Just like that, Christmas is upon us once more. While you’re baking Christmas cookies and trimming the tree, don’t forget about your furry friend. Make this your cat’s ‘most wonderful time of the year’ by remembering that some of your Christmas decorations may be harmful to them. Let’s look into what popular Christmas plants could leave your kitty feeling anything by merry.
Commonly thought of as a poisonous plant, poinsettias actually aren’t too bad, as far as toxicity goes. Sure, if your kitty chooses to nibble a leaf or two, they’re not going to come out of it feeling 100%. But signs are usually self-limiting, meaning they don’t require medical attention. Poinsettia leaves contain chemicals called that can cause mild irritation to the lips and mouth, drooling, vomiting and rarely diarrhea. Eye irritation may also be seen if your cat gets really in the thick of it. Signs are typically self-limiting, so unless your kitty mowed down half of the plant, they’ll probably be okay.
Life Threatening Lilies
If you have kitties, just say no to that holiday arrangement containing lilies, including Amaryllis. Lillies contain a powerful toxin that can lead to acute kidney failure. Any part of a lily is potentially dangerous, including the leaves, pedals, pollen and even the water in the vase. If you suspect that your kitty even tasted part of a lily, see your veterinarian immediately.
Spiny leaves and spikes aside, holly also contains the toxins saponins, methylxanthines, and cyanogens. All of this can add up to severe digestive upset, including vomiting and diarrhea. You may also notice your kitty drooling, head shaking or lip smacking. While you would think that the pokiness of the leaves would deter kitties from eating it, they still may, so contact your veterinarian if you suspect as much.
The toxicity of mistletoe is mainly in the berries. That said, keeping the entire plant out of reach is your best bet. Mistletoe berries can cause mild digestive upset like drooling, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. If your kitty really gets after it, they may also experience a sudden drop in blood pressure, an abnormal heart rate, collapse, seizures and even death. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect that your cat may have munched on some mistletoe.
Even your Christmas tree isn’t completely off of the potentially poisonous list for your feline friend. While the decorations present the greatest risk, some varieties of trees can contain harmful toxins that can cause mild irritation to the mouth and digestive system. These signs are usually self-limiting though. Another risk would be if you’re trying to maintain the greenness of your tree by adding fertilizers or plant foods to the watering tray. Just assume that your cat will drink from the tray and only use pet-safe products. Finally, if your cat is choosing to play Tarzan on your tree, they’re always at risk of injury from falling or toppling the tree over onto themselves.
We all know that cats are curious creatures and Christmastime presents some of the most spectacular things to explore, taste, play with, etc. Keep your kitty safe by putting holiday plants out of reach or in off-limits rooms of your house, supervise your cat’s interactions with the Christmas tree until they’re no longer interested, and keep holiday leftovers out of their food dish. Another tip for this Christmas season, or all year long for that matter, would be to have the Pet Poison Helpline phone number handy along with the number of a great emergency vet.
So have a happy and safe holiday with your furry family!
Written by Chryle Bonk