Cats and Christmas

Posted on: 25 November 2015 by Gareth Hargreaves

Christmas can be a busy and stressful time ... for your cat. Here are some tips for keeping Tiddles happy!

Cats at Christmas

Christmas isn’t such a fun time for our feline friends. Frenzied activity, visits from friends and family and a change in routine can all take its toll on our cats during the festive holiday period.

The following seasonal cat-care tips from Cats Protection Veterinary Officer, Rhona Apps, can help ensure a safe and stress-free time for cats and their owners alike during the Christmas period.

Dangerous decorations

Many of the decorations we buy can pose a danger to cats and should be kept away from playful paws. Glass baubles can fall and shatter causing injury whilst wispy strands of angel hair or metallic silver strands can become caught in a cat’s throat. Twinkly lights look pretty but keep the electrical wire away from felines. To a cat, this wire looks good enough to eat but can be potentially lethal.

If you have a “real” Christmas tree, make sure you vacuum up the needles regularly. Sharp needles can become stuck in delicate paws, causing a painful infection. If in any doubt, do not leave your cat alone in a room with a Christmas tree. Remember, too, that festive plants such as holly, poinsettia, ivy and mistletoe are all poisonous to felines, so think carefully when you “deck the halls” with these.

Party animals

The constant popping of party poppers and pulling of crackers can often be too much for puss. If you’re planning a full house over the Christmas period, it is therefore essential to make the necessary arrangements for your feline friend. This could simply mean making sure he has a quiet room away from all the noise or it could call for more drastic action such as a short stay in a cattery.

It’s really down to where you feel your cat will be most happy. If you have a fairly easy-going cat, a quiet room in the house will probably be sufficient. Make the room as comfortable as possible, ensuring he has all his familiar things around him – include his bed, food and water and litter tray.

A normal routine

Don’t spoil your cat with lots of treats and titbits during Christmas – this can cause an upset stomach for puss and undue worry for yourself. A small portion of turkey (with no bones) is quite sufficient for his or her Christmas dinner.

Although cats love to be part of family life, they don’t want to be involved in all the festivities. Make sure that it is just you wearing a party hat and not your cat too. Never dress your pet in anything – it can be stressful and demeaning.

Perfect presents

Make sure that any toys you buy are cat safe. Choose ones with embroidered features, rather than plastic or glass ones, which can disintegrate and cause harm. If you’re buying him or her something edible, stick to the special pet treats. Never feed him normal chocolate, as this is toxic to cats. Don’t forget to hide the present somewhere safe where he can’t sniff it out!

Cats love playing with wrapping paper and will probably enjoy this more than the gift inside! If you do allow your cat to play, remember to take off any ribbon and sticky tape, to avoid them getting wrapped around puss’s neck.

Of course, finding the right present for the friend or relative ‘who has everything’ is not such an easy task! However, please don’t be tempted to surprise him or her with a cute fluffy bundle of fur. Every year, Cats Protection rehomes around 60,000 cats and kittens, many of whom are unwanted Christmas presents. Cats may be independent creatures but they are still a big responsibility. The decision to take on a pet must be discussed and agreed with everyone in the household.

Winter watch

With shorter days, poor daylight and a change in traffic patterns, roads can be extremely dangerous around Christmas time. Take extra care when letting your cat outside. If you’re worried, keep him in from teatime onwards, remembering to provide him with a litter tray.

Cat owners also need to be aware of the potential hazards of anti-freeze. If a feline walks through an anti-freeze spill and then licks his paws, the toxic nature of the liquid can have a serious poisoning effect on puss, who could need subsequent veterinary treatment.

Any sensible cat will probably stay indoors more during the winter months, so ensure your cat has somewhere warm and snug in the house where he can curl up comfortably. Make sure you keep a litter tray indoors, too. Cats are often lured to the heat of an open fire but make sure you have a guard over it at all times, as cats need to be protected from a spitting fire.

If you have an elderly cat, try not to keep him outside for too long during the winter. Older cats tend not to have as much fat as their younger counterparts, so they can really feel the cold. Watch out, too, for frozen ponds and water butts. A curious cat may gingerly try to walk across the thin ice, forgetting that it could give way at any moment, plunging him into the icy depths.

Whatever you do during the festive season, don’t forget puss. Give him lots of love and attention and you’re both sure to have a very happy Christmas.

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