My 3 Christmas do’s and don’ts with cats
The festive season is upon us, and us humans just love to decorate our homes with the brightest, shiniest decorations we can find! This is great, but how safe is it for our kitties? Do you feel safe leaving your cats at home alone with all these goodies that could potentially cause harm them? Here are some do’s and don’ts over this festive season when it comes to your furry feline companion that you might have overlooked.
Christmas tree – to put it up, or not to put it up?
We all want that Christmas tree in our homes, either because you still have small children who believe in Santa Clause, or because, like me, you just want to bring as much festivities into your home as possible. What do you do when your cat decides that this activity of putting the tree up must be just for him/her, and before you know it, the tree is on the ground. In my opinion, it is all about sticking to a training schedule, or disciplinary schedule with your cat.
We put up our tree a week earlier than usual this year. I’ve had such a busy year that I just could not wait anymore! As most of you know, I have an 8-month old kitten who has not lived through a Christmas yet. Getting the tree out and assembling it was such fun with Scotch around. He was smelling everything, swatting at the decoration balls and taking a run and dive into the tinsel that was lying on the ground waiting to be put up. Christmas most definitely came early for Scotch this year! But, as I was going about putting the tree together and decorating it I was “hissing” at Scotch when I thought he was getting just a little bit too boisterous. This has helped because now, whenever he goes to the tree and starts swatting at the decorations I just make that same sound and he stops immediately. Just a side note, this will not work necessarily if you have not used this tactic in other situations, i.e. if you have never “trained” your cat he might just look at you dumbfounded! But, it is worth a try.
Decorations – which ones are potentially harmful to your cat?
As mentioned earlier, we all love the shiny, bright lights in our homes, but there is some decor that could be harmful to your cat:
Cats are very intrigued with the shimmering of the tinsel on and around the Christmas tree. This can be harmful to your cats should they digest it. Always watch your cats around tinsel, and if you see that your cat enjoys chewing on it, rather be safe than sorry and just remove it for now.
- Ribbons and ropes
Some of us enjoy tying the odd decoration with ribbon or rope onto the tree, or onto a door. Although we love to go all out as humans, our kitties could get into quite a bit of trouble should they get a hold of the rope or ribbon. Especially if there is nothing tied on the end of the rope or ribbon, cats have little tooth like spikes on their tongues that point towards the back of their throats. Should your cat chew at the rope that does not have anything heavy tied to the end of it, he will battle to spit it out, causing him to swallow it. This could have detrimental health effects on your little one as it could tangle around their little tummies and just cause big problems overall. Always make sure that whatever rope you use that there is something tied to the end of it at all times.
- Flowers / plants
I suppose these decorations are all year round, not just on Christmas, but, aiming to stick to the theme of this blog, there are some Christmas plants, specifically, that are poisonous for our little fur balls, namely:
- Poinsettia– these are the red and green leafy plants that all of us grew up with on the dinner table or coffee table in our homes over the festive season. These are considered as mildly toxic as if digested by your cat can cause irritation of the mouth, oesophagus and stomach. Furthermore, you are not always aware of how plants are treated at the nursery, which would obviously be more toxic for cats if digested.
- Holly and Mistletoe– The berry type plant that so many of us get to decorate our homes over the festive season is extremely toxic for our cats if digested. This can cause extreme intestinal problems and even severe drop in blood pressure. Best to just keep them out of the home with cats.
- Lillies– personally, I just love lillies. I’ve always loved them and even had them on my wedding day. All parts of the plant are poisonous, some parts are deadlier, yes, deadlier, than others but best to just keep these out of your home with cats.
Sweets, chocolates - everywhere!
Growing up, my mother would always put bowls of sweets out during the festive season. We weren’t a big sweet eating family growing up, but over the festive season, one would say we over indulged! Most people do, and rightfully so! But for our kitties this should never be given to them. Cat’s cannot digest the sugar the way we do as humans, and chocolate is toxic for cats. Dark chocolate contains higher quantities of theobromine and caffeine which are the toxic properties chocolates carry. Rule of thumb is, cats don’t have a sweet tooth, they can’t taste sweet objects, so even if they show most interest in your sweet cravings while you are munching away, this will not have the same satisfaction for your kitty, so don’t even bother! There are so many treats available for cats that are healthy and made just for them. If you would like to treat your kitty over the festive season, rather give them something they can eat, and with the added benefit of you knowing that they will not come to any harm.
To conclude, the festive season is a great time for family members to get together, and you will probably spend some time away from your fur babies. Always ensure that there is someone to look after them should you be away from them for longer than a day, to give them food and water specifically, but also because they too want and need companionship.
Even though this time is a joyous time, it can come with some complications and extra planning should you have a cat sharing your home with you. Always consider your kitties with any plans you are making whether it is in the home, and if you are planning to go away.
They are after all, a part of the family, let them have a great festive season too!
Being an avid cat lover, I’ve seen and heard many stories about kitties, what works, what doesn’t work when brining a new kitten into your home. I myself have done it five times, and as I sit here, I am busy introducing Scotch into his new surroundings. So here are my tips on how to make it as stress free for you, the new addition, and if you have older residents, for them to.
Your cats Body Language are more than words
All felines speak the same language, whether you’re from the snowy hills in Siberia, or the sunny concrete jungles of Johannesburg. All our feline friends speak loudly through their body language. If you take a close look at our domestic cat’s ancestors, namely the big cat for example, lions, tigers and leopards, just to name a few, they all have very similar characteristics.