Ahhhh...the holidays. The tempting flavors of Christmas cookies and pumpkin pie, the fresh scent of pine perfuming the air, the twinkle of lights and delicate glass balls, the thundering crash of the tree as kitty tries to climb it.
Yes, the holidays can be a challenge when you have a cat in the family, particularly a rambunctious kitten. But with a little judicious planning and a healthy application of common sense, you and kitty can not only survive the holidays, but enhance the enjoyment for the whole family.
Here are some dos and don'ts for maintaining the safety of your cat during cold, wintry weather:
- Wrap or shield electric cords to prevent kittens from chewing them. Plastic tubing for this purpose is available from hardware stores.
- Use a sturdy tree stand, preferably with a water container. Anchor your tree with guy wires if necessary.
- Exchew the chemicals sold to keep trees fresh. They may be toxic to cats if they decide to drink from the tree stand reservoir.
- Put non-breakable ornaments at the bottom of the tree. Save the expensive glass/antique ones for the higher branches or hang them high up in a window. Stuffed cotton ornaments are easy and fun to make--make a special, sturdy one for your cat while you're at it.
- Set aside one room as a "safe room" for your cats to stay when you're shopping or out to dinner. "Furnish it" with a scratching post, food and water dishes and litter box, along with plenty of toys, so your cats will feel at home, but leave the decorations to other rooms.
- Make sure your cats have collars with identification. Even indoor cats can escape during the comings and goings of family and guests during this busy season.
- Clean the floor of your garage of any puddles of anti-freeze, motor oil, and such. Anti-freeze is sweet-tasting and attractive but lethal to cats. Best yet, keep the garage off-limits to your cats.
- Honk your car horn before starting it on cold mornings. Cats are irresistibly drawn to the warmth of the engine, and can suffer injuries from the fan belt.
- Keep your clothes dryer closed between uses and check inside each time you use it, for the same reason as above.
- Feed your cat table scraps. Fatty meats, rich gravies and sauces are too rich for cats. If you feel you must share turkey with them, whip up some Turkey Delight. It can be offered to your fuzzy friends any time of the year as a special treat.
- Give your cats candy, especially chocolate, which can be poisonous to them if fed in quantity, or over a period of time.
- Use tinsel or metallic garland as tree decorations. Cats will eat it, and can suffer dangerous internal blockages as a result.
- For the same reason, do not leave packaging ribbons lying around on the floor or use them as an unsupervised toy. Instead, let Fluffy bat around a rolled-up ball of wrapping paper. She'll love the crinkly sounds and playtime will be less hazardous.
- Leave cats outdoors on cold nights. Better yet, keep them inside at all times. They'll be safer all-around and not be subject to health problems caused by exposure.
- Don't ever leave a cat unattended in a room lit with candles. In any case, keep your candles up high where your cat can't reach them, and only light them when you're going to be in the room.
- Unless you have an extremely calm cat, don't dress him in cute costumes for the season. A few minutes for a photo is plenty long enough, if you feel you must.
- Don'tget a pet as a surprise gift. The holidays are not conducive to introducing a new cat into a home, and the recipient may not share your enthusiasm. If you know for sure your friend or loved one wants a cat, just give them a card with a promise, and accompany them to the shelter to pick out their special "gift" after the holidays.
- Don't forget to set aside some special quiet time to share with your precious pal. Holidays can be hectic, and you'll love the memories even more, in later years.