Are Christmas trees poisonous to cats?
Although the most common Christmas trees, such as real pine or fir trees, aren’t toxic to cats should your four-legged pal simply brush past it – if your kitty should eat pine needles, sap, drink the water or chew on the branches you may find yourself in hot water.
Cat behaviour expert Marilyn Krieger of CCBC told Petcha, "Pine needles can be ingested and puncture intestines, and pine is highly toxic to cats, potentially causing liver damage and death. Additionally, the water that cut trees are placed into is toxic. It usually contains pine resin, preservatives and fire retardants.”
What if my cat eats my artificial Christmas tree?
Marilyn went on to say that artificial trees are generally safer, but if chewed on the plastic leaves can cause intestinal blockage.
Signs of poisoning
The first signs of pine Christmas tree poisoning in cats include lethargic behaviour and digestive issues, vomiting and diarrhoea. These symptoms arise if you cat has ingested pine needles, which can cause intestinal blockage or puncture.
If your real Christmas tree has been sprayed with fertilisers and chemicals poisoning symptoms in cats can include changes in hunger, thirst and frequency or urination, discolouration of the gums, digestive stress, muscle weakness, drooling and unusual breathing. If you cat exhibits any of these symptoms, it is recommended that you see a vet immediately.
Christmas tree oils can also be irritating to a cats mouth and stomach, causing excessive drooling or vomiting if ingested.
Other holiday plants that are poisonous to cats
Mistletoe and holly are also poisonous to cats, so be cautious in putting up the mistletoe is reachable areas. And unfortunately for any plant and cat lovers, poinsettia flowers are also mildly poisonous to cats if ingested. Again, it is recommended to call your vet should your cat eat any of these plants.
How do cats react to Christmas trees?
Decorating your Christmas tree might be a little tricker if you have a feline friend. They may be very enticed by the tinsel, shiny baubles or twinkly lights, so it is best to try to keep them out of reach while decorating. Cats tend to love Christmas trees, but unfortunately, Christmas trees don't love them back and can be very hazardous to their health.
Are Christmas decorations safe cats?
While the actual tree itself is more dangerous to a cat, the Christmas decorations can be a bit of a hazard, especially for a kitten. Sparkling lights, baubles and tinsel is heaven to a cat. The string from baubles can do serious damaged if ingested.
If you have a kitten, there's a very good chance they will attempt to climb your tree, causing it to fall over. Although unlikely, it could get trapped under the tree.
How to cat-proof your Christmas tree
But that doesn't mean you can miss out on all the fun of having a Christmas tree. Here are our top tips for cat-proofing your tree!
1. Investing in a faux Christmas tree with in-built lights and soft greenery to reduce the damage the tree can do to your cat. Here's the best artificial Christmas trees to buy this year!
2. If you have a real tree and the base has water in it, use a cover or tree skirt so your cat doesn’t have access to the water source, which can have adverse affects on your cat if drunk.
3. Consider using an anti-scratch spray to deter your cat from pawing at the tree.
4. Keep your tree away from launching zones, such as tables, chairs and other places your cat usually climbs, and wrapping the tree base in foil or popping a sheet beneath it, as cats supposedly don’t like the feel of foil on their paws.
5. Give your tree a good wash with the hose outside and let it dry off before bringing it in.
While there are risks to having a real Christmas tree in your home, there are very few risks to having an artificial tree inside, besides your cat chewing on the branches and pulling it over.
Dr Leonie Richards, Head of General Practice at the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Veterinary Hospital writes that “a serious mishap is as unlikely as walking in on Christmas morning to find Santa stuck in the chimney. You can never say never, but it’s not as high on the cards as just a mess.”
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