For many of us, Christmas trees are part of the winter holiday season. But while we enjoy Christmas trees, they can be dangerous for our cats. As we prepare to decorate Christmas, Dr. Jamie Richardson, Chief Medical Officer at Small Door Veterinary, understanding how dangerous Christmas trees can be to cats.
Christmas tree water
The water at the base of your Christmas tree is not the same as the water in your cat’s water bowl.
“The water around a Christmas tree can stagnate and bacteria can grow very quickly, which can lead to serious stomach upsets for your cat,” says Dr. Richardson, adding, “If possible, avoid a tree that needs watering or water it in small amounts every day. “
However, if you want a real tree to make sure it stays adequately hydrated while protecting your cat, put a wire shelf over the tree stand so your cat doesn’t get into the water. While many stores sell additives that you can add to the water to save your tree’s life, these additives can be particularly dangerous for our cats.
“Do not use chemical Christmas tree extender products in the water as they can be toxic to cats,” warns Dr. Richardson.
It can be cute to see pictures or videos of cats and kittens climbing Christmas trees, but it is very dangerous.
“Cats are often tempted to climb Christmas trees because they love high perches. However, an untied tree could easily fall over and injure them. The same applies if the cat is tempted to use the tree as a scratching post, ”explains Dr. Richardson.
If your tree is in an area of your home that cats can access, it is important to securely anchor your Christmas tree to a wall so that the tree does not fall if your cat enters the tree.
In general, it is a good idea to supervise your cat whenever it is near the tree to prevent climbing. If your cat seems interested in the tree, try using toys and / or treats to distract their attention.
If you bring a live tree into the house, your cat is likely to get some attention. Since cats often explore the world by mouth, some cats may try to nibble on trees. However, Christmas trees are not safe for cats to eat. While your cat is unlikely to take up much trees, many cats are tempted to nibble on Christmas tree branches and pine needles. “While chewing on the bark doesn’t necessarily do much damage, pine needles can cause problems if swallowed,” advises Dr. Richardson.
Twinkling lights and other festive decorations are important parts of decorating Christmas trees, but they can pose serious health and safety risks to our cats. Christmas decorations that are shiny and wrinkled are especially attractive to cats, who can easily mistake the Christmas decorations for cat toys, warns Dr. Richardson
Some of the Christmas tree ornaments that you want to be extra careful with include:
- If swallowed, tinsel can get stuck in the intestines and clump together, causing a painful, life-threatening blockage and infection.
- A broken piece of gimmick can clog and / or puncture the GI tract, which can also be fatal if not quickly identified and treated.
- Tree lights can cause dangerous electric shock and / or burns if your cat chews on the cables.
It is best to avoid using tinsel on your tree as the risk of clogging is so high. When choosing other ornaments, choose those made of plastic or other shatterproof materials.
Distract the cat!
As you decorate your tree, think about how you can naturally keep your cat from examining the tree. Make sure your cat has access to enriching toys and furniture, such as scratching posts. Dr. Richardson recommends cat guardians spray cat poles / scratching posts and toys with a cat pheromone spray, as this can help encourage your cat to use it and ignore the tree.
“No matter how hard you try, some cats just won’t be stopped from climbing the Christmas tree, so you may need to rethink typical decorating plans,” warns Dr. Richardson. If you know that you have a cat who just won’t leave the tree alone, consider putting your Christmas tree in an area of your home that your cat can’t access, or switching to a different type of Christmas tree-like ceramic trees or other decorations that pose no risk to your cat.
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