1. Poinsettias, mistletoe, holly, and lilies
Before you dress up the dinner table with an array of festive flowers, it’s important to make sure those are safe for cats. Poinsettias are very popular during the holiday season, but their sap can upset your cat’s stomach. Mistletoe causes the same, relatively mild gastrointestinal problems, but in rare cases your cat may develop cardiovascular problems as a result of the ingestion. Holly is not only spiky; the leaves and berries are poisonous as well, causing drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. Finally, and most importantly, watch out for lilies! These flowers are incredibly toxic to cats and can prove lethal when ingested. Even the pollen is dangerous, so in a household with cats, lilies are a definite no-go!
2. The Christmas tree
While plastic trees are relatively safe, the “real” ones pose some hidden dangers. Store-bought trees are often treated with toxic preservatives and fire retardants that can make your cat ill when ingested. In addition, the trees produce pine sap that can upset your cat’s stomach, and drop needles that can cause gastrointestinal blockages or, in very rare cases, punctured intestines. For more hidden dangers, read our Spotlight article on how to cat-proof your Christmas tree.
3. Tinsels, angel hair and fake snow
Fake snow is oh so pretty, but when your cat ingests large quantities of the stuff, they might become violently ill. A more immediate danger, however, is posed by tinsels and angel hair. While tinsel is made out of plastic, angel hair is actually very finely spun glass. Both should be kept away from your cat, as these decorations are very likely to cause severe intestinal blockages when swallowed.
4. Snow globes
As long as they remain intact, snow globes are perfectly safe for your cat. It’s what’s inside that poses the danger. Snow globes are filled with ethylene glycol, also known as antifreeze. This liquid is so incredibly toxic that when your cat ingests even 1/8th of a tablespoon per pound of body weight, this can prove lethal. Ethylene glycol is highly appealing to cats due to its sweet taste, so always keep snow globes and antifreeze way out of reach of your cat!
5. Glass baubles and ornaments
All those shiny, dangling Christmas ornaments make excellent cat toys, or so your cat thinks. When glass baubles shatter, the shards can injure your feline’s sensitive paws. Make sure to hang any breakable decorations near the top of your tree, so they sit safely out of reach of your cat.
6. Mains-powered Christmas lights
Some cats are prolific chewers. If your cat is one of them, make sure to keep any electrical wires out of your cat’s reach to avoid electrocution. An even safter option are battery-powered Christmas lights with a battery compartment that can be screwed shut.
Candles are one of the more obvious dangers around Christmas time. Cats aren’t likely to sniff the flame, but they can burn their sensitive whiskers or luscious fur just by walking past. To prevent any accidents from happening, leave “real” candles behind and switch to LED candles with a battery compartment that can be screwed shut.
8. Meat strings
Cats tend to have a fascination with strings and ribbons, but the meat strings that are used to tie the joints of your Christmas roast together are of course even more appealing to your cat. What makes them extra dangerous is that their disappearance easily goes unnoticed when your cat steals the string away to make a tasty meal out of it. To prevent suffocation or gastrointestinal obstructions in your feline, always keep an eye on your cat when meat strings are around.
9. Human food
We know it’s tempting to share some Christmas dinner with your cat, but there are various foods that are delicious to humans, but dangerous to cats. Alcohol and chocolate are some of the classics, but did you know that even garlic, onions, grapes, and raisins can make your cat severely ill? Sorry kitty, no Christmas pudding for you!
10. Festive outfits for cats
Your cat may look cute in their tiny clothes, but the poor animal often isn’t very fond of the festive attire. Stressed out cats panic easily, potentially getting themselves hurt, or worse. Instead of forcing a Santa suit onto your cat, try outfitting them with a festive collar. Most cats don’t mind wearing a collar, and your feline friend will still look the part.