Your Kitties & The Holidays: Some Considerations
It’s that time of year! The holidays are upon us! Tis’ the season! Deck the halls! Any more cliches I can throw your way?
To our cats, this is the time of year when we start peppering our houses with all sorts of confusing and enthralling objects, having lavish feasts they’re not invited to, and allowing crowds of strange humans into their territory. Without even asking their permission, how dare you.
Let’s put a pin in all this unbridled merriment for a second and talk about kitty safety. I know, it’s such a downer topic. I feel like that 3rd grade teacher who wears too much flair telling kids not to run at recess. (Why the hell not?? Are we against physical activity now?) But I wouldn’t even bring it up if it weren’t a legitimately compelling concern.
Kitties have died, y’all. So let’s hop to it!
Chocolate, while indulgent and delicious to us, is toxic to dogs and cats. I don’t know many cats who will feel tempted by chocolate, but it’s best to keep it out of their reach if you can.
The Front Door
The front door, already a scourge upon your poor indoor cat’s life, will come alive in horrific ways on Halloween. Every few minutes, it’ll be swung open to reveal hordes of your cats’ least favorite animal, children, dressed up as little monsters and shouting obnoxiously. Don’t get me wrong—I love children. My cats, not so much.
Keep your cat(s) segregated in a safe room with all their necessities on Halloween night. This will also keep them from fleeing out the front door in a fit of terror.
If you have outdoor cats, it’s a good idea to keep them inside for a few days leading up to Halloween, and probably for a few days afterwards. They won’t like it, but you’ll be protecting them from drunk assholes and sociopathic children.
Black cats are particularly vulnerable to cruel pranks around this time. (I know, it makes me angry too.)
While we’re on the topic of drunks and sociopathic kids, it might be best to keep your puppers indoors as well. No yard is 100% safe!
Many of our favorite feast ingredients are lethal to cats, and should be kept away from their grubby little paws. Do your cats like to scoop food out of your plate while you’re sitting there, glaring angrily, mere inches away? Mine do. Talk about habitual line-crossing.
Foods to keep away from your cats include: Grapes, raisins, onion (even small quantities of powdered onion), garlic, raw eggs, raw fish, and of course, chocolate.
If your cats are like mine, they love to knock shit over. Add lit candles, you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Whenever I light candles, I make sure to keep them somewhere inaccessible to my cats, like a very high bookshelf or narrow ledge. Even then, make sure you’re keeping an eye on them (the candles and your gremlins) at all times.
Most cats are quite adept at making themselves scarce when guests come around. However, if you have a particularly shy kitty, it may be advisable to keep them in a closed room for the duration of the evening. Keep food, water, a litter box, and comfy hiding spots available. A soft pet bed tucked under a human bed is as good as it gets for a skittish kitty.
Ah yes, the most hazardous month of them all.
It’s hard for your cat to understand that you haven’t gone into the forest and procured them a new climbing gym. That, rather, this large and enticing object is to be admired from a distance, and not touched.
Bring your tree in about a week earlier than you normally do, and don’t decorate it just yet. Let your cat get used to its presence, without the added distraction of shiny baubles. If you can, secure your tree to the wall with picture wire so it won’t topple over in the event of a kitty summit attempt. If you have a live tree, cover the base with netting so she doesn’t drink from the reservoir (the additives in the water can be toxic to cats).
If your cat has plenty of appealing vertical space alternatives, she shouldn’t feel overly enticed by this new addition to her space.
Ornaments & Lights
Coat decorative lights with a bitter-tasting spray, like Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray to prevent chew-age. And as much as it pains your OCD side, try not to decorate the bottom foot-or-so of the tree. Shiny baubles at your cat’s eye level can be too much for them to resist.
Some natural cat deterrent, like lemon rinds in a bowl or a homemade scent spray can also be effective in keeping your furry adventurers away from the tree altogether.
Do not use tinsel. PERIOD. Tinsel falls from the tree, your cats ingest it (because why not, they like to live on the edge), their intestines get blocked up, they require emergency surgery, or they die.
In fact, ribbon of any sort should be kept away from your kitties at all times. Long tendrils of ribbon and tinsel are irresistible playthings for a cat, and combined with their love of chewing/swallowing plasticky things (because, again.. why not), you’re bound to be headed for the emergency room.
The ongoing war you wage against your cats eating all your houseplants will only get more intense around the holidays. Especially if you tend to decorate with real holly, mistletoe, or poinsettias (all of which are toxic to cats), you’re going to have your hands full.
The wisest course of action is to avoid buying live holiday plants altogether—unless you’re sure they’ll be squarely beyond the reach of your furry little grinch.
WHEW! We made it. Everyone still alive??
Now that the downer part is over, go forth and be merry! Have a wondrous, epic, fluff-filled holiday. :]
Keep kitty safety and wellbeing top-o-the-mind at all times!