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Festive season safety tips for cats

Festive season safety tips for cats
by Dr Caity Venniker

Read time: 4 min

The festive season has arrived. It’s a time for family and togetherness. But our cats don’t care. They’re as destructive and chaotic as ever. So us hardcore cat parents have got our work cut out for us.

But we’ve come prepared – here are our top tips to keep your cat safe and happy over the festive season.

The main dangers for cats over the holidays? Toxins and stress. Curious and greedy cats are more prone to eating things that they shouldn't. Shy cats may struggle with a busy household and change in routine.

This guide will help you identify potential threats, so you can prevent problems before they happen.

Holiday hazards for cats:

1. Toxins in food

Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which are toxic to cats. These occur in varying levels, being highest in dark chocolate. But even treats like hot chocolate or chocolate cake should be avoided – even small levels pose a risk.

Grapes and raisins: Mince pies and christmas pudding contain raisins, which cause kidney damage in cats. All the more reason for you to polish them off, pronto. 

Onions, garlic and leeks: Usually, cats will avoid these toxic vegetables, but when they’re hidden in meaty stuffing and covered in juicy gravy your cat might not be able to resist. Don’t leave your empty dinner plates unattended.

Rich, fatty foods: Festive table scraps can be especially fatty and rich, leading to sickness and diarrhoea. Your cat will love their fresh food every day of the year – there’s no need to top up with food from your table.

2. Toxins in plants and decorations

Christmas trees are a hazard for the most curious cats. If large amounts of fir tree oils are ingested it can cause vomiting. In rare cases, ingested needles can irritate the stomach.

Open flames are common this time of year, and whether it’s an advent candle or a menorah, don’t leave cats and candles unattended – they could hurt themselves or even start a house fire.

Poinsettias have a sap that’s mildly toxic to cats and can cause drooling, vomiting and diarrhoea when eaten.

Holly and mistletoe cause severe tummy upsets, but larger quantities can cause breathing problems and even seizures. Even dried leaves and berries should be kept out of reach. 

Lilies are one of the most life-threatening household dangers to cats, and even the pollen or water from the vase can cause kidney failure. Keeping them out of reach isn’t enough – keep them out of the house. Full stop.

Potpourri, especially in liquid form, is toxic to cats. Smelling the dry form can irritate their sensitive noses, but ingesting it can burn the mouth and also cause vomiting, fever, tremors and organ damage.

Festive decorations are quickly claimed as your cat’s new toys, so consider this when putting up the tree. Glass baubles and candles, for example, should be skipped.

Still want to get that festive feeling without risking your cat’s health? There are plenty of cat-safe plants you can keep in your home – check out our blog here.

3. Stress

Avoiding toxins can be easily done. But avoiding stress can be more challenging – especially if your cat is nervous or prone to stress-related bladder problems.

Get familiar with the signs your cat could be suffering from stress:

  • Hiding away more than usual

  • Going off their food

  • Being less affectionate

  • Not using the litter tray as usual

  • In males: struggling to pee. If your male cat is having difficulty urinating, this is a veterinary emergency. He could have a blockage in his urinary tract.

Prevention is always better than cure, so whilst you’re prepping for Christmas, plan for your cat, too. Here’s how:

  1. Pheromones. A pheromone plug-in or pheromone collar go a long way in reducing stress in cats. Check out our blog about pheromones here.

  2. Safe space. Keep one area of the house off-limits to guests and fill it with everything your cat may need: cat food, water, litter tray, toys and a cosy bed. 

  3. White noise. Noisy guests? Leave a TV or the radio playing softly in the cat-friendly area so that noise levels are more consistent. We’ve got a ‘relax your cat’ playlist here.

  4. Routine. Whilst your routine might change, stick to your cat’s normal as much as possible –  especially with mealtimes. 

Feeling ready to tackle the festive season as a hardcore cat parent? Head to the KatKin Club House on Facebook and share your tips for the holiday season. Looking for more advice? Contact our team of Vets, Vet Nurses and Cat Experts by emailing

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