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Winter Holiday Cat Safety Tips for Your Pet

Winter Holiday Safety Tips for Your Cat

The holidays can be a wonderful — if somewhat harried — time, not just for humans, but for our pets as well. Cats, especially, who generally tend to appreciate a calmer, more routine existence, may begin to feel a bit overwhelmed by busy families who are finishing last-minute holiday errands, a never-ending stream of guests and new smells and decorations, among other things. Before you pull out the tinsel and poinsettias, here are some things to consider when it comes to your cat’s comfort this time of year.

How to decorate for the holidays with cats in mind

Remember that while you may love all the holiday bits and baubles you pull out from the crawlspace to decorate with, some of those items may be dangerous for your feline friend. Since cats are curious by nature and will be attracted to shiny, blinking and sparkling things, here are some things to keep in mind when decorating this year:

  • Keep strings of lights and garland away from cats so they don’t become tangled in them
  • Avoid objects that could potentially be swallowed, like tinsel and ribbon
  • Consider electric candles rather than real ones, since cats attracted to the flickering light could burn themselves or knock the candle over
  • Keep fragile ornaments that cats may try and bat off your tree high up (or avoid them altogether)
  • Ensure that your tree is secure and, if possible, in an area where your cat can’t get to it to climb
  • Cover tree stand water that could contain harmful tree oils and bacteria to keep your cat from drinking it
  • Keep holiday plants out of reach of cats who may try and nibble them
Cat in bed in front of gifts

Are poinsettia plants poisonous to cats?

While poinsettia plants are generally not deadly to cats, if ingested, they can cause stomach issues, vomiting and swelling of the tissue in the mouth and throat. Another popular holiday plant — Amaryllis — invokes the same reaction.

However, other holiday plants can be poisonous to cats, so keep your pet away from mistletoe, holly, yew and lilies. Pine needles are also dangerous for cats as the oils are toxic and the needs can cause internal obstructions. So when picking your Christmas tree, opt for a different variety or, even better, get a beautiful fake one with soft bristles.

What to do if a cat hides from visitors

Whether you’re throwing a huge holiday shindig or just expecting a couple of guests for dinner, there’s always a chance that your cat — especially if they tend to be shy, anyway — might not welcome the intrusion. If you’re having people over and your cat hides, keep the following in mind:

  1. Remember that this is normal behavior. It’s pretty common for cats to avoid loud noises, unfamiliar smells or anything else that tends to differ from their normal routine. With that in mind, you can focus on ways to make it a more pleasant experience for everyone, including your nervous furry friend.
  2. Provide a safe, quiet space. If your cat is particularly skittish around your holiday guests, consider setting up a quiet, calm area where they can feel safe and remain unbothered. Make it a room that’s away from the fray and consider bringing your cat’s food, water and litter into this area so they don’t have to leave. Providing a favorite bed, comfy blanket and toys can help calm the nerves of an out-of-sorts cat, as well.
  3. Get additional help. For some added help, cat pheromone spray or diffusers can provide an extra calming effect.

How to enjoy the holidays with your cat

Once you’ve safely decorated, kept any hazardous items at bay and provided a calm and safe spot for your cat to avoid any guests, it’s time to focus on enjoying the holidays with your beloved furry friend. Some easy ways to do that include:

  • Include their likeness as part of the décor. Keep your cat part of holiday spirit even when they aren’t in the room by including them in the décor. Petco has a full line of ornaments that you can personalize to your pet, including engraving your pet’s name in them, adding a photo or putting a paw print in clay. It’s a memory that’ll last for years to come.
  • Start a tradition. Whether it’s a certain homemade treat or gift that your cat only gets at this special time of year, an outing (if your cat enjoys that kind of thing) or something else, creating a tradition to share with your cat every year at this time will make it even more fun to celebrate.
  • Slow down and savor the moment. Things can get quite hectic this time of year, so be sure to build in some extra down time to spend cuddling your cat. It’s the perfect opportunity to show just how much we love them all year-round.

With a little thought and planning, the holiday season can be an extra special time for you and your cat.