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  • Kathy Rodeffer

Kitty Post: Holiday Hazards for Pets

December is a wonderful time for families as they celebrate various holidays throughout the month, followed by a New Year’s celebration. Unfortunately, the holidays can be a dangerous time for our furry family members. We must keep a watchful eye on our pets during the holidays as our routines may be different, decorations and different foods abound, and friends and family come and go. Here are a few things to consider during the weeks ahead:

1. When you have visitors, keep an eye on your pet when they come and go to make sure your pet does not get out. Various social media sites regularly have postings about lost pets. Such postings may increase during the holidays.

2. Holiday plants are beautiful but can cause upset stomachs or even death. Always read about the plants before you put them within reach of your pets. Mistletoe and holly (vomiting, diarrhea), yews (very toxic – seizures, difficulty breathing), lilies (life threatening kidney damage), and poinsettias (gastrointestinal issues, vomiting) should be kept away from pets.

3. Tinsel and ribbons are very interesting to cats. They love to chew them. Cats that eat them can get a blockage in their intestines. Ribbons may be beautiful on packages, but they can be deadly to cats.

4. Christmas trees can also be dangerous. The needles of fir, spruce and pine trees can be mildly toxic to cats. Pine needles may be “fun” for cats to eat but they do not pass easily and can cause an intestinal blockage. Cats may also try to climb Christmas trees, causing them to fall.

5. Christmas tree water can be dangerous because it can contain bacteria, pesticides, and mold. Don’t put additives into your Christmas tree water as it can make your cat sick. Cover your Christmas tree stand to prevent pets from drinking the water.

6. Pets are often curious about ornaments that hang down from Christmas trees. Consider hanging wooden, metal, or resin ornaments on the lower branches. Ornaments made of glass can break and cut our pets as well as family members. Trim the tree as if you had a human toddler in the house.

7. Always watch to make sure that your pets do not chew lights and wires.

8. Alcohol can be poisonous to pets and can lead to coma and death. During the holidays when some people have more alcohol in the house than usual, be careful to monitor your drinks carefully.

With a little extra diligence and observation, we can keep the holidays happy for both two legged- and four-legged family members. If your pet does ingest something harmful and you can’t get to a vet quickly, contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 for instructions on what to do.

Are you looking at the upcoming winter with dread? If you are not particularly excited about spending the cold days and nights hanging out at home, consider fostering a cat or some kittens for Beltsville Community Cats. Foster kitties are entertaining, warm, cuddly, and loveable. Fostering is a great way to experience the joys of pet ownership without making a long-term commitment. Having children help with foster kitties gives them something to do and a sense of responsibility. Want to learn more about fostering, contact BCC at

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