Cats and Christmas Catastrophes

Time to Cat-Proof for the Holidays

Canine dietary indiscretions like chocolate, raisins, grapes, and turkey carcasses are well known. Let’s be fair; cats deserve recognition for their high risk Christmastime binging too.

Tinsel tops their list. Once swallowed peristaltic movements often advance it safety toward the proper exit but if a strand gets hung up, those back and forth motions cause major trouble. Wads of tinsel form serious obstructions. Lengths of it saw holes in the intestinal wall. At our house recognized a choice: decorate with tinsel or have a cat. We’ve chosen our cat.

The silica gel packs included as moisture absorbents in many gifts are compelling toys. Cats who eat a little of the contents do OK but consuming mass quantities will cause a belly ache. Swallowing a whole packet can obstruct the intestines.

Imbibing on Christmas tree water? Additives intended to prolong the pulse of this festive symbol aren’t a problem but bacterial/fungal contaminants can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Sampling the boughs themselves? Regardless of tree species snacking kitties may lose their appetites, vomit, and suffer abdominal pain. Swallowed needles can obstruct the gut. A floor-to-ceiling cat tree, festooned with dangling catnip toys and located against a window, is a funner alternative to a boring old tree on life support anyway.

Poinsettias have long been reviled as the Grinch that stole pet Christmases but a cat would have to really stuff himself to get even mildly sick. Ditto for Christmas cactuses. Holly, another feline holiday delicacy, causes kitties to feel rather ill but survival is expected.

Mistletoe (who would hang it low enough for a cat to reach?) causes mild stomach upset if only a few nibbles are taken. Beware of plastic berries. Kitties who swallow those spend their Christmas break recovering from surgery. Amaryllis are not our cats’ friends. Ingestion of the leaves and flowers causes drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. A cat who consumes the bulb can suffer low blood pressure, weakness, staggering, trembling, and convulsions.

Finally, if Effexor is part of your holidays pay attention to the pill bottles. Like silica gel packs they make fun toys. Spilled tablets are tasty to cats who respond by vomiting, staggering, dilatation of the pupils, racing hearts, and agitation. They need emergency treatment.