Holiday Safety

Holiday Safety

By Rita Reimers, Cat Behaviorist

Lights, glitter, music, laughter… the winter holiday season is here, and we sure could use some cheer right now. No matter which of the holidays you celebrate, this time of the year is full of fun, excitement, and good cheer for everyone.

Everyone, that is, except for maybe your cat!

While the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year for us, cats are not big fans of change. The holiday hoopla and celebrating could end up with your kitty feeling anxious and upset. Holiday open-house parties can be especially stressful and may also offer escape opportunities for your cat. With all the new sights, sounds, smells, and strange people in your home, your cat may see that open door and seize the opportunity to get away from it all.

To prevent stress and foil kitty escape plans, it’s a good idea to create a safe space for your cat away from all the noise, people, and that open door!

Here are some tips for creating a safe space for kitty to paw-ty by himself during the party hoopla.

  • Ideally, the indoor cat safe space would be a separate room with a closed door, so your cat cannot see or hear all the party happenings.
  • It’s a good idea to keep of your guests from entering the cat’s safe space. An open door is also a potential escape opportunity, so label it “Do Not Enter”
  • Another wonderful place for isolating your cat would be in a cat enclosure, or Catio, if you have one available.
  • Make it an inviting cat space by providing special toys, yummy treats, and of course his favorite food. Also include a litter box and a bowl of clean water.
  • Cats love to hide, it’s part of their survival instinct. Provide your cat with a covered cat bed, so he can snuggle up inside and feel protected and hidden from the party.
  • If your get gets extremely anxious, it might be a good idea to hire a a cat sitter or have someone your cat knows well stay with him in the safe space during your party.

Aside from the party noise, there are other potential dangers to consider while you are getting ready for the holidays. Here are a few other things to keep in mind.

  • Holiday decorations with glue and glitter may attract your cat to grab them, and these items can cause harm if he decides they look delicious. Hang those decorations high on your tree or mantle or avoid them altogether.
  • If you put up a Christmas tree, your cat may decide it’s too tempting, and he  may try to climb it. Use a motion activated air spray can to make the tree less appealing to your cat. Whenever he gets close to the can’s motion detector, a harmless spray will startle him, and he will stay away.
  • Also, watch out for those low hanging Christmas ornaments; noses and tails can knock them over and your cat may get hurt on any broken pieces.
  • Wrapping holiday packages with ribbons and string may be irresistible to kitty if he decides to chew them. These items can get twisted inside your cat’s intestines if swallowed, and that could prove harmful or even fatal (and expensive).
  • Poinsettia plants are among the most toxic of plants for cats and can be fatal if eaten. Skip them if you have a cat, or you may end up with a very sick kitty and a large vet bill.
  • Be careful using candles, since noses and tails could get burned if your cat decides to get too close.
  • As tempting as all the holiday foods may be, it’s best to resist the urge to give your cat holiday table scrapes. Seasonings and spices can make him sick, and some items like onions and grapes can be toxic to your cat. Give him some plain tuna or broiled chicken or turkey as a treat instead.

So much for the Dont’s. How about some kitty Do’s…

  • DO make time for your cat during the holiday season with some playtime and lots of love and attention. In the hecticness of the season, it’s easy for your cat to be neglected during all of the celebrating.
  • DO remember to give your kitty a gift. A special toy or treat will make your kitty feel like she is part of the celebration while she’s helping you open all your presents.

The love your cat gives you all year long is worth doing the simple steps above to ensure your cat remains a healthy and happy part of the family.

Happy Holidays!

For information or help with your cat’s behavior, visit The Cat Behavior Alliance

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