The Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are over 86 million Cats living in American homes. Obviously, Cat owners do their best to keep their furry friends safe all year round, but around Christmas, changes in environment and additions to home decor pose special challenges. The holiday season can be a stressful enough time without unplanned trips to the vet, so it is important to know what new items brought into the home may be harmful. Here are 5 items to be especially cautious of as Christmas approaches:


According to Pamela Perry, DVM, of Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine, Christmas trees can be one of the most dangerous items brought into a home for the holidays.

With cats being natural climbers, trees are often seen as a new challenge to climb -- and unfortunately knock over. Perry recommends properly anchoring trees to neighboring walls, regardless of height, to keep cats from causing damage or injuring themselves. It is also important to ensure that only fresh water is used to maintain a real tree, with "no chemicals added."


During the year cats may not see many cords, as they are usually neatly tucked safely away from curious paws. However, with new Christmas decor comes strings of holiday lights and, often, extension cords running along the floor.

These can be seen as fascinating, new playthings for cats who may pull down decorations, or worse, chew through the casing to the wires. Heavy plastic protectors can be purchased at hardware stores that make the cords inaccessible to your cat (and reduce tripping hazards for your holiday guests, as well).


Tinsel may make your holiday shiny and bright, but it is proof that all that glitters isn't gold -- not only is it a choking hazard, it can be lodged in a cat's digestive tract causing major blockages that require expensive surgery.

All it takes is a single piece of tinsel to cause intestinal perforations, so this is one decoration to leave at the store. According to Dr. Perry, "It's very life-threatening."


Some people may find that bows and ribbon curls make gifts look more appealing.

Like Tinsel, ribbon can pose a major choking hazard for cats who spend time under the Christmas tree. Keep an eye on the litter box, if you have a feeling your cat may have ingested some ribbon, it is possible it may pass (and should be very evident in their stool). Otherwise, you may have a trip to the vet on your hands.


It should go without saying, but keep your cat away from your liquor cabinet. More importantly, watch for spills during your holiday dinner parties. Given the size and weight of a cat, the smallest amount of alcohol spilled on the floor (or crumbs from that rum-soaked fruitcake) can cause alcohol poisoning or even death. If you are expecting to have an especially messy party, it may be best to keep your cat tucked away in a room of its own, with enough food, water, and litter to get through the evening.

Your cat may have a better time alone anyway.

As for one holiday decorating staple that may actually be safer for your cat than most people think? Poinsettias. For years, pet owners have avoided the red flowers of the poinsettia plant, fearing it was fatal to animals. However, the ASPCA believes it is "generally over-rated in toxicity" and should only cause a mild irritation of vomiting in cats.

With a little extra attention -- and useful information -- it can be easy to keep your cat safe throughout the busy month of December. Happy Holidays!