Cat & Kitten
Holiday Safety for Cats
I have a playful 8-week-old kitten, and I'm nervous about putting up a Christmas tree. How can I prevent or discourage it from playing with the ornaments, chewing on presents and/or climbing and toppling over the tree? Maria in Utah
Dear Maria in Utah,
You are right in your concern because the holidays can be a very dangerous time for our feline friends. I have put together some notes that may help you in having a 'cat-safe' Christmas. Here they are:
Getting the Tree Ready
Keep kitty out of the Christmas tree room if at all possible. Naturally inquisitive as they are, cats will explore, climb, smell the tree and in doing so may knock it over. One way to prevent this is to securely anchor the tree to its base. You may also want to secure the top of the tree by tying a rope to it and attaching it to the ceiling/wall or to another sturdy table. Screw a large hook into a wall/wood ceiling member (sheet rock will not do it here), then tie the tree. Also, cover the Christmas tree water with a hard plastic/metal container. The water, which contains all sorts of chemicals from the tree can be very harmful (fatal) to your cat.
Plants, especially holiday plants can be hazardous to cats. The following popular holiday plants are dangerous to cats: amaryllis, azalea, bird-of-paradise, cactus, Christmas rose, crown of thorns, calla lilly, caladium, clematis, common box, daffodil, dieffenbachia, dumbcane, foxglove, holly, hydrangea, iris, lily of the valley, mistletoe, morning glory, nettle, philodendron, privet, umbrella plant, wisteria, yews.
Decorations/Ornaments & Lights
Lamp crystals, and Christmas tree decorations (bulbs and tinsel) are enticing to kitties and dangerous as well. All those hanging mobiles, chimes may be too much for even the best behaving kitty to resist. Make them unreachable or place a barrier/confinement to avoid disasters. If you cannot do this, please fasten them tightly with twist ties, the breakable ornaments can cause a lot of damage to kitty's mouth, intestinal tract and can be FATAL. It is better that you use solid brass or other metal ornaments that are sturdy enough for kitty's paws. Be careful also with the ornament hooks since these can puncture skin (do not leave any lying around). In addition, tinsel can obstruct your cat's intestines causing him/her cat to get quite ill. Icicles, yarn, ribbon, and angel hair can also get caught in kitty's mouth and suffocate him/her. Keep these types of decorations away from your friend, if not possible, spray these with cat & kitten repellent.
Because of all the dangerous stuff, Cat & Kitten repellent make a good investment this time of year. Spray it on your Christmas tree lights before you put them up. Also, tape the cords to the wall from the socket to the tree to avoid tempting poor kitty with tangling cords. Unplugging the lights when they are not in use will also help avoid various kinds of mishaps.
As Christmas trees begin to dry out, their pine needs fall off. Be sure kitty does not eat these needles as they too can puncture the intestines.
Candles and other open flames can spell disaster. Be sure that you keep these in a cat-safe room or that you place these in an unreachable space.
do not do it. Feeding kitty special foods during the holiday can upset his tummy and lead to intestinal problems. In addition, certain foods like candy and chocolate can be quite dangerous and sometimes fatally toxic to your cat (i.e., chocolate).
Other Winter Hazards
If yours is an outdoors kitty, be aware of antifreeze. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, which causes permanent kidney damage even in small quantities. (6 milliliters of antifreeze are fatal). The danger is that kitty will walk through an antifreeze puddle and may ingest it while it cleans its paws.
Christmas can and should be a special time for you, your family and kitty. Having a nice holiday is a matter of preparation. So prepare, friends. Let me know if you some tips you would like to add. Simba
Leaving A Cat Alone at Home
I travel about once a month for a week or more and my friends having been checking in on my 1-year-old Russian Blue kitten. One of my friends has volunteered to take her while I'm traveling. My kitten is usually VERY quiet and shy when I take her out of the house, and she is never been to my friends place. Is giving her to a friend for a couple of weeks too traumatizing? Or is it better than having her alone and have people visit? Papa-Art
If you are away for several continuous weeks, taking your Russian Blue to your friend's might not be a bad idea. If you do take her, make the transition as smooth as possible. Have your friend and kitten spend some quality time together in your home and in the new home with you there. Also, give your friend any blankets, toys or pillows that your little one uses. If your travel is intermittent (one week in and one week out), it might be better to have folks come and see her. Moves are difficult for kitties, and a once a week shift is probably not for the best. Simba
I have two 6 month old kittens. My roommate and I are going on vacation next week. I will not be home for 3 days. Our parents will be coming over our house twice a day to feed the kittens, in the morning and once in the evening. Is this OK? I am very nervous about leaving them home alone. On the other hand, when I have gone on vacation a few months ago I brought them to my parents' house and they did not act like themselves. They were scared because of the different environment. I feel by leaving them in their own home where they feel safe would be better than bringing them to a strange household. Is this true? Should I worry about leaving them? Christine
Your coverage plan sounds good. At 6 months and with each other they should be ok. The schedule you have is similar to being at work. It is natural to worry about your little ones. Despite all the arrangements you make, you will still worry, there's no cure for that. Be sure that you leave the kittens plenty of fresh water and toys to play with. Your Pal, Simba
We just received two kittens (1 male & 1 female,~8 weeks old) which are brother and sister (I did not have the heart to separate them). My concern is that since my husband and I both work all day, we did not want to leave them inside the house. We have a little shed beside the house with a kitty door and all accessories in it for them (heat lamp, rug on the floor, scratch post, food, litter box, kitty toys and lots of blankets/sleeping bags). This is where they eat, sleep at night and where they play all day while we are gone. When we return home from work we let them in the house for about and hour or so to play with them and give them water (we do not feed them in the house). Will they get sick from being exposed to the outside temperatures and then the inside temperatures. We want them to be outside cats but, I'm concerned because they are just kittens and I'm not sure if they can handle the cold. Pauline
How very wonderful you did not separate the family! Kudos. A quick reminder, that inside cats can live a much longer and healthier life than outside cats. If litter boxed trained and with nails clipped or pressed on, they can be indoor cats without problem. Check out some of Simba's Letters for some kitty keeping information.
As to your question, I think that there is some reason to be concerned about the cold temperatures. One thing you can do is walk/carry the kitties to their shed when you are done playing with them. Also, monitor the shed temperature closely, while they have a heat lamp (not a fire hazard?), etc., it can get quite cold depending on where you live. You also want to make sure that the kitties stay away from your and your husband's cars. Honk the engines in the morning before you leave (many kitties have been injured or killed after climbing onto the inside of a just-stilled warm engine). Keep me posted. Simba