pheromones based on feline happy pheromones. Some cats require medication as well.
4. Be Christmas tree wise. Many things can go wrong here – infections from drinking bacteria loaded stagnant water the tree is sitting in, electrocution from chewing tree lights, obstruction or injury from eating glass or other decorations including tinsel, and gut irritation from eating pine tree needles. So your safety plan includes:
- Cover around the tree stand water
- Plastic cover around the electric cord of the lights
- No glass decorations (keep to plastic or non-breakable)
- Secure decorations so they can’t fall or be easily pulled off
- Tinsel up high where it can’t be reached (or none!)
- Tree must be stable so it won’t be easily pushed over
5. Avoid ribbon on presents. Cats and kittens love to play with ribbon and string and if eaten these can cause a foreign body obstruction of the gut requiring surgery.