Holiday (and Cold Weather) Safety Tips Tips to Keep Your Cat Safe During the Spring and Summer Seasons:

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and all the celebrations are a time for family, friends, and fun. However, such celebrations can pose safety problems for your pet. A visit to the emergency room with your cat will not add to the joy of the season. The following are some tips to help you keep your furry family members safe and happy.

Protect All Black Cats: Did you know that animal shelters place all black cats in the back for protection, and that most rescue organizations do not allow black cat adoptions, during the Halloween season? Protect your black cats, or your neighborhood friendly black cats, from cruel hands during the Halloween season. Keep them indoors during October.

Keep it Brief with a Halloween Costume: Got a cute Halloween costume for your cat? If your cat is the nervous type, don't torture him by keeping it on him for too long.

Remember That Chocolate is Toxic: Chocolate is not for cats (or any pet). The less sweet the chocolate, the more toxic it can be. Make sure to keep all chocolate out of reach and remember that a shelf is not out of reach for cats. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, hyperactivity, and seizures. Get help immediatley (don't wait until the next morning) for a cat with these symptoms.

Do Not Give Holiday Leftovers: Keep the holiday leftovers away from your cat to avoid stomach upset. Poultry bones are especially dangerous.

Use Caution with Unattended Alcohol: Be cautious with unattended alcohol drinks that could make your cat sick if ingested.

Keep Christmas Tree Water Clean: Christmas tree water in the stand might contain dangerous fertilizer. Also, stagnant water is a breeding ground for bacteria. If you’re using a live tree, do not add chemical preservatives or Aspirin to the water. Put aluminum foil around the stand to keep your cat away from it.

Wrap or Tack Down Electric Cords: Tack down all exposed wiring so it’s not tempting. Wrap or shield electric cords that cannot be tacked down. Plastic tubing for this purpose can be bought at hardware stores.

Use Christmas Tree Lights Cautiously: Beware of the lights on your Christmas tree that may look like something to chew. Keeping lights off the lower branches may help avoid an accident.

Don't Use Tinsel: Tinsel is pretty on the tree, but not in your cat’s mouth so it may be best to keep the tinsel off the tree. Ingesting this can cause serious blockages requiring surgery.

Don't Use Angel Hair: Angel hair shouldn’t be used since it’s made of spun glass and can cause irritation on contact.

Use Safe Ornament Hooks: Ornament hooks that can snag an ear or tail shouldn’t be used. If swallowed, the hooks can lodge in the throat or intestines.

Secure Christmas Tree: Make sure your tree is secure, possibly even tied to a hook in the ceiling or wall. It might look like a fun place to play and hide for your curious cat.

Use Safe Ornaments: Check all ornaments for possible dangers such as small and sharp parts that can be ingested. Glass balls can break in your cat’s mouth. Use only safe ornaments that won’t shatter when they become your cat’s batting toy.

Use Caution with Tree Strands: Cranberry or popcorn strands around the tree can be very dangerous causing intestinal obstruction, or getting wrapped around your cat’s neck.

Beware of Poisonous Plants: As you receive your holiday floral arrangements, remove the poisonous flowers (go to for a list of poisonous plants). Lilies can cause kidney failure and death in cats, and poinsettias can cause vomiting and nausea so keep these plants out of the house. Why not try a silk floral arrangement instead?

Cut Off Shopping Bag Handles: Cut all of the handles off your shopping bags that your cat can reach so that he doesn’t get his neck or paw caught.

Use Candles Cautiously: If you like candles, try the kind that use batteries since the possibility of burns to your cat, or a fire when a candle is knocked over, is just not worth the risk.

Leave Cat Home: If you’re traveling over the holdiays, consider leaving your cat at home instead of taking him with you, or having him boarded. Your cat will appreciate being in his own environment with daily care from someone.

Check for Toy Hazards: Check out the toys your children and cats receive as gifts since small parts can be a choking hazard to cats (and your children!)

Use Caution with Household Chemicals: When cleaning your house before guests arrive be sure to keep household chemicals out of your cat’s reach.

Have a Safe Room: When entertaining with friends and family, give your cat a safe place to retreat where it’s calm and quiet with his own litter box, toys, beds, and food and water bowls.

Watch for Escapes: Be careful that no accidental escapes happen when your guests are entering and leaving. It may be best to put your cat in his safe area while guests are arriving. Just in case, make sure your cat has a collar with identification and/or a microchip.

No Guests' Pets: Ask your guests to leave their own pets at home. Your cat may not appreciate a visit from an unfamiliar dog or cat, and will just add to his stress.

No Ribbon: Remove the ribbons from all packages. Ribbons are extremely dangerous since they can cause strangulation, choking, or intestinal blockage. For your packages, bright paper will be just as attractive and much safer!

Don't Give a Cat as a Gift: Don't give a cat (or any pet) as a surprise gift. The holidays are not conducive to introduing a new cat into a home, and the recipient may not want a pet. If you know for certain that the person wants a cat, just give a card with a note that after the holidays you'll accompany your friend or family member to a shelter.

Skip the Potpourri: That pine scented potpourri may smell wonderful, but if ingested by your cat, it can cause vomiting, stomach upset, and possibly liver damage. In addition, liquid potpourri can cause severe burns in a cat’s mouth if it’s ingested.

