Keeping cats safe over the festive period

Posted on 9 December, 2019

Christmas is a joyous time for everyone, including cats, who often enjoy having lots of extra people around to give them affection and treats. But it’s important to be mindful there are often hidden dangers at this time of year and some cats may feel overwhelmed with the sudden change in routine.

Here is our round up of the most common hazards to look out for over the festive season.

Stress and anxiety

Christmas is a busy time in most households, with lots of people coming and going. This can mean a stressful time for cats, particularly if they are nervous or don’t like strangers. Sometimes family and friends may even bring their pet along too and suddenly there is a strange dog in the home or another cat to deal with.Our advice is, know the limitations of your cat and if they are unlikely to welcome another pet in the house then ask friends/family not to bring theirs.

Also ensure your cat has a safe and peaceful place to go, such as a spare room where they can escape the noise and chaos of Christmas day. Ensure their bed; cat litter tray and water are in this area too, so they don’t have to contend with lots of people in the kitchen when they want to have a drink, sleep or go to the toilet. Ideally this should be set up a few days in advance of people arriving, so your cat knows where everything is.

Poisonous plants

Christmas plants can be a particular hazard to cats, as many are poisonous and can cause illness or even death. They are also something new for cats to potentially have an interest in, as they haven’t seen it before. So think very carefully before bringing a festive plant into the home and where it will be placed. If it’s in a room that will be closed off when not in use or you think your cat just won’t be bothered by a new plant, then it may be OK. But probably better to err on the side of caution and avoid these plants altogether. According to Cats Protections[i] the following plants are poisonous to cats:

  • Lilies (even small amounts of pollen) are very dangerous to cats – whether they are brushed against, licked or drink the water the flowers are kept in. All lilies are poisonous including Easter lily, tiger lily or Oriental lilies
  • Poinsettia plants can cause stomach irritation
  • Berries from mistletoe and holly can cause poisoning if ingested
  • Amaryllis plants can be toxic to cats
  • Dumb cane or leopard lily (Deiffenbachia) can cause mouth irritation

It’s important if you think your cat has eaten any poisonous plants to contact your vet urgently.

Christmas trees and decorations

Christmas trees can look like great fun to a cat and many may think you’ve just been very generous in giving them a new toy to climb! Also, sparkly Christmas decorations that dangle off the tree can be very tempting for cats to play with. So it’s important to keep an eye on your cat to ensure they don’t start messing with the tree. Also make sure they are not eating pine needles, if you have a real tree, or other decorations.

The best way to protect your cat and your tree is to make sure you have a sturdy tree in a pot that won’t topple over and display decorations closer to the top of the tree, so there is less chance of them playing with them. Be careful with the decorations you choose too and don’t have glass baubles that could smash and cut paws.

Also chocolate is poisonous for cats, just like it is for dogs, so steer away from putting chocolate decorations on the tree, just in case they fancy a quick nibble. Finally switch off Christmas lights when you go to bed and ideally make sure the cat doesn’t have access to the room with the tree, just in case they get up to any nighttime shenanigans and try to climb it!

Leaving your cat over Christmas

If you plan to go away for a few days over Christmas, then make sure your cat is looked after and don’t just have a neighbour pop in and feed them. Cats are social creatures and whilst they will be OK for a day or two, any longer and they may start to fret. Plus if something happens to them you won’t know until you return.

One option for people who want to avoid putting their cat in a cattery is using a home and cat sitter. This is someone who will come and stay in your home and look after your cat, as well as keep the home safe and secure. Christmas can be an opportune time for burglaries, so it’s a good option at this time of year.

Home and cat sitters look after your cat (and any other pets you may have), sticking to their usual routine and giving your cat plenty of human companionship while you are away. Most cats prefer this to a cattery as they are in their home environment.

Remember that Christmas and New Year is a very busy time for home and pet sitters, so if you plan to book one it’s best to get this scheduled in sooner rather than later.

To book your homesitter contact Homesitters who have a network of dedicated and caring professionals throughout the UK available to care for your cat.


[1] https://www.cats.org.uk/help-and-advice/home-and-environment/cats-at-christmas

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