holiday cats

How to Have a Safe and Cat-Friendly Holiday Season

Holiday decorations are a big part of the season’s celebrations in many households. But those decorations can often cause problems with our pets. Let’s take a look at how we can manage three common holiday items while keeping our cats safe. 


Christmas trees can be excellent playgrounds for cats. From your cat’s perspective, trees are new and exciting. Not only are there new smells to investigate and fun toys (i.e. ornaments) to play with, a tree also provides safe spots to hide and be off the ground. But we usually don’t want our cats in the tree. Aside from causing mayhem and damage to the decorations, trees can also be a safety issue for cats. Chewing on branches or drinking from water reservoirs can cause digestive problems.

To deter your cat from climbing your tree, you’ll want to start by giving them an appropriate alternative. Set up a cat tree or shelving near the tree so they have a better place to feel safe above ground level. You can also block access to the tree trunk and water by surrounding the tree with covered cat beds or empty, wrapped boxes. Make the tree less tempting to play with by keeping ornaments and lights on higher branches.

Providing alternative enrichment is also important to keep our cats out of trouble. If you give your cat one new thing to do or explore each day, they might not have the energy left to cause a ruckus in your Christmas tree. Think about rotating toys, providing new scents like catnip or silvervine, using puzzle feeders, and daily interactive play sessions.

If these measures are not enough to keep your cat out of the tree, you may need to block access. Depending on your home’s layout, you could keep decorations on high shelves that your cat can’t reach, set up pet gates, or concentrate decorations in one room where you can close the door when you’re not home.


String-like objects are fun for cats to play with, but can cause serious problems if ingested. While wrapping presents or decorating the tree, keep ribbons, string, and tinsel out of your cat’s reach. Cats can become entangled when left unsupervised. If ingested, strings can become entangled in the intestinal tract. 

Ribbons and string make great toys for cats – just make sure to supervise them carefully and take it away if it looks like they might swallow some. 


Live plants are often part of holiday homeyness, but common holiday plants can range from mildly to severely toxic to cats. Poinsettia, holly, mistletoe, pine, and lilies have varying levels of toxicity. If you have live plants in your home, be sure to know how they might affect your pets if ingested. You can learn more about their toxicity from the Pet Poison Helpline website, and always contact your veterinarian if you suspect your cat has ingested any plants.

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