Holiday Hazards for Our Cats
During theholiday season, quite a few of us are getting decorations in place, wrappingpresents, and making our homes warm and inviting for ourselves and ourguests. Remember that some of thoseactivities and additions to our homes can pose tempting dangers for our cats.
Christmas trees covered in tinsel and lights and shiny ornaments, and presentswrapped with curling string sometimes prove too much to resist for ourcats. Anything string-like can be eatenby our felines and may become lodged in their digestive tract (called a linearforeign body). One end becomes stuck andthe digestive tract continues to try to move the rest of the string throughwith contractions. In some cases, the string will cut through the intestines, alife-threatening situation resulting in infection in the abdomen with a poor prognosisfor recovery. The only way to removeforeign bodies is surgical removal.
Electrical shockand burns can also occur if your cat tries to chew on the string of lightsaround the tree or anywhere else in the home.
Be aware of thewater in the Christmas tree stand if you are adding chemicals to the water tokeep the tree fresh you need to make sure that they are not toxic to yourkitties. Other liquids common during theholidays (potpourri) should not be ingested by our pets.
Some of theplants we place around our home can cause problems as well. Poinsettia, contrary to popular belief, isnot very toxic. However, it does containa sap that can be irritating to the mouth and ingestion can cause mildgastrointestinal upset rarely including vomiting. There are many species of holly used as well,and the leaves and berries can cause gastrointestinal upset and depression, butit is generally mild.
Americanmistletoe, however, is very toxic and ingestion of this plant should prompt animmediate call to your veterinarian. Signs of mistletoe ingestion can include vomiting, depression, anddeath.
In my home, notinsel is used and ribbon is also a no-no since Mr. Bones favorite past timeis chewing on string if he can find it. Our Christmas tree is surrounded by presents and also an outer barriercomposed of Scat Mats (plastic mats that give a very mild zap when steppedon) to keep the cats out of the tree. Ithas worked so well over the years that any clear plastic mat, even if there isno zap, will keep my kitties off the counters and out of off-limits areas (Ithink perhaps I should set up a web cam to really observe what they are doingwhile Im at work, Im sure Id be surprised!).
Until next time
Dr. Ashley Manos
Robert A. Heinlein
Dr. Ashley Manos, Associate Veterinarian, Nashville Cat Clinic