Insuring a Cat-Safe Holiday

Items to keep out of reach.


A Christmas tree to a cat may seem like a laser beam on steroids — lots of lights to chase, lots of other shiny objects. Which is why you should always anchor your tree. It can too easily tip and fall over onto a curious cat who views it as a fully outfitted play space, perhaps with fragile glass ornaments breaking into shards as they hit the floor and causing even more potential for your pet to harm herself as she scampers away.

Other holiday tips for keeping your feline safe and secure:

-Don’t bring tinsel into the house. Cats love string. And tinsel to a cat is interesting, shiny string. If they end up swallowing it, it can harm the intestine, even cutting it, making a cat very sick and requiring surgery to fix the problem.

Don’t keep any decorations on the tree’s lower boughs. That makes it too easy for a cat to bat something in play only to have it break into sharp-edged pieces and cut your pet’s mouth or paws.

Keep wires (more “string”) as well as batteries out of reach. A wire can deliver a potentially lethal electrical shock, and a punctured battery can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus, warns the ASPCA.

Make sure that both mistletoe and holly are not accessible. Both can cause gastrointestinal upset in the form of nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Mistletoe can even cause cardiovascular problems.

Don’t let your cat anywhere near lit candles. You don’t want her fur singed — or worse.

For your pet’s emotional security, remember that a lot of cats like predictability, and for them, the holidays are anything but predictable. People they don’t know come and go, furniture gets moved to make room for decorations, you’re in and out buying gifts and food. Try to keep your cat’s routine as same-old same-old as possible, with regular feeding times and as much interaction as she usually enjoys.

Also, make sure at holiday time more than at other times that your pet has a room or quiet corner to escape to where no one is allowed to bother her. Remember, to you it’s a holiday. To her it’s that time of year when the world goes topsy turvy.


  1. If you have to have candles – they are so pretty and seasonal – then try the battery powered ones. They look like the real thing, with wax exteriors, but are a whole lot safer. For humans and animals alike.

  2. Great tip! Also, shatter-proof ornaments for the tree have been available for a few years. I first saw them at Costco in 2009; the set I bought came with short ribbons to attach them instead of wire hooks. With two indoor cats, that seemed the best choice. Now I see these ornaments are more widely available, which is great for parents of small children, too.


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