Cats and Christmas trees are adorable right? Yes and no. Your average Christmas tree is chockablock with feline hazards. Did you know that artificial trees are safer for your cat? Pine needles can cause intestinal damage and the pine itself can cause liver damage, which can be fatal in cats.
Electric cords, glass ornaments, chemicals and tinsel are all serious cat health hazards that look tempting to your cat, not to mention the tree itself! In general, pine is considered mildly toxic. If you want a real pine tree, don’t leave your cat alone with it. If you are going to work, you can confine the cat in another room or place the tree in a room you can close off. It’s only a few weeks, after all, and it’s a precaution worth taking. Most cats are drawn to Christmas trees, and that’s a problem for you and them, according to The Animal Foundation. Preservatives and flame retardant chemicals used on live Christmas trees can also seep into the tree’s water (along with pine resin) and become a nasty, toxic cocktail, according to the Cat Proof Your Christmas Web page. Mistletoe and holly are poisonous and the sap in poinsettia plants can cause mouth blisters if your cart chews on the leaves.
Before you start singing the holiday blues, there are many ways to play it safe and still enjoy the glitz and glitter of the holidays. One video shows you how to make an attractive, alternative Christmas tree from decorated cardboard boxes for your cats to enjoy.
Lights are a serious hazard. Cats can get tangled up in them, and suffer serious or even fatal injuries due to electrical shock or strangulation. Large lights can be hot to the touch. “Unplug decorative lights when you are not there, use pet-proof extension cords, and spray cords with a product such as Bitter Apple or Chew Stop,” is the advice given at Peteducation.com.
You definitely don’t want your cat to topple your tree and injure itself. “Whether it is real or artificial if the tree topples with your cat climbing in it serious injuries could be the result,” according to an article on Cat Proof Your Christmas. “If possible ensure the tree is secured to a wall or ceiling to help prevent mishaps.”
Tinsel is a no no. It’s easily swallowed and causes intestinal blockages. Ideally, don’t use tinsel in house when there are cats, but if you must have it, keep it well out of reach and be sure to clean up if any strands fall off. “Angel hair, flocking, and artificial snow are mildly toxic,” according to Peteducation.com. “If consumed in larger amounts, however, they could cause blockage of the intestine.”
Glass ornaments are fragile and bright baubles tend to fascinate cats and kittens. Remember, there are many lovely, unbreakable plastic and metal ornaments available. Glass baubles look like toys to a curious cat. And broken shards can injure your cat’s mouth and eyes. They’re not worth the risk.