Use Mistletoe Cautiously: Keep the mistletoe out of reach since it can cause serious health problems if ingested by your pet. Remember that hanging mistletoe will be even more attractive to your cat so make sure he can’t reach it if you're going to use it.

Take Time to Give Love: Take time out to love your cat during the busy holiday season. You'll both be more relaxed and you can enjoy your friends and family without guilt

Use Fireplace Cautiously: Cats love warm areas so use caution with your fireplace by using a protective screen to prevent your cat from being singed.

Warm Car Engine is a Danger: Honk your horn before starting your car on cold mornings. Cats are drawn to the warmth of an engine and can suffer injuries from the fan belt.

Use Caution with Clothes Dryer: Because cats are drawn to warmth, keep your clothes dryer closed between uses and check inside each time you use it

Give Shelter to Outdoor Cats: If you care for outdoor stray or feral cats, buy them a shelter (the smaller the better) and if electric is an option on your patio, deck, or porch, add a heated pad. You also can purchase a snuggle safe pad that stays warm for 12 hours after being heated in the microwave for just 5 minutes. Remember, cats can suffer form hypothermia and need winter shelter.

From everyone at SCOOP, have a safe and wonderful holiday!

Lillies: As spring approaches, lilies will become more common in households as potted plants, or in bouquets. Unfortunately, several types of lilies can be deadly to cats. Easter lily, tiger lily, rubrum, Japanese show lily, some species of daylily, and certain other members of the Liliaceae family can cause kidney failure in cats. Within only a few hours of ingestion of the plant material, the cat may vomit, become lethargic, or develop a lack of appetite. These signs continue and worsen as kidney damage progresses. Without prompt and proper treatment by a veterinarian, the cat will develop kidney failure in approximately 36-72 hours. All parts of these lilies are considered toxic to cats and consuming even small amounts can cause severe poisoning. If there is a lily in your home, there is always the chance that your cat could be accidentally exposed. See below for a list of safe plants.

Open windows: As the weather warms, many will open windows in their home. Do not open windows without screens. Cats do not always land on their feet and a steep fall can be fatal. 

Fleas: Multi-pet households need to know that cats can get fleas from dogs since dogs get walked outside and are more prone to catching them. Swift and minuscule, a flea can also jump off human clothes and latch onto your pet for months. With one flea producing about fifty eggs a day, the population multiplies quickly, spilling into the surrounding environment. Aside from causing irritation, fleas may also transmit fatal bacterial diseases, such as plague.

Flea Treatments: Consult with your vet for the best flea treatment. Some flea collars can cause seizures and be life threatening to your cat. Never use a flea treatment for your cat that is recommended for dogs.

Ticks: In the warmer months, ticks can be a big problem for cats, especially in suburban areas. Ticks come from deer and jump on cats’ ears or perineum -- the area around the anus where there’s no hair. Slower-moving and larger in size, ticks attach themselves to cats and feed off their blood, spreading serious illnesses, like Cytauxzoonosis or Lyme disease.

Mosquitoes: A mosquito bite can infect your cat with the West Nile Virus, but more commonly, with heartworms, which are parasites that lodge themselves in a cat’s lungs and heart and mature to up to six inches. It only takes one or two worms to get into the cat and cause a problem. Symptoms include haphazard vomiting, a slight wheezing, and even sudden death.

Allergies: Cats can develop allergies to air particles just as humans do. Allergens include pollen, grass, weeds, and even flea saliva. Cats sensitive to these irritants may itch and scratch severely, possibly causing hair loss and open sores that could lead to a bacterial infection.

Lawn and Garden Chemicals: If fertilizing your lawn, or using weed control chemicals, keep all pets off the lawn for at least 48 hours. These chemicals can be toxic and even fatal to your pets.

Antifreeze: Very small amounts of this plesant tasting substance can be lethal. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat. Thoroughly clean up any spills and store antifreeze in tightly closed containers. Automotive products such as gasoline, oil, and antifreeze should be stored in areas that are inaccessible to your pets. Propylene glycol is a safer form of antifreeze. Low Toxª brand antifreeze contains propylene glycol and is recommended to use in pet households. If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, contact your veterinarian immediately!

Poppourris: Pets are often exposed to liquid potpourri by direct ingestion from simmer pots or spills, or by rubbing against leaky bottles or simmer pots containing the potpourri, or from spilling the containers upon themselves. Oral exposure can result following grooming. Exposure of pets to some types of liquid potpourris can result in severe oral, dermal, and ocular damage.

Summer Heat: Heat prostration kills many pet cats each year. If your cat spends a lot of time outdoors, make sure that you provide a cool and shady spot with clean water for them to drink. Do not leave your pet in a car with the windows up since this can cause death in as little as ten minutes.

Swimming Pools: If possible, try to prohibit access to your pool, or cover it with a tight fitting cover that prevents access.

The following is a list of safe plants for your cat and pets.

African violet
Bean sprouts


Lemon balm
Lemon verbena
Minature Rose

Oat grass
Pea (not sweetpea)

Wheat-not wheat grass