Thriving Cat

Pet Safety At The Holidays

Long haired white and orange cat in front of christmas tree

Pet Safety At The Holidays

Thanksgiving, Christmas and holiday season are a time to celebrate with our family, but it can also be a dangerous time for our beloved pets. There are many extra dangers during this time of year such as toxins, electrical cords, poisonous plants and irresistible but deadly curling ribbon and tinsel. If you know a few tips and which items to avoid you can insure your pet’s safety at the holidays.

The holiday season is rife with potential hazards for your kitty. While you can’t keep an eye on the cat every minute of every day, there are things you can do to help them stay safe. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Cats Love to Eat Curling Ribbon and Tinsel

There are many things around the home during the holidays that will be both tempting and potentially dangerous for your feline friend. Consider the following items and decide which are more important to include than the safety of your cat (none, in my opinion):

Curling Ribbon and Pets

Curling ribbon is pretty. I love it! But I had to stop using it because my cats will do anything to get a hold of it and chow down. I tried putting presents up on the table instead of on the floor. They just go on the table (which they know they aren’t supposed to do) to get to it. I tried keeping it all bagged up, so none of it was visible or sitting out. They somehow go straight for the bag and dig in until they find it! I seriously don’t understand how but my cats have ribbon radar! I simply can’t use it anymore. Unless it is kept in a sealed container. It is pretty hard to have presents with ribbon sealed up so I just stopped using it altogether. Find bows or use the even more elegant and stately wire edged ribbon! You can decorate gorgeous presents with color coordinated wire edged ribbon that is fabric, not the thin strands like curling ribbon. I think old fashioned wide ribbon looks nice anyway and wire edged ribbon can be reused year after year.

Tinsel and Cats

Okay, if you still have tinsel as a Christmas décor item and you have a cat, you need to get rid of it for the cat’s sake. Seriously, it’s a dangerous thing for cats. They seem unable to leave it alone and will chew it and swallow it. Any long, thin string like material that a cat (or dog) eats can pose a risk. It can get wrapped around their intestines and be vary dangerous.

Holiday Plants Poisonous for Pets

Holiday plants can be deadly for pets who chew on them. And that is a favorite thing for cats to do. Many of the plants brought into the home for the holidays fall into this category such as poinsettias, amaryllis and lilies. This post by Pam Johnson-Bennett gives a good overview of toxic Christmas plants. She has another more extensive list of common houseplants in general that are toxic.

Another danger lurks in the things that we consider treats for the holiday season. Chocolate, alcohol and other consumables may delight your taste buds, but they could prove fatal for the cat. Be careful of any food and drink left unattended.

Holiday Dangers for Pets

During the holidays there are other things around the house like potpourri or scented devices, snow globes (containing antifreeze), fake snow, and candles. Any of these can pose a threat to a curious cat who wants to investigate further by chewing or licking. Cats also have a habit of knocking things off a counter or table, risking breakage and leaking of liquids. Don’t leave candles unattended if you have pets or kids that could knock them over!

So, make sure that items not usually found around your home over the holidays are not left lying around for the cat to investigate and potentially get hurt or die.

Make sure there is no anti-freeze spilled where a dog or cat can lick it. Anti-freeze that leaks out of your cat onto the garage floor is particularly dangerous since it will sit in a puddle. Anti-freeze is DEADLY to cats and dogs.

Don’t use Aspirin or Other Toxic Additives to Tree Water

If you have a natural tree and you need to keep it watered, be sure to keep additives out of the tree water. Dogs and cats may drink it and get sick if it’s toxic. Or worse. Don’t use aspirin in the tree water if you have pets! Aspirin is commonly recommended for this purpose but it can be DEADLY to dogs and cats.  Cats are more sensitive to it than dogs. You should also keep in mind that cats can also become ill if they lick the natural oil on some real trees.

Keep Cat Off of The Christmas Tree

While the Internet is filled with funny cat videos involving the Christmas tree, it can be a dangerous place for your pet to hang out. There are live electrical cords, dangling decorations, toxic materials, and choking hazards, just to name a few.

The point is, you really should try to keep the cat away from the Christmas tree. Here are some things you can try:

Use a spray repellant that gives off a scent they don’t like but is not harmful to them. Some oils that repel cats, but are not harmful, include citronella, lavender, peppermint, lemongrass, and orange. You can also opt for a commercial cat repellant if you don’t want to make one yourself. You should also avoid placing tempting scents like catnip under the tree.

You can also make the cords less tempting by taping them down or hiding them under the tree skirt. Another option will be to skip the lights and electrical cords altogether if you think the cat will find a way to chew them. Make sure you don’t use tinsel if you have pets. Dogs may leave it alone (depending on the dog) but most cats seem drawn to it.

If the cat doesn’t have an interest in climbing the tree but loves to sit below and swat at the dangling ornaments, make sure to put the least breakable pieces on the lower half of the tree. And, if you go out, close off any access to the room the tree is in, or place the cat in a safe room.

If your efforts fail, and kitty finds a way to scale the challenging heights, it will be a good idea if you have the tree anchored to the wall or ceiling. The last thing you want is the tree landing on the cat and breaking bones.

Another thing that you can do to keep the cat’s attention away from the tree is to provide cat-friendly toys that will cause a distraction. Give your cat their own Christmas Tree! Here is my #1 recommended cat tree. It is tall, sturdy and very affordable. It holds up and my cats love it. This tree is a much better value than the ridiculously expensive trees in pet stores which would be $200-$300 for this size. It will provide the ability to climb, play, scratch on the 10 built in scratching posts and help cats feel safe and happy during the holidays. Cats love to be up high so let them! They are out from underfoot and won’t get in trouble if they are busy on their very own cat tree! You can read my review of this great cat tree here. Tall Cat Tree Houses review.

