How To Decorate For Christmas With Cats?

Celebrate the holiday with your pets, but keep it safe!

If you find yourself browsing the aisles of your local pet store picking up goodies for your favorite fur person’s Christmas stocking, you’re not alone. According to a survey conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association, 86 percent of respondents include their pets in holiday celebrations and a whopping 97 percent of them celebrate Christmas. Eighty percent give their companions special treats, 75 percent hang a Christmas stocking, 72 percent give wrapped gifts to and from their pets, 58 percent take photos of or with their pets and 37 percent send a greeting card to or from their pets (70 percent, in general, have signed their pets’ names on greeting cards).

As much as we want to include our pets in holiday festivities, the extra noise and confusion can be stressful for them. If you’re having a house full of guests, sequester them in a quiet room to avoid untimely escapes and accidents – a freaked out cat running across the buffet table is not a pretty sight, nor is a dog who begs for bites from guests’ dinner plates.

Keep ribbon, string, and wrapping material in a safe place – I know my cats are especially attracted to the curling ribbon. An emergency trip to the veterinarian is not what the holiday budget needs. Keep safety in mind when selecting holiday decorations. Electrical cords can be hazardous if your pet is a chewer, and tinsel and pine needles can be deadly if ingested. Secure the tree using an eyehook in the ceiling to prevent it from toppling. My husband tells the story of walking out into the living room one morning to meet his kitten eyeball to eyeball – looking out at him from the Christmas tree.

It’s also a good idea to use only unbreakable ornaments on the lower branches of your tree and, depending on the age and activity level of your pets, forego displaying your grandmother’s antique Santa collection.

The holiday plants, poinsettia, holly, and mistletoe, can also be hazardous, as is one of our own favorite food groups, chocolate.

Candlelight is lovely but can be disastrous around swishing tails and little paws. Do not leave burning candles unattended and think about foregoing them altogether if you’re pet is extra rambunctious or curious.

While giving a homeless pet a home for the holiday is a noble idea, it’s best to wait until after things have calmed down. In anticipation, however, give pet-related gifts, such as a bowl, toys, scratcher, litter box, collar, and leash, or a comfy bed. You may be able to pick out a dog or cat ahead of time and take possession after the holiday.

As an obsessive cat person, I’m often asked what my cats are getting for Christmas. My answer? Every day is Christmas for them.

Sally E. Bahnerhow to decorate for christmas with cats

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