Have a Purrfectly Pet-Safe Christmas

Christmas with Furry Friends

You may have seen it at your own home, or a friend’s, or just pictured it happening: the beautiful Christmas tree adorned with several hundred lights and decorations wiggles, and jiggles, and finally topples over with a crash as Arthur the cat climbs to capture the star. Or you may have memories of little Pepe, your Chihuahua, posing for a picture among the mini lights, but later you caught him drinking water from the tree stand, resulting in a clean-up in the “Christmas aisle.”

Christmas has to be celebrated with favorite pets nearby. But, the Christmas tree, the decorations, the lights, the holiday plants, the food, and the noisy parties can become sources of frustration for pet owners and potential dangers for pets. It is possible to enjoy all of the holiday hoopla while keeping your family pets safe.

Trees and Cats

Cat Climbing Up at Christmas Tree

Young cats and kittens are more fascinated with Christmas trees than adult cats are. They’re more prone to climb them, chew on them, pounce on ornaments, reach for the stars, and wreak havoc. Some eastern breeds like Siamese or Burmese cats keep up the antics even after reaching adulthood.
Some people just give up on the attempt to have a Christmas tree with cats, or at least for this year.

However, cat-proofing your Christmas tree is possible. ApartmentTherapy.com and Wikihow offer some practical tips:

Stabilize the tree by connecting the top of the tree to the ceiling with high test (nearly invisible) fishing line. This prevents the tree from tipping over when kittens and young cats are climbing it. Also, be sure that the tree is not placed near any lamps or breakables if it does fall. Consider putting the tree up on a table (if it’s 6 feet or less) and taping the stand to the top of the table.

Stabilize the ornaments and lights. Clamp ornaments to the tree using pliers to squeeze the wire ornament hooks tightly to the branches. Hang larger, unbreakable ornaments on the bottom branches. Lights can be duct taped to an extension cord which is unplugged at night. Dangling wires from lights should be gathered up and duct taped to the wall or secured with electric tubing.

Repel your kitties. Wrap the base of the tree in tin foil. It will still look pretty, but kittens hate to climb on it. Spray tree branches with a mixture of citronella oil in water (recommended for artificial trees). Keep orange peels around the base of the tree because cats dislike the smell (though it’s very pleasant to humans). Limit cat access to the tree room when you’re not home or at night.

Arthur’s an old fashioned guy. He loves the C7s in ruby red.
Peek-a-boo cat at Christmas

Peek-a-Boo Cat at Christmas by Matthew Paul Argall (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The biggest concern, however, is not the safety of the tree—it’s the safety of your pet. During the holiday season, cats and dogs are more at risk for ingesting toxins, getting an electrical shock from chewing wires, eating something that causes blockage, or getting lost. Most pets are lost during the Christmas holidays.

Keeping Pets Safe

The ASPCA and About.com advise the following pet tips for safety proofing your home for the holidays:

Holiday Pet Toxins

  • Stagnant tree water often has fertilizers in it which are harmful to your pet. It is also an ideal environment for growing bacteria.
  • Mistletoe and holly are toxic for dogs. Holly causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe, when ingested, can cause gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems. Poinsettias are toxic to dogs and cats.
  • Artificial snow is toxic.
  • Many human foods are toxic to pets. Grapes and raisins are toxic to dogs. High amounts of onions and garlic can cause anemia in pets. Alcoholic beverages or recreational drugs are harmful for your pet.

Pet ID and Pet Solitude

  • Make sure your pet has a collar and ID on, especially during the holiday season. Many dogs run off or become lost during the holiday season.
  • During parties, you may prefer to have your pet wear a bow and mingle, but your pet may be more relaxed in a separate room, or in a crate. The extra noise, stimulation, and people can be exhausting for some pets.
The quintuplets love parties and their favorite lights are flashing multi-color minis.
Santa Puppies on a Sofa

Via Attack of the Cute

Be sure to keep wires and extension cords away from where pets can chew on them. The safest lights to have for your decorations are LED lights—cool to the touch, durable and energy efficient. Holiday LEDs’ battery operated micro dots and LED mini lights are great selections around pets.

Pepe loves hot nights, spicy food, tango music and warm white minis.
Christmas Chihuahua

Christmas Chihuahua by wsilver, on Flickr

Mia’s mom wouldn’t get a tree last year. But this year Mia is hoping for battery operated micro dots for Christmas—in purple.