Vets? Cat Halloween Safety Suggestions

What?s black and orange and safe all over? Your cat?s Halloween, with some advice from vets.

By Anastasia Thrift | Posted: October 31, 2011, 3 a.m. EDT

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Happy Halloween! Vets recommend these following tips for a safe and happy holiday. This way, no spooky outcomes will affect your cats.

“While many cats do not seem to have as much of a sweet tooth as dogs, chocolate toxicity is a possibility,” says Lorraine A. Corriveau, DVM, of Purdue University Veterinary Teaching Hospital. “Theobromine that is in chocolate can cause mild toxicity at only 9 mg per pound.  The darker the chocolate the higher the level of theobromine (baking cocoa is more than dark chocolate, which is more than milk chocolate).”  

What’s in the candy wrapper can sometimes be less appealing than the wrapper itself. “Cats do like items that crinkle,” Corriveau says. “So those candy wrappers can cause problems if ingested. I even had one cat once that had a clear plastic wrapper stuck on the roof of his mouth toward the back of his throat that was making him gag and lick excessively that I had to help him remove. So keep candy put up and away behind doors so that it cannot be accidently found.  Also keep lids on trash cans in the house or keep the trash behind a door.”

“Avoid or reduce stressful Halloween situations,” says Patrick Mahaney, VMD CVA. “Halloween has many stressors that can adversely affect your cat’s behavior.”

Mahaney says visitors repeatedly ring the doorbell, open and close doors, exclaim “Trick or Treat!” loudly and sometimes enter your “shared home turf.” “The excess stimulation may lead to feline behavior changes, including vocalizing, aggression, pacing, cowering, destroying a confining space or inappropriate urination or defecation.”

“If your cat is prone to such behaviors, minimize any stressful triggers,” Mahaney continues. He suggests an overnight stay in a non-Halloween celebrating household. “If your cat remains in your home, engage in energy draining activity a few hours before the perceived stressful event.”

“Keep Halloween decorations out of your cat's reach,” Mahaney says. “Electric cords from decorative lights double as an unsafe play toy, especially for cats.”

Try battery-powered lights. They also come in handy when lighting the Jack o’ Lantern.

“Flickering candle flames always seem to attract cats and can lead to burns, singed whiskers or even fallen over leading to house fires,” Corriveau says. “Try to never leave a burning candle unattended when pets are present.”

She says the most dangerous of decorations for cats could be the “spider webs.” If ingested, Corriveau says, those strings can cause GI obstruction. And speaking of eating, Mahaney says to keep pumpkins out of cats’ reach.

“Although I advocate feeding cats cooked pumpkin — a moist, nutrient dense fiber source — a Jack o’ Lantern quickly rots and can serve as a mold and bacteria rich curiosity for your cat,” Mahaney says. “Dispose of your pumpkin at the first sign of decay (color change, bad smell, etc).”

“Keeping cats indoors will help prevent any mischievous pranks to befall them,” Corriveau says.  “Consider a baby gate in front of the door so that when opened there is no opening at the bottom for a kitty to scoot outside accidently when the door is opened for trick-or-treaters.”  

She says to try keeping the cat in his own room during the evening festivities along with some of his favorite toys, some catnip and a radio or TV for distraction.  “Also if they are especially nervous, you can try the product called feliway which comes as a spray or plug in diffuser to help release a pheromone known to relax kitties.”  
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Reader Comments

Shirley    Tucson, AZ

11/11/2011 8:30:05 AM


Shirley    Tucson, AZ

11/9/2011 3:00:07 AM

Good tips.

Samantha    Mission, BC

11/1/2011 3:24:39 PM

No trouble for my kitten's first halloween.

Pat    Omaha, NE

11/1/2011 8:46:21 AM

My kitty sniffs candy, but never touches it.

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