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Decorating your home for Christmas gets your whole family in the festive spirit, but it's important to be aware of plants that are dangerous for cats.
It's hard to resist decking the halls with the stunning live plants that are plentiful at this time of year. Unfortunately, some of the most popular Christmas flora are harmful and even poisonous for cats. Avoid these common Christmas plants to ensure a safe festive time for your cat.
It seems that no Christmas table is complete without a beautiful poinsettia with its dark leaves and velvety red petals. This plant has received a bad rap over the years as being a highly toxic plant for cats, but it's not as dangerous as others, says PetMD. Poinsettias aren't life-threatening, but they may give your cat a stomach ache or diarrhoea, if they ingest or lick the plant. Display the plant out of your cat's reach (if there is such a place in your home!) or choose a faux option that can bring your Christmas display to life without threatening your cat.
Pine trees are toxic for cats, notes Petcha, because they may cause liver damage and can be fatal. If you wish to have a live tree, choose a fir or spruce. You should regularly dispose of any stray needles–no matter the tree type–because they're sharp and may be dangerous to your cat’s internal organs. Cover the tree stand so your cat can't drink the water. As with artificial trees, other common hazards include your cat knocking the tree over or ingesting harmful decorations like tinsel, ribbons, string and beads. Cats can be very mischievous and see all the twinkling lights as opportunities to explore, and nothing is more enticing than the opportunity to climb a tree inside their home. It is always best to secure the tree to the floor to avoid your cat knocking it over and injuring themselves or others. As far as ornaments and other tree decorations go, make sure they are not so small that they can be ingested and try to avoid any that contain sharp objects. Try your best to tie your ornaments on the tree so that your cat is not tempted to try and take them off. Finally, make sure you unplug your lights when you're not around to help avoid your cat being accidentally electrocuted.
Mistletoe and Holly
If you're looking to hang mistletoe or holly in your doorway, you'll have to go for artificial plant route. PetMD warns, "Ingestion of small quantities of the leaves or berries may only cause stomach upset, however, larger exposures may result in cardiovascular compromise and may be life-threatening." So avoid mistletoe and holly completely. Even if the decorations look like they're out of reach of your cat, think again. Cats are nimble, curious little creatures, so they'll find a way to reach them.
The amaryllis is a desirable Christmas plant because it's fun to watch the bulb grow into a tall, majestic flower. However, it's a very toxic plant for cats (and dogs) due to the presence of the chemical lycorine. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, possible reactions include vomiting, diarrhoea, and tremors. Don't bring this plant into your home.
Familiarise yourself with other potentially harmful or toxic plants, suggests VCA Animal Hospitals. Lilies, for example, are extremely dangerous for cats and are often included in flower bouquets. If your cat ingests a toxic plant, contact a veterinarian immediately.
Fortunately, you can buy gorgeous artificial plants that will liven up your home just as beautifully as the real ones. Just be sure that decorations don't contain easily detachable small parts that your cat could swallow.
If you have a particularly investigative cat, find other ways to distract them from your Christmas décor, try a new scratching post or cat toy; provide a cat tree of their very own to climb, so they are not tempted to climb your tree.
By avoiding dangerous plants for cats you'll ensure that your cat enjoys a Happy Christmas, too!
Christine O'Brien is a writer, mom, former English professor, and long-time pet parent whose two Russian Blue cats rule the house. Her work also appears in Fit Pregnancy, What to Expect Word of Mom, and Care.com, where she writes about pets and family life. Find and follow her on Instagram and Twitter @brovelliobrien