Ease Pet Stress At the Holidays

Just like at Halloween, or any other busy time, pets can become stressed by the unfamiliar people, strange sounds and sights, and general confusion. I get overwhelmed by the hectic time, much less the poor cat or nervous dog. Here are my top recommendations for easing pet stress. Use Jackson Galaxy’s line of calming drops/sprays. Jackson Galaxy Safe Space for Cats Drops and Jackson Galaxy Safe Space for Dogs Drops can help you get through the holidays with a happy pet. These products are a clear, almost odorless (to people) liquid that is applied to the fur or can be put in drinking water. I use these drops on my jumpy kitty every day and they keep him calm an happy. If you want to read more about these drops and other cat calming products I use check out my reviews here. Jackson Galaxy Safe Space For Cats review.

If your pooch needs help dealing with holiday stress you can also try a popular and effective Thunder Shirt for dogs. They come in multiple colors and sizes for any doggy need.

If you have a very chill kitty or pup who adjusts easily, that’s great, but if not, take steps to cut down on the anxiety level. You can designate a room as a safe place for them to be alone, or with a favorite human. That might be your bedroom with the door closed so they can escape from holiday visitors. Supply items that are familiar and bring comfort, like food, water, and special toys.

This festive time of the year can bring much joy and entertainment. But it can be downright dangerous to your beloved pet. Use common sense and keep your wits about you when it comes to pet safety at the holidays.

If you have any thoughts or questions please leave them in a comment below!


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  1. Strahinja

    Hey Jessica. Thank you for this informative and educational article. I’ve really had an amazing time reading it. I never knew there were so many possible harmful situations around the holidays. I always knew one thing. Keep my cat away from the Christmas tree :D.

    She was more then crazy about the decorations. Thank you for reminding me about the tinsels and curling ribbons. This is also something cats love exploring and eating. I will definitely pay more attention to the kind of details you explained in this article. I really appreciate your effort.

    You are going on bookmarks.


    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Thank you so much Strahinja. I am glad you found this useful and informative. I am lucky my cats are not too obsessed with Christmas trees but I know many are. I generally just have to keep any breakable ornaments up high and out of paw reach.

      With my cats the ribbon is the big problem and they are just obsessed so I had to stop using it.

      Thanks for stopping by and have a great holiday season.


  2. ecpags74


    You are absolutely right!  My cat loves to climb the tree and knock it over.  We removed the ornaments from all the lower branches.  She would also eat the tinsel which was a real mess when it passed through.

    I did not know that snow globes contain antifreeze.  That’s terrible!  It’s poisonous for small children as well as our pets if they break.

    Thank you for this informative article.  Lots of good information.

    Merry Christmas!


    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello Ellen,

      There a lot of potential dangers for pets around this time of year. Some cats may be obsessed over the tree or the lights, some might be too interested in the ribbon or the plants! For mine it is the ribbon, tinsel and for one of my girls it is the plants. I know to keep any plants with flowers out of here reach since she just loves to eat flowers.

      Thanks for stopping by and have a Merry Christmas!


  3. freddie

    Hello JESSICA 

    I love cats I have three of my own and I would hate for anything ba to happen to them.after seeing this site Thriving Cat  and  reading this article Pet safety at  the holiday. This let me know that you have to watch and make sure that you put your ribbons and tinsel in a sealed container. and never give cats or dogs chocolate or aspirin .My cats do love to climb and I think they would love a safe cat tree

    Thanks for Safety tips for my fury cats

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello Freddie,

      I am glad you found this useful. I have not met a cat yet that did not love a cat tree.

      Thank you for stopping by.


  4. Danette

    This is very helpful, Jessica. I think we all need to be more attentive to the safety of our pets. With the busyness of the holidays, changes in schedules and activities, as well as different decor, there could be some chaos for our pets. We should all make sure that they are healthy and safe, and that they feel loved and secure during this important time of the year. Merry Christmas!

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello Danette,

      Yes, the holidays can be confusing and unnerving for pets especially those that love calm and a set routine. If they expect us to come home at a certain time, be fed at a certain time and aren’t used to having lots of other people around they may get stressed.

      Thanks for stopping by,


  5. Henderson

    Hello Jessica, I see you have given very useful tips to use during the holiday. Like you have pointed out here, cats are very delicate and during Christmas, they can get to things that might harm them. I had learnt about this before and so we are always very conscious at home during these periods. I have learnt new stuff here today like keeping them away from tinsels. Thanks

    1. Jessica (Post author)

      Hello Henderson,

      Yes, tinsel and thin ribbon are the highest danger in my opinion. All cats seem attracted to them so it is very important that we keep them away from pets. I don’t use either anymore. I get pretty ornaments, lights and use large, wide wire edged ribbon instead. It is so pretty I don’t even miss tinsel or curling ribbon anymore. 



  6. John

    Oh, this is very good. I see this post was written since last year but even at that, I still think that it is very very useful. My sister’s cat will always jump around and I am very sure that the excitement will be heightened this holiday so the best thing to do is to make sure that one takes care of the dog not to do harmful things. I will explain what I have learnt here to my sister. I am very sure that she will understand. Thanks!

  7. EVA

    Hi Jessica, thank you for your article about pet safety at the holidays. You tried your best  touch some details which draw my attention. It is true ,during the holidays we are very busy and sometimes tired and we do not pay attention  about  the safety of those gorgeous creatures. I will share your website to my friends who have pets. Thanks again! 


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