Holiday Hazards for Cats

Monday, November 30, 2009

Reprinted with permission from the Mewsletter of Cats Exclusive

The risk of foreign body ingestion and accidental poisoning for cats increases during the holiday season. Here is a list of potential holiday hazards to help you decide what you need to do to make your home "cat safe" for the holidays.

Poinsettias are considered non-toxic but if chewed can cause significant mouth and throat irritations and gastrointestinal issues, leading to vomiting and diarrhea.

Mistletoe can be very toxic and if swallowed could cause problems ranging from gastrointestinal issues to potentially fatal cardiac problems.

Lilies that may be found in holiday arrangements could be deadly to your cat if ingested. Many types of lilies such as Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Easter, Stargazer and the Casa Blanca can cause kidney failure in cats.

Amaryllis Bulbs are toxic to cats and if chewed can cause vomiting, diarrhea and potentially tremors.

Ribbons and Tinsel are very appealing targets for cats and kittens, but if ingested they can obstruct or perforate the intestines, requiring surgical removal. Ribbons, tinsel, mylar, string, yarn or any other thin, linear object will stick to a cat's barbed tongue during play and then be swallowed unintentionally.

Ornaments can be deadly in the mouths and stomachs of cats, especially glass ones which can cut the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract. Ornaments with small pieces that could be chewed off are a also a potential danger.

Light Cords should be covered up or hidden, and chewing should never be allowed as they could electrocute your cat. Kittens are especially known for chewing cords.

Christmas Tree Water may contain fertilizers which, if ingested, could cause gastrointestinal upset. Likewise, stagnant tree water can be a breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.

Holiday Foods, as a rule, should not be shared with your feline friends. This time of year it is tempting, but it is not a good idea to share foods they are not used to eating such as rich, spicy or fatty foods or chocolate - this can trigger a bout of intestinal upset. For some cats, this could even trigger a serious inflammation of the pancreas, which may require hospitalization.

Hazardous Cat Toys abound in retail stores this time of year, which can pose serious health problems for cats. Make sure the toys you purchase do not have dangerous ribbons, yarn, tinsel and small pieces that could be ingested by your cats. If you buy any toy from Cats Exclusive, you can rest assured that it has been approved by our veterinarians for safety.


Antifreeze has a pleasant taste to cats, but very small amounts can be lethal. In fact, less than one teaspoon can be deadly. Be sure to thoroughly clean up all spills, store antifreeze in a tightly closed container, and store it in secured cabinets.

Ice melting products can be irritating to a cat's skin and mouth. Depending on the actual ingredients of the ice melt and the quantity, signs of ingestion include excessive drooling, depression, vomiting.

Rat and mouse poisons are used more commonly during colder weather and can be deadly to pets. When using rat and mouse bait, place the products in areas that are inaccessible to your pets.

For information on other feline health related topics, visit the Cats Exclusive online library.

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