• Dr Caity Venniker

Festive season safety tips for cats

At KatKin, festive season fervour has arrived. We're big fans of being jolly all year round, but especially now. We're all about taking time to eat delicious food and spend time with friends and family – what's not to love? Turns out, for our cats, a few things.


Just in time, we've made a list of tips to keep your cat as safe and as happy as the rest of the family over the festive season.


The main dangers for cats in the holidays are toxins and stress. Every cat is unique and taking its personality into account will help you to manage the risks. Curious and greedy cats are more prone to eating things that they shouldn't. Shy cats find it harder to cope with a busy household and change in routine.


What kind of personality does your cat have? Are they laid back or anxious, playful or lazy?


We're here to help you identify potential threats so you can avoid any problems.


Holiday hazards for cats:


1. Toxins in food


Chocolate: Always one to watch out for but especially at this time of year when lots of festive varieties are available. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. Be extra careful of the chocolate balls used for decorating the table or the Christmas tree – very tempting for little paws!


Grapes and raisins: Mince pies, contrary to what the name may suggest, are definitely off the menu for cats. The same goes for Christmas pudding. That's because grapes and raisins cause kidney damage in cats, and they can be more appealing when covered in pastry (as are most things!)

Onions, garlic and leeks: Usually, cats will avoid these toxic vegetables, but when they are hidden in stuffing or covered in gravy, it's a different story. Take care with your leftovers!

Fatty, rich foods: Table scraps in the festive season tend to be especially fatty and rich, which can cause tummy upsets in cats. Rather stick to our KatKin Christmas Lunch pouches if you'd like your cat to celebrate with you!

2. Toxins in plants and decorations


Christmas trees can also be dangerous, usually only for very playful or curious cats. The fir tree oils if ingested can cause vomiting, and sharp needles can irritate the stomach.


Poinsettias are mildly toxic to cats and can cause drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea.


Holly and mistletoe are toxic to cats. They generally cause severe tummy upsets, but larger quantities can cause breathing problems and even seizures. Even dried leaves and berries should be kept out of reach. We give our cats plenty of kisses with no mistletoe required, so why even bother with it?


Lilies are popular gifts, but not for households with cats. They are highly toxic to cats and should not be allowed into the house. In fact, lilies are one of the most life-threatening household dangers to cats, and even the pollen or water from the vase can cause kidney failure. That's one secret Santa gift that should always be passed along to someone without cats!


Potpourri, especially in liquid form, is toxic to cats. Even smelling the dry form can irritate their sensitive noses, but ingesting it can burn the mouth and also cause vomiting, fever, tremors and organ damage. (check out our guide to cat safe indoor plants for more tips.)


Festive decorations are usually a hit with cats. My cat, Gorbachev, will always choose his Christmas bauble over any other toy - it's his lifetime favourite. Consider your cat when you choose your décor. Glass baubles are probably not a sensible choice. If you have a very playful cat, it may be better to give tinsel and candles a miss.



3. Stress

Preventing toxin exposure to your cat is fairly simple once you know what to look out for. Recognising what stresses your cat can be a little harder. A break in routine; loud noises; children (especially if your cat is not used to them) and unknown visitors can all trigger stress. You need to be particularly careful if you have a very sensitive cat or one that is prone to stress-related bladder problems.

Cats often make themselves scarce when they are stressed, so it can be easy to miss. Signs include:

  • Hiding away more than usual

  • Going off their food

  • Withdrawing or being less affectionate

  • Reluctance to use the litter tray as usual

  • Struggling to urinate in males (this is an emergency as there may be a blockage in the urinary tract)

Prevention is better than cure, so it's a good idea to prepare beforehand if you are planning to have an influx of in-laws (boo) or a big party (yay).

Firstly, pheromones are your friend. A pheromone diffuser in the house or a pheromone collar on your cat can really help to keep them calm. Check out our blog about pheromones here.


It's also a good idea to keep one area of the house off-limits to guests so that your cat can rest there peacefully, with everything they may need (cat food, water, litter tray, toys, cosy bed). If there’s going to be a lot of noise you could leave a TV or the radio playing softly in the cat-friendly area so that the noise level is more consistent. Lastly, try and stick to a routine as much as possible, especially when it comes to feeding times.


Those are our top tips for keeping your cat merry this Christmas, but if you'd like to chat more about it, feel free to contact our vets on meow@katkin.com. And don't forget to get some festive pics of your cat and share them with us, either on Instagram using #KatKinClub or by joining the KatKin Club House on Facebook. We'll be squealing over each other's cats all Christmas long, and we can't wait to see yours!

 

References:


Pet Poison Helpline. (2021). 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center. Retrieved November 20, 2021, from: https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/

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