Poinsettias can make your cat ill. (Black Press files)

Poinsettias can make your cat ill. (Black Press files)

Pets: Good grief, cats and Christmas

‘No one needs a sick pet over the holidays.’

Like many holidays enjoyed by humans, Christmas can be upsetting and dangerous for your feline companions.

There are numerous, obvious, as well as hidden dangers around every merry corner, and plenty of examples of a cat’s uncontrollable desire to destroy all that is Christmas. Add to that vast amounts of food, and too many loud visitors and your cat may go over the edge sooner than you think.

If you have kittens and this is their first Christmas, good grief, no one can help you with that.

READ ALSO: Pets: Singing the black cat blues.

Cat owners know that cats love to nibble on household plants when no one is looking. Many plants and flowers are poisonous, but Poinsettias are one of the most notorious.

While their toxicity is low, they can make your cat very ill. Keep your home poinsettia-free, or choose to display the plastic variety.

No one needs a sick pet over the holidays.

The relationship between cats and Christmas trees is very much a love-hate one. It starts with your cats swatting off the lowest hung ornaments, progresses to them climbing the tree, and ends with it toppling over.

Try to fasten the tree to a wall, or even a heavy piece of furniture, to prevent the tree from falling.

There are products available to spray, or place, around a tree to discourage your cat from climbing it, but we all know if there’s a will there’s a way.

Don’t fight nature. If it glows and twinkles, they will come and smash it, they can’t help themselves.

Any ornaments that are delicate or easily breakable should remain safely in a box hidden in the closet.

Many ornaments can shatter into countless tiny pieces and become embedded in their paws, or yours. Wood, cloth, or plastic ornaments are the safest.

One of the most dangerous Christmas decorations is tinsel. Cats are mesmerized by it and for some odd reason like to eat it.

Once ingested, it can obstruct the digestive tract and cause severe damage, or even death.

If you have cats, tinsel should join the poinsettia outside your home.

We like to believe that if we hang something high up, our cats won’t be able to get it, but anyone who shares their life with a cat knows the reality.

Food is a huge part of the holidays, and while cats are not as gluttonous as their canine counterparts, they still get into foods that make them sick.

Chocolate, a staple of all holiday gatherings, is toxic to cats.

There are many foods, such as dairy products, that aren’t’ necessarily poisonous, but can still have adverse affects.

Then there is the quantity of food a cat consumes. Like I said before, cats don’t tend to be voracious eaters, but even small amounts of human food is not healthy for them.

So be mindful about putting leftovers away, placing food in areas that are not easily accessible to the cat, and discouraging your guests from slipping Fluffy a bite of turkey.

The holidays are a busy, social season and many cats don’t deal well with all the noise and activity. Felines love their space, and their routine, so any change can be stressful. Stressed out cats can start to overgroom, become aggressive, and pee outside the litter box.

During the holidays, especially if you have a highly sensitive feline, you should give them a safe zone in your home, away from all the action.

If you are hosting this season, set your cat up in a spare room with everything they might need like food, water, the litter box, and whatever they usually sleep on.

Sharing holidays with our cats can be an awesome experience, but in order to avoid unpleasant situations or huge vet bills, we need to be a bit more watchful and considerate of them.

Magdalena Romanow is a volunteer with Katie’s Place, an emergency animal shelter in Maple Ridge.