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During the holidays, cats are are exposed to more hazards than usual; food, decorations and presents quickly become dangerous. To help you avoid a last-minute trip to the vets, All About Cats have issued a warning to highlight the holiday time conventions which can prove fatal to our feline friends.
With so much food around at Christmas time it can be difficult for animals to resist. However, a tasty treat for us can be deadly for some pets.
Christmas dinner favourites such as bacon, onions, garlic, stuffing and gravy must not be served to cats. So avoid sneaking them leftovers under the table and make sure they can’t get into the bins to steal scraps.
The founder of All About Cats, Dorron Wolffberg, said: “With all the extra cooking happening, you may be tempted to treat your cat to some delicious scraps. It is unknown to many cat parents just how toxic human Christmas foods are for cats.
“Be careful not to leave any food and alcohol lying about that may seem irresistible to your cat – stock up on pet treats before a big house party.“
There are some festive foods suitable for your cat, but only in moderation – boneless and skinless turkey, unseasoned potatoes, carrots and peas, prawns or shrimp with the shells removed and cooked and peeled chestnuts – are ok to share with your furry friend.
“If you have to treat your cat to human food, make sure it is unseasoned and free of animal fat and sugar. If your cat has eaten something that is making them sick, contact your local vet right away and take the packaging of the item in question if you have it so the vet is properly aware of the situation,” says Wolffberg.
Danger also comes in the form of decorations. Our cats may enjoy playing with ribbons, gift bags and tape, but they can all be harmful if consumed. Be especially careful not to leave your cat alone in a space with decorations as to avoid damage to both your Christmas set-up and your cat.
We all know that the Christmas tree is our cats’ favourite. Before clambering to the top to reach the star, they knock the baubles, get tangled in tinsel and chew on the branches. The tree can quickly become the most dangerous festive item in your home for an unsupervised cat.
For owners who are concerned about putting up their Christmas tree for fear of it being destroyed, there are effective ways to “cat-proof” your tree.
Make sure your Christmas tree is equipped with a sturdy base or secure it with weights at the bottom to prevent it from toppling over, should your cat attempt to climb it.
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Avoid hanging baubles and tinsel close to the bottom of the tree as they could be knocked off with the tap of a paw. Remember to tightly secure delicate ornaments and hangings with sentimental value towards the top of the tree to prevent harm to both your cat and the decorations.
Doron said: “Your Christmas tree can be extremely enticing to your cat, who is probably plotting strategies to climb it, if they haven’t already. My top tip for cat parents this Christmas is to never leave your cat unsupervised around your tree.”
Electric wires should be taped firmly to the wall or covered with plastic or cardboard tubes to prevent the risk of chewing and consequent electrocution and the lights on the tree should be switched off when nobody is home. A safer alternative is battery operated lights.
If you have a real tree, be careful of your cat nibbling away at it because the oils produced by Christmas trees can be toxic for cats. With fake trees, the leaves can irritate cat paws, mouths and intestinal tracts.
“Cats are innately inquisitive and therefore, it is only natural that they want to dive paws first into exploring all the new festive changes around your home. But cat parents shouldn’t forget that Christmas can be a stressful period for a cat. All the new changes around the house can interfere with the natural scent markers your cat leaves around the house as a mark of their territory. Disruptions in routines, new faces and all the shiny cat health hazards waiting to be played with, too, can be a source of stress,” says Wolffberg.
“An underrated but effective way to reassure your cat this festive season, make sure you create lots of little hiding nooks with their favourite toys and snacks for them to retreat into when they get overwhelmed. Don’t suddenly change the position of their litter box to avoid distressing them further and don’t force them into cute Christmas outfits if they are not open to wearing them.
“Most importantly, spend time playing with them as much as you can so they continue to feel loved (and well exercised) – this is the best gift you can offer them at Christmas.”
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