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HARLIGEN, Texas (October 18, 2013) During the holiday excitement, cat owners should stay aware of seasonal hazards that could make it an unhappy for their pets—such as decorations that beckon as new (and potentially dangerous) toys, enticing smells (from substances that may be toxic) and the arrival of strangers into your pet’s familiar territory. The International Cat Association (TICA) has come up with some tips for cat owners to ensure they and their pets will enjoy a happy and healthy 2013 holiday season.

Decorate with caution. Kitty’s reaction to your carefully decorated Christmas tree?  “Hello, new climbing perch!” Cats naturally love heights, but it’s no fun for either of you if your furry friend’s acrobatics bring the whole tree down.  Instead of a ceiling-height tree, consider a small one set on a tabletop— or put the tree in a place where it can be well secured.

When you decorate your tree, keep in mind not just how attractive it will be to human viewers but also to your cat.  Leave the bottom of the tree ornament-free to avoid temptation. Dangling ornaments are hard for your pet to resist.  So are long, shiny strands of tinsel or ribbon.  If your cat eats one, surgical removal may be required.

Cats may also be tempted to chew on electrical cords hanging from strings of lights or moving decorations.  Secure them against the wall or wrap them around branches.

Don’t tempt with scents. Fragrant candles and potpourri are popular holiday accessories, but exercise caution.  Extinguish the flames when you are not at home and put the candle where your cat isn’t likely to knock it over; an open flame can become a serious fire hazard.  Best of all: Use “flameless” electronic candles instead of wax candles.

Research before you buy a holiday plant to make sure it won’t harm kitty, who may like to claw, lick, groom or nibble on plants. Learn more Poisonous Plant list http://www.tica.org/public/health.php. Some common decorative choices have unpleasant side effects.

  • Poinsettias may irritate your cat’s mouth, causing excess salivation; may also cause nausea and vomiting salivation.
  • Mistletoe can cause diarrhea and lethargy
  • American Mistletoe can result in difficulty breathing, severe irritation to digestive tract, excessive thirst, unsteadiness
  • Holly may cause vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, hyper-salivation, headshaking or lip-smacking.

These “treats” may harm your pet. An abundance of food in the house make this the “purr-fect” time for our feline friends to snatch scraps from the table or kitchen counter and suffer the unpleasant results.

Rice, and fatty foods such as gravy or grease, can cause problems raging from stomach upsets to pancreatitis, and symptoms including pain, vomiting, and dehydration. Many other foods that can be dangerous so take care not to leave any food uncovered and accessible to your pet, either in serving dishes or in used plates and glasses.

Drinks can be problematic too. Eggnog is extremely stimulating to cats’ olfactory sense, so they are likely to lick it out of an accessible punchbowl or abandoned glass. Alcoholic beverages can cause serious intoxication.  Coffee is also very toxic to our pets.

Don’t leave candy around. You may be surprised to discover that cats have a sweet tooth, but chocolate can be toxic to them. Also, discard candy wrappers, which if ingested can lodge in a digestive tract and require surgical removal.

Make an effort to explain the potential dangers of foods and beverages to guests so they’ll aid your efforts to keep the area pet-safe.

Not all cats put out the welcome mat. During a social gathering, reduce stress on less-social felines by keeping them confined to a room where they can rest in quiet and feel safe  Be sure to provide a litter box, fresh water, food, and “play-alone” toys so they feel comforted rather than ignored.

If your cat is comfortable in a crowd, make sure he or she is wearing proper, up-to-date identification tags.  If the door is opened and closed frequently while you’re entertaining, your indoor cat may escape.

Again, whenever possible, make guests aware of your cat’s safety needs so they, too, can be alert to dangers. To make the holiday season joyful as well as safe, also remember to take a moment to play and spend quality time with your special feline friend. That’s the best gift you can provide to your cat for the holiday!

About The International Cat Association
Organized during 1979, The International Cat Association (TICA) is the world’s largest genetic registry of pedigreed cats, largest registry of household pet cats and kittens as well as one of the world’s largest sanctioning bodies for cat shows. TICA currently recognizes more than 54 breeds of cats.

No matter where you are, you’re in TICA’s world­—a world of fabulous felines…fun…and friendships.

To learn more about TICA visit http://www.tica.org. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheInternationalCatAssociation. Twitter: @TICAcats.

Learn more about Holiday Hazards here: http://www.tica.org/public/health/holiday.pdf.

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