Hanukkah Menorah

For eight nights each winter, lighting the Hanukkah menorah brings the whole family together — and that includes the cat. But remember that tradition dictates the candles remain lit for at least half an hour after lighting them. So if you and your family step away to open gifts, that might leave your feline alone with the burning candles, and that's an easy ticket to the veterinarian’s office.

The U.S. Fire Administration says that more fires caused by candles occur in December than any other month. Since we know that no cat wants to spend the holidays with a burned paw, singed tail or worse, we talked with Battalion Chief Jennifer Utz of the Baltimore County Fire Department about what you can do to protect cats from Hanukkah candle accidents.

“If a cat jumps up onto a counter where a menorah is lit, they’re inclined to knock them over,” she says. “And dogs, too. Company’s over at the house; they’re getting excited. They have a tendency to knock them over, too.”

Here are her tips for protecting your cat from Hanukkah candles:

  • If you’re using a live flame, be sure your menorah is set on a good, stable surface that your cat can’t get to.
  • Crate-training your feline is a great way to keep him contained and away from open candle flames during your celebration.
  • Never leave lit candles unattended, especially with pets in the home. Place your menorah at least 12 inches from flammable materials so it can’t be knocked into curtains or drapes by the swat of a cat’s paw.
  • Make sure the candles of your menorah have burned down completely before you go to bed so nocturnal kitties can’t cause trouble if they roam the house at night. More than half of fire deaths attributed to candle use occur between midnight and 6 a.m., Utz says.

As a pet owner herself, Utz knows how important it is to keep animals safe during holiday celebrations. Her rescued Labrador-Sheltie mix, K.C., has always found great security in her crate — and Utz finds great security in knowing that her dog is safe and can be located easily if a fire does occur.

For more information on holiday hazards for your pets and tips for keeping them safe this winter, check out the links below:

Protect Your Pet From These 6 Winter Hazards
How to Keep Pets Safe From Cold-Weather Dangers
Is Your Pet Overindulging This Season? Watch Out for Pancreatitis in Dogs
8 Holiday Pet-Proofing Tips From Dr. Patty Khuly