Holiday Safety for Cats

The holidays are always fun and exciting for the whole family, but if your family has pets, it is important to take a little time off from the holiday fun to think about holiday safety. Since the environment a cat lives in changes so dramatically during the holiday season, there are threats to your cat's health during this time that are not present during other times of the year.

Holiday Plants

There are many plants around the house during the holiday season that cats would usually not come into contact with, and some of these plants can cause health hazards. If a cat eats mistletoe, it can cause a sharp decrease in heart rate and blood pressure, which is not healthy. If ivy is ingested in small quantities by a housecat, it can cause diarrhea, while larger quantities of the same plant can cause convulsions and death.

If a cat tries to eat needles that fall from a Christmas tree, they could get lodged in the esophagus, which could make swallowing extremely difficult and painful. Tinsel and ribbon are commonly eaten by cats, and they can cause stomach problems or choking. If water is left in the Christmas tree stand, microbes can develop in it that, if ingested by a cat, can lead to diarrhea, vomiting or mouth sores.


Never allow your cat to eat food made for humans. For some reason, many people feel that the holiday season is an appropriate time to treat their pets to the same food they themselves eat. Even though the cat will willingly eat the food, it is still not made for feline consumption and can be unhealthy for cats. Many foods commonly eaten by humans are greasy or rich enough to give cats an upset stomach or, in extreme cases, pancreatitis.

Chocolate, coffee, and tea contain chemicals called xanthenes, which can cause damage to the nervous system, urinary system, or cardiovascular system in cats. If any of these are ingested, the cat could experience diarrhea, seizures, and possibly even death. Leaving uncooked meat around can allow dangerous bacteria such as E. coli and parasites such as Toxoplasma gondii, and these can cause serious health problems if eaten by a cat. Cats are likely to eat the string that comes with ham or turkey, as it has been soaked in the meat juices and smell like meat.

Household Chemicals

During cold weather, antifreeze is commonly used, and this can be fatal to animals if they drink it. Since people often have visitors during the holiday season, and many people like to thoroughly clean their house before visitors arrive, it follows that cleaning products are more likely to be left out during the holidays. Remember to keep your pets away from these as much as possible, as they can also be fatal if ingested.

It is important to enjoy the holiday season as much as you can, but it is also very important to remember holiday safety for your cat. There are many hazards around your house during holiday celebrations that could cause problems for your cat if not handled appropriately.