Dr Barclay from Abbeywood Cat Hospital provided us with this informative blog entry to help keep your cat safe and happy this holiday season. Thank you Dr Barclay! You can visit her clinic website at www.abbeywoodcathospital.com
The Holiday Season has arrived, a time for decorating, partying, feasting, fun and limitless opportunities for cat-related holiday mishaps. While there is no way to fully cat-proof this time of year, an awareness of potential problems is helpful.
Decorations abound during the holidays. Things we see as sources of ornamentation for our homes, the cat sees them as curiosities to be explored. Trees to climb, candles to knock over, ornaments to chase and break, lights, garland and tinsel to chew on, the list goes on. Take a step back from the scene to look for things that are shiny, wiggly, colorful, illuminated or even just different, and know these are intriguing to your cat. Try to decorate with non-breakable items when possible, avoid live flames, be sure trees and other decorations are held securely. If your cat is a particularly curious or bold individual, you may want to limit the cat’s access to decorated sections of the home.
Holiday plants are another source of trouble. Some holiday plants contain toxic substances and will cause illness if ingested. This ASPCA link is a good resource regarding toxic plants https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/cats-plant-list. Keep in mind, however, that any ingested plant material, chemically toxic or not, can cause illness. The physical presence of foreign plant material in the cat’s stomach is enough to make many cats quite sick. Live evergreens, the staple of many holiday decorations, are another source of problems. Some cats are allergic to evergreens and will develop a skin rash when exposed. Contact with the sap can result in skin irritation. Ever try removing sticky tree sap from the coat of a cat? Have fun with that! Do not let the cat drink from the water reservoir of your tree, especially if you have added a preservative to it. And remember, no matter how beautifully decorated it may be, it is still a tree, and from your cat’s perspective it is there to be climbed. If you allow your cat to be near the tree, be sure it is secure in the stand and consider additional reinforcements or supports.
Guests, unusual schedules, and holiday parties are another source of feline angst this time of year. The stresses associated with these events can result in medical and/or behavioral problems for many cats. Stress is not just a state of mind; when stressed the body responds with chemical changes that can affect pre-existing medical problems. The eating pattern of your cat may be affected by the presence of unfamiliar people or pets in the home. These factors should be discussed with your veterinarian as medication, or changes in medication, may be necessary. This is particularly important for older more fragile cats, and cats with health problems such as diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease or urinary tract disorders. Behavior problems including inappropriate litter box behavior and aggression can be precipitated by the arrival of guests. Doors being opened frequently and a frightened cat are the recipe for a lost pet. Providing your cat with a private, quiet place to be away from the action is always recommended. The cat retreat should include food, water, a nice place to sleep and a litter box. And make sure your cat is microchipped, just in case!
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