Christmas Safety Tips for Cats and other Pets

Adapted from an AAFP (American Association of Feline Practitioners) Newsletter

While all of this information applies to our feline (cat) friends, much of it would be applicable to other pets such as ferrets and dogs too.

Cat in Tree

Cat in Tree

  • Make sure your Christmas tree is secure. It is hard for a cat, and nearly impossible for a kitten to resist the temptation to climb. Fishing line (or some other securing method) tied to the tree and strategically attached to the wall can prevent a disastrous crash.
  • For live trees, keep the water supply full.  But, cover it to prevent consumption by any of your pets. Tree sap can cause digestive upsets.
  • Be careful with ribbon, string, bows. etc.  Cats like to chew and swallow objects like that.  If swallowed, besides causing vomiting and other digestive upsets, they could cause an obstruction (blockage). And, no one wants their pet to need surgery to remove an intestinal obstruction as a holiday "present".
Cat with wrapping material

Cat with wrapping material

  • Avoid tinsel and garlands for the same reason. They are attractive but can be deadly if eaten by your cat.
  • Take care how you display special or breakable ornaments. Cats delight in exploring, and will often end up knocking things over and onto the floor.
  • Be aware of disruptions to your cat’s normal routines. House guests, parties and travel can be stressful. Pay particular attention to your cat’s attitude, demeanor, litter box usage, and appetite.  Also, always provide your cat with safe hiding spots.
  • Mistletoe is a common holiday decoration.  Ingestion of a few leaves or berries will generally cause just a mild gastritis.  But, larger ingestions may require decontamination and cardiovascular monitoring.
  • Exposure to some types of liquid potpourris through spills, from simmer pots, or rubbing against leaky bottles can result in severe oral, skin, or eye damage in cats.


  • Feline Holiday Hazards, VIN Rounds Handout, Tina Wismer, DVM, DABVT, DABT, December 10, 2008.
  • Personal communication. Debra M. Givin DVM