Season's Heedings

Follow these tips to keep your cats happy and safe during the holidays.

By Peggy Scott | Posted: Tue Nov 2 00:00:00 PST 2004

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Sensor devices "can be very effective at keeping cats away from the food-preparation area," Hunthausen said. "The cat passes the sensor, and it makes a loud noise [or spray of air]. The cat learns to avoid the area." Use of a harmless device that repels the pet and trains it to stay away can prevent serious accidents, such as a cat jumping on a warm stove.

Wreck the Halls
Once the winter holidays roll around, other items accompany food on the potential hazard list. As we decorate our homes in the spirit of the season, our furry companions can find themselves compelled to explore and climb and taste all those exciting household additions.

The holiday tree, for example, can be viewed several ways. To us, it's a lovely decoration that provides a place to display treasured keepsake ornaments, and a gathering spot for gifts. To a pair of feline eyes, however, it can be a fresh-smelling, extra-challenging jungle gym.

"Cats like to play with the ornaments and can break them and even cut themselves," Houpt said. "They can climb the tree and knock it over, injuring themselves or someone else, and even start a fire."

And speaking of fire, "keep lit candles away from pets. They can burn themselves or you if they knock them over," Angeli said. While open flame may seem rather obvious, other troublemakers appear truly innocent.

"Thread, ribbon, even the string from the turkey, if swallowed, can hang up in the intestinal tract and cause big problems," Hunthausen said. "It can be hard to diagnose because it doesn't always show up on an X-ray. Sometimes it's not found until the bowel has perforated, and then you have a cat that's going to be hard to save."

The ASPCA offers ideas for safe holiday tree decorations dried, nontoxic flowers, wood, fabric or pinecones. Avoid tinsel that, if eaten, can lodge in the intestines and cause an obstruction.

Even the water that keeps the tree fresh can leave kitty awash in misery. It may contain dangerous fertilizers that can cause stomach upset, according to the ASPCA. Also, stagnant water can become a breeding ground for bacteria, another potential ticket to nausea and diarrhea for pets.

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