Do’s and Don’ts for a Feline-Friendly Holiday Season | Dr. Elsey's
cat in christmas sweater staring up excitedly at holiday decorations

Do’s and Don’ts for a Feline-Friendly Holiday Season

Celebrating the holidays wouldn’t be the same without our furry family members to snuggle up with by the fire. That’s why we’re here to help keep your household feeling jolly by sharing the do’s and don’ts of handling the holiday season while avoiding health hazards with your cat. Between a tree inside the house and an array of shiny baubles and ribbon, your cat might be feeling a little too tempted to cause trouble. We’re sharing our advice on how to best keep your tinsel trimmed for a mindful holiday environment both you and your cat can enjoy.

Avoid the Mistletoe & Holly

While festive greenery like poinsettia, mistletoe and holly make for classic Christmas decor, they need to be kept away from your cat’s reach. These types of plants can cause vomiting and diarrhea when ingested, and can be a tempting item to chew for the curious feline. If your cat does come in contact with them, it is a good idea to have your veterinarian check your cat right away. Avoid any unwanted trips to your veterinarian by opting for non-toxic plants or silk flowers instead.

Oh, Climbing Tree

Christmas trees can be a source of frustration when you own a cat. Whether your cat climbs into the tree or knocks it (and your ornaments) down, it isn’t something to celebrate. If you fear climbing will become an issue, anchoring the tree to the wall and natural citrus sources like orange peels or a spritz of citronella can help keep curious cats at bay. If you decide to opt for a real tree, don’t allow your cat to drink the water under the tree. There are often added fertilizers, pesticides or chemicals that may be poisonous. It is a good idea to always keep the water covered with a heavy tree skirt.

Decorating Do’s and Don’ts

Between a plethora of strings, ribbon and shiny baubles, holiday decor can be hard to resist in the eyes of your cat. When it comes to trimming the tree, avoid using tinsel and ribbon that cause intestinal issues, warranting a veterinarian trip if eaten. Place fragile ornaments higher up on the tree and out of your cat’s reach to avoid any broken glass cutting your cat’s tender paw pads. Consider decorating with thick cloth ribbons instead, and waiting to place gifts around the tree until they are ready to be opened to avoid any destruction from Santa Claws.

Careful of Candles & Cords

An influx of candles, cords and string lights can pose a dangerous risk during the holiday season. In the eyes of your cat, string lights and extension cords could be misinterpreted as a brand new toy. Make sure to hang lights and secure loose cords that could dangle within a paw’s reach. If your family celebrates Hanukkah, never leave the menorah candles unattended. If your cat comes too close to an open flame, they risk singed whiskers or, worse, starting a house fire. Always place a shield over your fireplace to prevent your cat from warming their paws a bit too close, as metal parts of the hearth could burn them.

Keep an Eye on Your Plate

Holiday feasts and baked treats are the ultimate prizes to a hungry feline. In the blink of an eye, a slice of turkey may disappear off the kitchen counter if left within a paw’s reach. You’ll likely fill your holiday table and home with assorted sweets, roasts and edible decorations like candy canes and popcorn garlands—all of which could cause quite the stomach ache if eaten by your cat. While sneaking a scrap or two to your cat might seem harmless, remember not to overindulge your cat with foods that could leave them feeling sick.

Create a Safe Space

A comforting and secluded space can provide your cat with a place to escape if feeling overwhelmed by their holiday environment. Creating a private room for your cat with all the provisions needed, such as their food and water bowls, toys and a litter box, can provide a hideaway if easily stressed. Alternatively, if your cat prefers to be a part of the merriment while staying secluded, consider creating a hiding spot. A cat bed tucked behind the sofa, a climbing tree or a cardboard box can create a sense of safety while still allowing your cat to view the festivities.

There’s no better addition to celebrating the holidays at home than a cat snuggled up by your side. With a little extra attention to detail, you can prevent holiday hazards from disrupting your peace this holiday season.