Health & care

How to keep your cat safe at Christmas

Date updated: 07 05 2019

Christmas Cat


As with most things, cats have their own take on Christmas. Presents? I’ll take a look. Parties? Not so much. Trees? Bring it on for me to destroy.

Your buddy’s home is suddenly full of strange people and routine goes out the window. It also throws up some extra hazards that can be easy to overlook with so much going on. So with this in mind, here’s how to keep your buddy safe and happy…

Cats and Christmas trees: can they live together?
There’s no getting away from it: cats and Christmas trees aren’t exactly the ideal mix. Unless it’s a small kitten, your cat’s going to want to explore that exciting new ‘toy’ in the living room - and there’s not much you can do about it. That said, you can take some steps to keep your buddy safe…

  • Choose your decorations carefully. Don’t opt for baubles that can shatter, as these can lead to serious paw injuries - and even worse internal injuries if swallowed. Also, make sure all electric lighting wires are either completely out of the way or very well covered with special plastic pet-proof casing, as they can lead to electrocution if chewed.
  • Try and position your tree as far as possible from any furniture. This will prevent your buddy from launching themselves into the tree, and so will minimise the risk of it collapsing. It might be worth applying some extra weight to the base, and tying the top to the ceiling with string.

Tip: cats really don’t like the feel of tin foil on their paws, so consider wrapping foil around the base and bottom branches. It might just be enough to make them lose interest. Spraying a pet deterrent on the bottom branches can work, too (bitter apple is one of the best and kindest natural options). 

Should you choose an artificial or real tree?
Your buddy will probably be pretty interested in both, but on balance, artificial is best. For one thing, the scent of a real tree can make it much more intriguing than a plastic one.

More importantly, pine needles are mildly toxic to cats. Rarely will they try to swallow them, but the needles can cause irritation if they get stuck in the paw. If you do opt for real, make sure you vacuum up fallen needles frequently. 

Cat in Christmas Tree


Other Christmas decorations
Hanging decorations ‘out of reach’ is practically impossible if your cat’s a climber. For anything that you do hang up:

  • Make sure anything you hang up is as secure as possible (using twisty ties rather than having things hanging loosely).
  • Avoid dangling string, as this can be even more of an enticement than the actual decoration.
  • Consider a complete tinsel ban. If swallowed, it can get twisted up, leading to serious stomach injuries.

Cat-friendly Christmas parties
Even sociable cats can get spooked easily when the whole crew descends on their home.

1. Try and get your buddy in a calm frame of mind before everyone arrives. Give them a new toy to play with - a mini-workout combined with a mental challenge could be just what’s needed to burn off some of that pent-up energy and put them in the mood for taking it easy.

2. Next, set up a little chill-out zone. Include their bed, extra bedding and blankets and a selection of their favourite toys. Ideally, this will be their ‘base’ while the party’s going on. They might choose to leave it to come out and see what’s happening, but they always have the option of coming back to it if things get a little too hectic.

3. Make sure your buddy’s in their den when the first guests arrive. Once you’ve answered the door, pop back in to check they’re ok. If they seem distressed, try distracting them with one of the toys. Repeat as the next few guests arrive to show them that there’s really nothing to worry about.

Kitty Christmas treats
Christmas lunchtime will almost definitely spark your buddy’s curiosity. The challenge is to make sure they stay safe. Candles on and around the table can be risky - and scented ones can be especially appealing. If you have them on display, just make sure they’re not left unattended when lit.

If turkey is on the menu and it’s already an established part of their diet, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t enjoy a little of what you’re having. That said, trying to make Christmas special by giving your cat something completely new is a bad idea. A sudden diet change risks an upset stomach - and no-one wants to deal with that on Christmas Day. And if you’re giving out treats, just make sure they’re designed with cats in mind (chocolate is definitely off the menu).

Christmas for cats can be confusing, exciting and sometimes a bit scary. So remember; aside from spoiling your buddy with some new toys, one of the best presents you can give them is to try and keep their routine stays as “normal” as possible.