Holiday De-Stress Tips for Cats

The holiday season can be a stressful time for a cat.  Here are some tips to keep your feline friend(s) safe and happy:

  • Provide solitude.  Visitors and their accompanying noise and traffic can be very stressful to your cat.  Allow your cat access to her favorite place, free from the holiday hubbub, so she can retreat and relax. This is especially important if your cat will be around unfamiliar young kids.  Also, be aware that guests may not be as careful as you at keeping doors and gates closed, so make sure your cat is carefully secured within the house or yard.
  • Keep poisonous and dangerous plants away.  Seasonal toxic plants include mistletoe, poinsettias, holly, many types of lilies, pine boughs, and even the water that leaches from your Christmas trees.  Ingested pine needles can cause digestive tract blockage and irritation.  Keeping your pets away from these plants might just save you a trip to the pet emergency clinic.  Additionally, your Christmas tree should be well anchored so that it doesn’t get knocked down, possibly resulting in your cat getting injured or tangled up.
  • Many holiday decorations can be enticing to your pet and become problematic when swallowed.  Cats are particularly drawn to ribbons, bows, and tinsel.  If you must use ribbons, avoid types that are long and/or contain wire.  Place tinsel high enough on your tree to prevent your cat from reaching it.  Light cords, when chewed or frayed, can cause severe burns or electrocution.  Similarly, candles can be dangerous and may pose a fire hazard (we have all seen one or two cats with singed whiskers).  Prevent these disasters by keeping decorations out of reach or locked in an inaccessible room.
  • Make holiday trips safe and prepare for them well in advance.  Take special precautions when traveling with your cat.  Several days before departing, consult with your veterinarian about how to properly prepare for the type of trip you are planning to make it as easy as possible for your kitty.
  • Table scraps aren’t pet snacks. Many holiday foods are loaded with fat and sodium and can cause stomach upset.  Too much rich food can cause serious inflammation of the pancreas and digestive tract, which may be life-threatening.  Table scraps and sweets are commonly ingested by pets and in many cases can lead to an upset stomach or worse.  Remember, chocolate (particularly dark chocolate) is toxic to pets.  It contains theobromine, a potent cardiovascular and central nervous system stimulant that is eliminated very slowly in cats.  Stay disciplined in keeping your cat on its normal maintenance diet.
  • For an easy bake cat treat, use your cat’s favorite dry kibble and grind it into flour using a blender.  Add enough water until it is the consistency of dough.  Cut the dough into cookie shapes and bake on a cookie sheet for approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Hopefully a quick review of these items will keep your cat or cats safe and happy for the holiday season.  Happy holidays from the doctors and staff at Cat and Exotic Care!

Max Conn, DVM is the owner of Cat & Exotic Care of the Central Coast, a full-service veterinary hospital dedicated to the special needs of cats, birds, reptiles and small mammals.  Cat & Exotic Care is located in Pismo Coast Plaza, 565 Five Cities Drive, 773-0228, and is open from 8-5:30 Monday through Saturday.  More information can be found at

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Disclaimer: The informational handouts and website links above are for informational purposes only, they are not intended to replace veterinary care.