Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holiday Hazards To Watch For: Protect Your Cats! A Guest Blog By Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Hospital

FROM  CAT CHAT: A number of us around the Pet Blog-o-sphere were contacted by Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Hospital, asking if we would please post the top holiday  hazards that could cause harm to  our pets. You will see various versions making their way around the internet.  Because  I was seeing this post turn up in a few places I hesitated posting it. Then I did some important thinking. I view the safety of our pets as being a vital concern all year, not just at the holidays, but the holidays bring with them a totally different set of challenges that cannot be repeated ENOUGH!  I decided to post this after all:

Poinsettias fill homes with color during the holiday and we all hear how they’re life-threatening to cats. In fact, they’re not very toxic. While they do contain a milky sap that can irritate the mouth, symptoms from contact are usually mild. There are far more dangerous pet hazards during the holidays and the emergency veterinarians at VRCC Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Hospital ( share with us one case and then the top things for you to watch for.
Hank the cat with needle in stomach

Take the case of a cat named Hank. He came into VRCC after swallowing a thread that was still attached to a needle. You can see it in these x-rays. Cats love to chew and play with string, ribbon and other objects that are used to make homemade holiday garlands and crafts.  Particularly appealing to cats in the shiny tinsel on the Christmas tree. If your cat is attracted to these objects, leave them in a drawer and decorate a simple tree foregoing the tinsel all together and placing the ornaments on higher branches to avoid the temptation to play.

 For Hank, it was a happy ending, courtesy of the internal medicine veterinary specialists at VRCC. They were able to remove the needle and string using an endoscope.

 Another tip? If you believe your cat has swallowed one of these objects, don’t try to pull it back out their throat yourself. Take them to your family veterinarian for an exam.
Other holiday hazards for cats include:
  • Spray on snow/flocking, foil, plastic wrap/shrink-wrap, Styrofoam peanuts.
  • XMAS Tree Food/Preservatives: Got a real tree this year? Watch out. Veterinarians at VRCC say sugar-based tree preservatives and tree food/water can harbor dangerous bacteria and a thirsty cat may decide to use the tree stand as a drinking bowl.
  • Batteries: It may be great to have batteries for that new, cool toy, but chewing or swallowing batteries is extremely toxic. Acid burns are common from puncturing the battery through chewing causing the acid to leak out as well as cuts from the metal casing.
  • Potpourri: The spicy smell can fill the house with a wonderful scent, but a cat can experience irritation and corrosion of the eyes, mouth, throat and esophagus if exposed to the liquid form.
(VRCC pet tips provided by Megan Rector, MS, DVM)

FROM CAT CHAT:  being Jewish I thought of another item that should be added to the holiday hazard list.

THE MENORAH: The Menorah  holds lit candles that from my experience never fit properly and teeter precariously in their holders. If you are using a Menorah keep it out of the reach of  your curious kitty, or better yet, if you own a cat you may want to consider using an electric Menorah. He could accidentally knock the Menorah over causing a fire or being attracted to the flickering lights he could singe his fur which could have dire consequences.

 Keep a close eye on your kitties during this festive season and you’re sure to have a safe holiday season for all your furry friends


  1. Good advice, it'a amazing what pets get into (their stomachs)

  2. Thanks for posting this. I hasn't read it on any other blog. My peeps are very careful. No tinsel on the tree and they use tissue paper rather than that glittery fake snow paper. They don't use tree preservatives/food—just water, which Nicky used to love drinking but I don't drink anything. TW likes potpourri but leaves it in the closed container it comes in. Also, the only acorns they use for decorations come from real trees and have no fake scents.

  3. It's always advisable to be aware of extra dangers during the holidays! Thanks for the reminders, Caren! Here's to a safe time for everyone!! Yay! take care

  4. @Nick so true!

    @Old Kitty you are welcome!! Yes let's hope that everyone and every kitty is safe! xoxoxo

    @Cathy Keisha I love your suggestions as well! You know I didn't know about potpourri until I read this article. Thank you for mentioning acorns as well!

  5. It's always good to learn new things that could endanger your cat
    - Mum didn't know about potpourri and says the best thing would be to put us in a box and bring us out again in the New Year MOL!!
    Luv Hannah and Lucy xx xx

  6. What an important post Caren! We saw a dog yesterday at the vet that had eaten a glass ornament off the tree already!! Lucky for him, he will be ok! There are so many dangers around for pets this time of the year!

  7. @Hannah and Lucy I am so sorry but that "box" comment just cracked me up! I can't stop laughing! Not only is it FUNNY it is soooo true!

    @Jen OMG!!! That is AWFUL!!!!! I can't believe it! Thank goodness that poor dog will be ok!! That sounds like something that Dakota would try and do! xoxoxo

    @Benny & Lily thank you!!!! yes it is! I want all of you to be safe & sound!

  8. Thank you for posting this warning Caron...we all need to be mindful for our pets.

  9. Thanks, Caren - I don't think any of this info can be posted enough! Especially the Menorah addendum - few humans think to mention that.

  10. @Sparkle THANK YOU!!! I have to say the darned Menorah makes me nervous every year! :)

  11. A must read post for all pet owners, Very good points W.r.t safety of our pets.

  12. I worry about pine needle consumption at our house, they don't seem to intentionally eat pine needles but they love to chew on tree branches and I'm sure they ingest some. Every year I agonize whether to get a tree or not...still up in the air for this year since Kip is still a kitten.

  13. @wockley you are welcome and I couldn't agree more!

    @Cat I have to agree with you. The pine needles would make me extremely nervous. With Kip being so young I don't know what I would do myself. I would be worried about a kitten and the tree water and all as well. At least with dogs you can buy a smaller tree and put it on a table or something, with a cat you can't because they can reach everything! Good luck with whatever you decide!!!!

    @Pet Lover thank you!!

  14. Thanks for sharing these tips! It's a great reminder.

  15. @Natalie you are most welcome!! Thanks for reading!

  16. Dear Caren,
    Pet safety is very important. At our house, pets has always come first. Even though Mommy and Daddy likes real trees, we has a artifical one. Tinsil - nope - not since Hissy Old Licorice was a baby and he ate it. Candles, not in our house, not on the dining table or anywhere else, something to do with a dog a zillion years ago, before Mommy and Daddy even met, no glass ornament, no real pointsettias, wes could goes on and on. Mommy and Daddy says theys don't really miss those things.
    All it takes is a little originality!
    Thanks for the very impawtant post.