Chris Kouwenhoven

Keep the holidays safe.

Be alert of these hazards:

Some holiday plants are toxic to cats including amaryllis, azalea, Christmas rose, holly and mistletoe. Poinsettias can be orally irritating, but are not considered dangerous. If in doubt about a plant's toxicity, contact your veterinarian.

Tinsel (foil or cellophane strands), string, ribbon, and yarn can all be deadly to cats. Once in their mouths, the backward-pointing barbs on their tongues make it difficult for them to expel these items. If you see the end of a swallowed string in your cat's mouth or extending from its anus, do not try to pull it out. Pulling on the string may cause the swallowed portion of the string to cut the cat's internal organs. Rush the cat immediately to the veterinarian.

Cat toys containing glued-on decorations, bells, strings, or eyes made from tacks (commonly found on the popular real-fur mice), should be stripped of these hazards before giving them to the cat. (If you wouldn't give the toy to a child under two years, don't give it to your cat!)

Dangling electrical cords can be an invitation to play--especially for a kitten. Tape the cords to the wall from the socket to the tree. Cords that can not be tucked away can be coated with clear Ivory dishwashing liquid. (Anti-chew sprays generally do not deter cats.) Unplug the lights when you plan to be away from home.

Candle flames are fascinating to many cats. Not only may curiosity cause them to singe their fur, but it is also possible that they may knock the candle over. Put candles on unreachable shelves and just to be safe, anchor them well.

Don't give the leftover turkey carcass to your cat. The meat is a nice treat, but cooked bones are brittle and can cut into your cat's insides. When you throw away the bones, take them directly outside and place them in a covered trash can.

The holidays can be fun for your cat, but they can be stressful too. Provide a safe refuge for Kitty containing all of his necessities for times when the household is too hectic. Plan to take a few minutes every so often to cuddle and stroke your cat. You both will be happier and more relaxed this holiday season.

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