Most cats are sensitive souls, preferring a quiet and dignified life. Now while there are of course exceptions, any interruption to the smooth routine of their daily life is a potential source of anxiety and distress. Added to that, at Christmas we thoughtfully decorate the house with shiny playthings, and put out strange and exotic foods and drinks, and we have the potential for a Christmas Day trip to the out of hours vet!
In this blog, we’re going to share 4 Top Tips to avoid such a calamity…
1) Destress not Distress
Lots of visitors, changes in routine, strange things happening in the environment… the Christmas season is a minefield for cats. In many ways, it’s worse than Fireworks night, because all the nasty things are happening indoors! So, treat it the same way:
- Use Feliway diffusers to reduce anxiety
- Make sure they have a safe, quiet place to hide
- Don’t confront them with too many people at once
- If they’re really stressed, pop in to see our vets for more detailed advice
2) Avoid toxic treats
While we may love our Christmas treats – turkey dinner, Christmas pudding and cake, mince pies, chocolates, nuts and drinks – all of these are potentially dangerous to cats!
- Turkey bones, especially when cooked, easily splinter when eaten, and can rupture the poor cat’s stomach or intestines. In addition, gorging on a high-fat meal (if you give them too much turkey!) can trigger pancreatitis; and sage-and-onion stuffing may lead to anaemia. Absolutely fine to give them a taste – but no bone, no stuffing, and not too much!
- Raisins currants and all grape-type fruits can cause kidney damage, so make sure they don’t vanish down the throat of our furry friends!
- Chocolate is toxic to cats, just like dogs – although fortunately it’s uncommon for them to eat enough to be really ill.
- Salted nuts can cause salt poisoning, especially in smaller cats.
- Cats really don’t get on well with alcohol… it may start out as “drunkenness” but rapidly progresses to seizures, coma and sometimes even death from alcoholic poisoning.
3) Watch out for ornaments
Nice shiny things to play with… or break… and then razor sharp shards all over the floor, lacerating pads and bellies. While glass ornaments are the worst, even plastic ones can be dangerous. So keep them out of paws reach! The same goes for candles (cats love the flickering flame, but often reach out to touch, resulting in burned paws) and fairy lights (which can cause nasty electrical burns or even electrocution). There have even been reports of cats that set themselves on fire trying to jump over candles, so make sure they aren’t set up anywhere that the cat likes to sit!
Some festive plants are toxic too – poinsettia, mistletoe, holly, ivy and Christmas cherry can all cause a tummy upset, while lilies are fatally poisonous.
Finally, be really, really cautious with tinsel – cats love to play with it, but it can get caught up in their claws and teeth, trapping them. Also, for some reason many cats love to swallow the stuff – possibly because it gets trapped in the barbs on their tongues. However, once inside it acts as a “linear foreign body” and causes horrific “cheesewire” injuries to the intestines if not promptly removed by emergency surgery – never EVER try and pull it out.
4) Beware the Christmas Tree
Cats love to climb… but if the tree isn’t secured well enough, the result is either a collapsed tree, or a cat thrown violently across the room, or both. Best advice – feline-free fir-trees unless closely supervised!
If there is a problem, you can of course call use 24/7 throughout the Christmas period. Although we’re closed for routine appointments, we always have a vet and a nurse on call who will be able to see you at any hour of the day or night – or even to give you advice over the phone if you’re just worried.