Kitten-Proofing Your Home for the Holidays

Kitten looking into fire
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Don't let your kitten get burned this holiday season. Make sure you set up a fire screen so he can't get into the fireplace and consider replacing tea lights and tapers with flameless candles.

I love the fall and winter holidays! The food, the decorations, the gathering of family. I just think there’s no happier time of year.

And if you’ve added a kitten to your family recently, you’re likely find there’s no more entertaining time of year. Kittens are always on the move, eager to investigate everything around them. Watching them stalk the wild shoelace or rise straight up into the air when startled by the twitch of your toes beneath a blanket is guaranteed to give you a healthy belly laugh.

But, the holidays can also be a dangerous time for kittens — not to mention for your holiday decor. Kittens can get into trouble when their curiosity leads them to steal food not meant for them, bat at candle flames, tug on twinkly tinsel or climb the Christmas tree. I’m here to share some tips to help ensure that you and your kitten have a safe and breakage-free holiday season.

Fire Hazards

Since ancient times, we’ve relied on fire to protect us from things that go bump in the night, and it’s just natural that flames flicker merrily at this time of year. From Thanksgiving through New Year's, we brighten our homes with candles, luminarias, menorahs, Christmas tree lights and Yule logs.

It’s normal for inquisitive kittens to be attracted by dancing flames and dangling electrical cords. But, they can easily singe their whiskers and tails, suffer burns if they get too close to an open flame, or sink those little teeth into an electrical cord.

To protect your kitten, consider replacing tapers and tea lights with flameless candles, at least until he’s a mature cat who has left his rambunctious ways behind him. Set up a fire screen so he can’t get to the fireplace, and place tough plastic covers over electrical cords so he can’t chew them. If that’s not an option, wrap cords tightly and position them so they don’t dangle enticingly.

Carving a roast turkey
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Treating your kitten to a few bites of turkey or roast beef is OK. But giving her too much rich holiday fare could lead to pancreatitis.

Foil Food Theft

No self-respecting kitten is going to pass up a chance to help you eat your roast beast. It’s OK to give him a bite or two of turkey or beef (remember, his stomach is a lot smaller than yours), but to protect your prize poultry from kitten predation, keep it, and all other fixings, well out of your kitten's reach until you’re ready to serve dinner. And while a nibble of meat won't hurt your feline, overindulgence in rich, fatty foods such as dressing and gravy can lead to a life-threatening case of pancreatitis.

That string you used to wrap the roast or ham? Your kitten will love chewing on and swallowing it, but it’s the kind of thing that can become what we veterinarians call a "linear foreign body," and it’s bad news. If your cat swallows it, he can suffer a partial or complete intestinal obstruction. Trust me, you don’t want your holidays disrupted by emergency kitten surgery, so don’t leave that string hanging around.

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