Kitten with Christmas tree ornament

tips to cat-proof your home for the holidays

the holidays can be a hectic time in households everywhere. with extra guests, decorations and new items coming into the house, this time of year can also be very stressful for cats.

to avoid the further stress of an emergency visit to the veterinarian during the holidays, make sure you cat-proof your house this season. here, the most common holiday poisons that endanger cats:

believe it or not, poinsettias are barely poisonous to cats. as a veterinarian,  I have no problem bringing these into my feline-friendly house over the holidays. when accidentally ingested by your cat, it can result in mild, self-limiting vomiting or diarrhea.

the bigger danger? these holiday plants are a big no-no to bring into any house with cats:

· lilies: these include Japanese show, Oriental, Day, and Asiatic lilies, just to name a few. unfortunately, as few as two or three consumed petals or leaves can result in severe, life-threatening kidney failure. even the pollen and the water in the vase can be poisonous. with even a small amount ingested, an immediate trip to the veterinarian is necessary. treatment includes decontamination, intravenous fluids, and monitoring of the kidney values.

· mistletoe: while European mistletoe can be poisonous, American mistletoe rarely results in poisoning. that said, be safe and keep your mistletoe hung high out of reach from your cats. if accidentally ingested, it can result in mild, self-limiting vomiting.

· holly: this holiday plant has thick, waxy leaves with sharp spines on them. when ingested, it can cause vomiting or irritation of the mouth, esophagus or stomach. if a cat consumes a large amount, the thick leaves can potentially get stuck in the stomach. to be safe, keep this plant out of reach also.

liquid potpourri

if you’re enjoying holiday smells by using liquid potpourri (the type of potpourri that you melt or plug in), make sure it’s in a raised area out of the reach of cats. liquid potpourri contains toxic chemicals, and when accidentally ingested, can result in corrosive burns in the mouth, esophagus, and stomach. very rarely, liver problems may arise due to ingestion.


if you have a cat and are considering getting a Christmas tree, good luck. make sure to use cat-safe holiday decorations on your tree and more importantly, avoid tinsel completely! to a cat, this stringy decoration looks like a toy, and when ingested, can cause huge problems. while tinsel isn’t poisonous, it can wrap around the base of the tongue or anchor itself in the stomach. as the stomach and intestines contract, the stringy material acts like a saw and slices through the intestines. this can result in a life-threatening, costly bacterial infection in your cat. so, this season, avoid tinsel and anything stringy – like ribbon, yarn, and string – for your cat’s sake.

glowing jewelry or toys

during the holidays, glowing sticks and jewelry can be a fun toy for children to play with. but when accidentally chewed by a cat, the chemical released from the glow sticks or jewelry can cause mild poisoning. the chemical inside is dibutyl phthalate (DBP). signs of exposure to DBP in your cat include severe drooling, foaming at the mouth, retching, gagging and vomiting. if DBP gets on your cat’s fur, bathe him quickly before he grooms himself! next, offer something tasty to drink (e.g., milk, canned tuna water, etc.) to flush the taste out of the mouth. no need to rush to a veterinarian with this one, as the signs typically are self-limiting once you’ve flushed it out.

now, go and cat-proof your house to keep your cat safe this season! when in doubt, it’s always safer and less expensive to seek treatment at once. if you think your cat has been poisoned, immediately call your veterinarian, emergency veterinarian, or ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 for life-saving advice.