Holidays are fun, but can also be stressful, even for cats. Cats like routine, which can easily be disrupted due to changes in schedule, visitors, and travel. Things to consider to keep your cat safe and happy this holiday season:
Routine - Maintain your cat’s normal schedule for meals, playtime and affection;
Decorations - Hanging ornaments can be tempting for cats to bat at. Glass can break, and some ornaments can be chewed and ingested. Ensure decorations are safe;
Christmas Trees - Cats can knock over trees, injuring themselves or others. If you do get a tree, make sure it's secured so it cannot fall over. Christmas tree water may have chemicals or aspirin in it - do not give cats access;
Tinsel and Ribbon - Can be ingested causing a gastrointestinal disaster, requiring surgery to remove. All strings are dangerous, and are not worth the risk;
Holiday Plants - Many plants associated with the holidays are poisonous to cats including mistletoe, pine tree needles, amaryllis, lilies, red azaleas and paperwhites. Again, not worth the risk;
Holiday Foods - Avoid giving your cat human food as holiday food is often rich and may contain harmful ingredients such as garlic, onions or avocados. If you want to give your cat a holiday treat, try freeze-dried chicken cat treats or other favorite cat treat;
Contact your veterinarian or hotline if you are concerned your cat ingested something dangerous: ASPCA - (888) 426-4435, Pet Poison Hotline - (855) 764-7661 (fees may apply);
Traveling - Ensure your cat is microchipped and in a secure carrier labeled with your contact information. For cats staying at home, the cat sitter should try to come at the same times of day your cat is normally fed, and provide physical and mental stimulation with playtime;
Candles - Avoid using as cats can knock them over;
Cats as Gifts - Adopting a cat is a serious commitment that should not be taken lightly. Cats live on average for 15 years, and up to 20 years. Caring for a pet is a big responsibility. People should make their own choices about if and when they are ready for that commitment.
Jennifer Van de Kieft is a Certified Feline Training and Behavior Specialist residing in Brooklyn, New York City.