Feline Fine Art,  Holidays,  Vet 101

Vet 101: Dangerous Holiday Treats

If you love cats, sharing makes us purrrr :-)
Naughty Odin

It’s the season for stuffing turkeys and ourselves with food, drink and more food. With all the holiday season entertaining, it’s tempting to treat our cats with a few extra treats. But what happens if a guest slips kitty some smoked salmon or other human nibbles or worse, what kitty hits the buffet table without your knowledge? Yes, that’s Odin (pictured above) into the rugelach pastries last year.

This week our vet Dr. Richard Goldstein answers that kind of question.

Q:We do a lot of holiday entertaining and last year our friendly cat Bella, a crowd pleaser, ate something from a cold cuts platter. She had diarrhea and we’d like to avoid a repeat performance. Are there some human party foods that are especially toxic? Is there something we could give preemptively, and if she does get tummy trouble, what’s the best way to soothe it? We don’t want to lock her up in another room. Happy holidays!

A:The holidays can be a very joyous time and a very stressful time, not only for us, but also for our cats. While it’s always important to kitty-proof our homes, it’s even more important at the holidays, especially with all of the holiday parties, as many more potential dangers and toxins may be present. Some of these dangers we may not even be aware of. Here’s a little food for thought for things to keep your eye on, especially if your kitty is the curious kind.

PLANTS: We all know to be careful with the poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe, which can all cause irritation to the mouth, or stomach upset if chewed. But recently, more lilies have cropped up at the holidays, which can be very toxic to the kidneys of our cats.

CHRISTMAS TREE: Those pine needles can cause stomach upset too. So can the water that’s in the bowl under the tree. And some artificial trees contain a sugar-based preservative that can also be toxic to cats. Lights, tinsel, packaging, styrofoam, decorations, even small batteries, can all be enticing to the curious cat.

FOODS: Any food can be a potential danger for cats. As we’ve discussed before, if their system is unaccustomed to eating a certain food that might seem harmless, it can cause stomach trouble. Overeating can also be a bad idea (for us AND our cats!) during the holidays, pay particular attention to keeping chocolate (especially baking chocolate), alcoholic beverages, salty snacks, nuts (especially macadamia nuts), and gums and candies containing xylitol out of your cat’s way.

The best way to treat a potential toxic problem during your holiday parties is PREVENTION and AVOIDANCE. There’s no magic bullet that you can give a cat preemptively to prevent stomach upset. While it may not be your first choice, keeping your kitty in a quiet room (perhaps with some Kenny G Christmas carols softly playing on the iPod) and away from the commotion and the potential dangers will keep everyone safer in the long run. Advise your guests that the cat is in the house, and to please be careful about not feeding the cat or dropping food (that will also make your cleanup job easier!). And, ALWAYS, keep your veterinarian’s phone number, and poison control’s number (aspca.org (888)426-4435) in a visible location. In the case of toxin ingestion, time is of the essence to ensure a safe resolution.

Here’s to a SAFE and HAPPY holiday season for all of our feline friends and their people!

cat-treats-unsafe Gris Gris is no stranger to begging treats.

Have a question for Dr. G.? Email it to the editor [email protected]


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