‘Tis the Season for Holiday Hazards

Keep your kitty safe this Christmas!
We are going to take a brief break this month before finishing the last part of the diet series. Let’s talk about potential toxins and hazards of the holiday season. Winter is a potentially dangerous time for pets, especially those that live or spend time outside. For example, cats are especially prone to frostbite of the ears.

However, the holiday season adds its own unique hazards. Many people like to have holly, poinsettias, and/or mistletoe displayed for the Christmas season. All three vary in toxicity to cats (and dogs) and should be kept out of reach. Holly and poinsettias are generally mildly toxic. They contain substances that are physically irritating and, when ingested, can cause drooling, lip smacking, vomiting, or diarrhea. Signs are typically more severe with holly ingestion. The sap of the poinsettia can also cause skin irritation such as redness, swelling, and itchiness. Mistletoe, when ingested in small quantities, is also mildly toxic and can cause stomach upset such as vomiting and diarrhea; but ingestion of large quantities can cause abnormal heart rate, collapse, low blood pressure, ataxia (walking drunk), seizures, and death.

Holiday decorations this time of year can also pose a hazard to cats. Many cats love to climb in Christmas trees and can potentially knock them over or fall out of them. Some cats also like to chew on the pine needles or branches. The sap from damaged branches can be mildly irritating to mucus membranes, resulting in drooling. Ingestion of pine needles (live or artificial) can cause stomach irritation, obstruction, or intestinal perforation. Intestinal obstruction and perforation can be extremely life threatening!

Other fun but dangerous cat toys this season include: ribbon, tinsel, garland, or anything long and stringy. Cats simply love to play with these things and frequently chew on them. Even if your kitty doesn’t mean to swallow these items, they will be swallowed if they get caught on their barbed tongue. Any of these items can cause an intestinal obstruction, which again, can become life threatening.

So, be mindful of your feline friend, but please have a joyous season!

From all of us at Cats On Broadway Hospital, we wish you Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year!