Cat Knows Safe Holiday Decor!

We get asked a lot of questions about cats and Christmas trees, decorating and foods, especially this question:  "Can we have a tree, how can we keep the cat from climbing it or trying to destroy it?!"

Not a problem; here's your guide to a safer and saner holiday with your cats.  Be they residents in your house or guests, here's what you need to know:

Christmas Trees

They present an array of dangers, from prickly pine needles to tempting glass ornaments and strings of lights. If an adventurous feline decides to climb the tree for a closer look at the angel on top....well, the whole thing can come crashing down, causing enough of a ruckus to make even Santa Claus grumpy.

If you decide to put up a tree, watch your cats carefully at first and have a water squirt bottle handy to set the ground rules right from the get-go.  Rule number 1:   NO climbing the tree!

Also, make sure the decorations near the bottom of the tree are not anything a cat could/would eat or be able to wrestle off the tree. Wood decorations are good, as are cloth bows. Please, NO tinsel, anywhere on the tree. Use strands of popcorn instead. Better yet, go for an old-fashioned Christmas tree look....and you'll find yourself with a cat friendly tree as well!


All parts of the poinsettia are dangerous to a well as to humans! Symptoms of poinsettia consumption include rash or blistering of the skin, mouth and throat irritation, vomiting and diarrhea. Keep all live plants, especially this one, out of cat's reach. Or, better yet, get a silk one. They've got some beauties out there now...and if you put them away carefully you can use them for many years!


Yeah, the humans make a big deal out of this stuff, kissing and giggling, and most of the time it's hanging up high where a cat can't reach it. However, should it fall into the paws of a cat...or a baby's bad stuff. Definitely not kissing material. Symptoms of mistletoe ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions and coma. Hang it real high and don't leave it out, like on a table or something, before and after you hang it. Better yet, use the fake stuff.


Not as dangerous as mistletoe and poinsettias, but still no fun for cats or humans to eat. Ivy, either English or Baltic, will cause labored breathing, diarrhea and possible coma if enough of it is ingested.


For many people, overindulging in sweets may result in a few extra pounds--but for our animal companions, the consequences are much greater if they accidentally ingest cookies, candy or baked goods containing chocolate.

In any form, ranging from one-ounce baking squares to brownies, chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both methylxanthines that can cause stimulation of the central nervous system, an increase in heart rate and tremors.  Clinical signs are vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, hyperactivity, and increased thirst, urination and heart rate.

Don't leave your pet unsupervised in the kitchen if you're baking.  And if you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, call your veterinarian or the APCC's emergency hotline--1-888-426-4435--for round-the-clock telephone assistance.

A Cat Knows "Quick Home Decor" Tip:   Use fake greenery as often and as much as possible. It lasts for years, it's versatile, never dies, and noone gets sick if it's eaten.

I also get asked a lot about dried plant & flower arrangements.  Cat knows they are popular...and attractive...but IF they contain foreign tropical plant material such as seed pods and beans (that are poisonous), limit their use to wreaths or places not accessible to a cat.

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THE CAT CO.® 2005