- Prepare for separation issues: When your holiday schedule means less time at home or actually going away, cats may suffer from feline separation anxiety. One common symptom is for the cat to urinate on your bed, but other reactions can include destructive behavior or digestive problems. To ease the stress of your absence, desensitize the cat with sensory cues. For example, play a radio that is set to soothing music and leave it on while you are away. If you are taking a trip, start packing a few days in advance so the cat will view your suitcase as routine. If you use a pet-sitter, try to have him or her there when you leave, making the transition less disorienting.
- Decorate with your cat in mind: Cats are instinctively curious about bright, shiny things, which Christmas trees are often covered with, so hang any breakable ornaments out of kitty.’s reach. Some cats also see the Christmas tree as a climbing perch. To prevent having it toppled, fasten your tree to the wall or ceiling with wire.
One solution is to make a tree skirt with the adhesive pads that keep rugs from slipping. Since cats do not like sticky surfaces, that can discourage tree exploring. Citrus flavors (e.g., lemon peels) around the tree are also natural cat deterrents.
- Avoid toxins and dangerous ingestibles: Some traditional holiday symbols are harmful to cats. Holly and live mistletoe are poisonous and potentially lethal, and poinsettias can cause feline nausea. Try silk or plastic ones instead.
- If you have a live Christmas tree, do not add fertilizer to the water in the tree stand in case your cat drinks from it. Also avoid using tinsel because it can cause a blockage of the cats.’ intestines if swallowed. Thin ribbon or string poses similar threats.
- Many popular holiday treats can make cats sick, so be sure any chocolate, eggnog and rich snacks go only to your guests, not your pets.
- If your cat swallows something you suspect is dangerous, contact the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680, or online at www.petpoisonhelpline.com.
- Be ready for winter weather hazards: For outdoor cats, beware of seasonal risks such as ice-melting sidewalk salt. It is very irritating to pets.’ paws, and dangerous if ingested. Keep in mind that salt can be brought in on your shoes, so be mindful of sidewalk salt as it can also pose a threat to indoor cats.
- Automotive anti-freeze is sweet and attractive to cats, but highly toxic. Immediately clean up any that spills in your driveway or garage.
Here.’s wishing you and your pets a safe, happy, healthy holiday!