Monday, November 19, 2012

On the First Day of Christmas, my True Love Gave to Me – a Cat in a Christmas Tree: Helping your Cat avoid the Emergency Room this Holiday (pt. 1):




While most people enjoy the holiday season of friends, family, feasting and frivolity, your cat may not feel the same way. The holidays are a time when we are busier than usual, so our cats may be bored and looking for excitement. In addition, we bring lots of new fun (and hazardous) toys into the house. What a perfect opportunity for your cat to get into some mischief!

Here are some of the top holiday items that cats love to play with (but shouldn’t!):

Ribbons
Cats love to play with ribbons and tinsel, but they can be devastating if swallowed, knotting up and clogging the intestinal tract. Tinsel, especially the loose "icicle" type, should be avoided if you have cats in your household.
Any ribbon-play should be supervised. Make sure that all package-wrapping materials are put away where the cat cannot access them when you are done wrapping. Once the packages are wrapped, make sure the cat is not nibbling at the ribbons and bows under the tree, or wherever the presents are displayed.
If you notice a string or ribbon hanging out of your cat’s mouth or rear end, do not attempt to pull it out. If the string is knotted up inside, tugging on it can cause devastating trauma to the intestinal tract. Seek a veterinarian’s care immediately if you suspect your cat has swallowed a length of ribbon, string or tinsel.
Signs that your cat may have been “Naughty” instead of “Nice” include vomiting, especially multiple times in a row, or unproductive vomiting, lethargy, depression, fever, poor appetite or refusal of food, or a tense or painful abdomen (vocalization when picked up, sitting in unusual positions, hiding).

Ornaments

Fragile ornaments, especially those made of glass, may be broken and ingested, as can the ribbon, hooks or wire holding the ornaments on the tree. If you have a young cat, it is best to put a tree up first, before decorating it. If the kitten shows any inclination to climb the tree, you may want to minimize how many family heirlooms you hang on it! Also, you may want to stabilize the tree by attaching a guide wire to the wall so that the cat doesn’t knock it over. If it is possible to keep your tree behind closed doors, all the better, but many cats do begin to ignore the tree after they have thoroughly investigated it. Hang the most non-breakable and “boring” ornaments at the bottom of the tree where they are in the cat’s line of sight, and the most interesting ones where the cat is less likely to see them. Ornaments that move on their own should be avoided, unless your cat is uninterested in the tree as they are more tempting than regular ornaments.

Liquid Potpourri

Liquid potpourri can be toxic to the liver as well as causing burns if heated. Additionally, the cationic detergent in liquid potpourri is a corrosive substance and can cause severe chemical burns to the skin or eyes. Part of the concern about liquid potpourri is that it is an oily substance that is not easy to remove quickly and will remain on the skin and hair coat, continuing to cause damage as you try to remove it. Cats that have skin contact with liquid potpourri should be immediately bathed in mild liquid dishwashing soap, with special attention paid to the area between the toes since they may have walked in the potpourri. It should be assumed that if the cat has potpourri on its skin, it has probably tried to groom itself and will likely have eaten some, which is a much more critical problem. Liquid potpourri can cause severe ulceration of the mouth, tongue and esophagus, some of which may not become apparent until several hours after exposure. Cats that have been affected with liquid potpourri should see a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Candles

Candle flames are hypnotizing to cats and look like great toys to a cat. Make sure they are placed in areas where the cat cannot play with them and burn a paw, singe off all its eyebrow whiskers, or knock them over and start a fire. For those with extra-curious cats, a battery-operated candle may be a better option.

Cords


Electric light cords may also be tempting to cats but can cause serious burns in the mouth if chewed. Keeping cords hidden and out of reach will help. “Bitter Apple” is a spray that is available at most pet stores that has a bitter taste to discourage your cat from chewing on cords. You can also wrap dangling cords with bubble wrap or double-sided tape to discourage chewing. Cords can also be a strangulation hazard.
Walk around your house with your cat in mind, and remove possible hazards from temptation. Make sure to take a few extra moments each day and spend some time with your cat. Keeping your cat feeling like he is still the center of the universe will help prevent boredom and the need to find new things to play with. The holidays are a busy time, but a few extra moments’ consideration can save you and your cat from a devastating situation.