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12 Holiday Safety Tips for Cats

An orange tabby cat with holiday lights.
An orange tabby cat with holiday lights. Photography by Casey Elise Photography.
Last Updated on November 28, 2023 by Catster Editorial Team

The lyrics were first published in an 18th century book called Mirth Without Mischief, but if “The Twelve Days of Christmas” were rewritten by modern cats, the song would be “The Twelve Days of Nothing but Mischief.” Check out our kitty shenanigans version, along with 12 holiday safety tips for cats.

The 12 Holiday Safety Tips for Cats

1. On the first day of Christmas, my kitty gave to me … chewed up branches on the Christmas tree.

A gray cat hiding in a Christmas tree.
Cats and Christmas trees can be a dangerous combination. Photography © Kenneth Hunter| Alamy Stock Photo.

Live or fake, Christmas trees can ruin a cat’s holiday. A toppled tree can crush a cat, and natural needles can be toxic or puncture a cat’s stomach. The best bet for a merry Christmas is a fake tree in a room kitty doesn’t use.

2. On the second day of Christmas my kitty gave to me … two broken baubles under my feet.

Two cats with broken Christmas ornaments.
Plastic, non-breakable ornaments are a smarter decor choice if you have cats. Photography ©Tibanna | Thinkstock.

Step on a broken Christmas ornament, and you’ll be howling like an alley cat. Better to go with plastic, non-breakable decorations as your cat may mistake decorations for new cat toys — it is Christmas, after all.

3. On the third day of Christmas my kitty gave to me … three broken snowglobes full of antifreeze.

A gray cat tapping a snowglobe with a snowman inside.
What’s inside a snowglobe could be poisonous to cats. Photography © petographer | Alamy Stock Photo.

They’re seasonal and pretty, but a smashed or leaky snowglobe can poison cats, as some contain ethylene glycol. If your ideal Christmas vibe is more candy cane than Citizen Kane, keep these festive spheres away from curious cats.

4. On the fourth day of Christmas my kitty gave to me … four bitten birds.

An orange cat eating a plate of food.
Human foods like turkey can cause stomach upset — or worse — in cats. Photography © Murika | Thinkstock.

Turkey is the center of Christmas dinner, and it can be the epicenter of feline gastro distress. Turkey binges lead to Boxing Day diarrhea, and chewed-up bones can puncture a cat’s digestive system. A bite or two is fine, but don’t leave your cat alone with a family-sized platter of poultry

5. On the fifth day of Christmas my kitty gave to me … five colon strings.

Cats often see ribbons on gifts as exciting toys. Siberian cat and Christmas tree by Shutterstock
Cats often see ribbons on gifts as exciting toys. Photography by Lubava / Shutterstock.

Tinsel belongs on the Christmas tree, not in a cat’s butt. If you think your cat ate tinsel or any other sort of string — call the vet. It could be causing internal damage. Avoid the dreaded tinsel tail by ditching this dangerous decoration altogether.

6. On the sixth day of Christmas my kitty gave to me … six guests leaving.

A cat with a Santa hat on, sleeping.
The holidays can be stressful for cats, too! Photography by vvvita / Shutterstock.

Red looks festive on Christmas sweaters, but not when dripping from fresh cat scratches. If crowds make your party animal stressed, keep kitty off the guest list for everyone’s safety.

7. On the seventh day of Christmas my kitty gave to me … seven lights a-blinking.

A cat relaxing by the fireplace.
Be wary of holiday lights — and fireplaces. Photography by Monkey Business Photography / Shutterstock.

Strings of holiday lights make for an illuminating game of Russian roulette for chew-happy cats. If your lights start blinking when they’re not supposed to, check for teeth marks. Prevent your cat from getting zapped by hiding cords or choosing lower-voltage or rope-style lights.

8. On the eighth day of Christmas my kitty gave to me … an empty glass (and a case of gas).

A cat by a fireplace with cookies and a cupcake.
Human foods like cookies and sweets are also toxic to cats. Photography ©JasonOndreicka | Thinkstock.

Cookies and milk left out overnight can end up in kitty’s stomach if Santa isn’t quicker. Unfortunately, cats can’t digest sugar and dairy as well as Saint Nick. Maybe offer Santa water instead?

9. On the ninth day of Christmas my kitty gave to me … nine lives’ worth of worry.

A kitten hissing with his ears flattened back.
A kitten hissing with his ears flattened back. Photography ©Ornitolog82 | Thinkstock.

Seriously, Christmas with a cat is stressful!

Really struggling with the holiday blues? Here’s how to beat holiday depression WITHOUT medication >>

10. On the tenth day of Christmas my kitty gave to me … 10 unwrapped gifts.

A cat with a wrapped holiday gift.
Wrapping paper, bows and ribbons can mean issues for cats. Photography © Image Source | Alamy Stock Photo.

Wrapping paper is fun to scratch, but the bows and ribbons on a gift box can tie a kitty’s guts in a knot. It’s best to keep presents under wraps until the big day.

11. On the eleventh day of Christmas my kitty gave to me … 11 false flowers.

A cat with poinsettias.
Lilies, holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias are all toxic to cats. Photography ©JasonOndreicka | Thinkstock.

Some call them tacky, but plastic arrangements are a cat lover’s bouquet. Real Christmas lilies are deadly to cats, as are holly and mistletoe. Though not as dangerous, poinsettias can still ruin a kitty’s Christmas.

12. On the twelfth day of Christmas my kitty gave to me … 12 unplanned kittens.

A group of kittens.
A group of kittens. Photography by Cherry-Merry/Thinkstock.

That’s what an intact cat’s gonna give you. Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like a gift certificate for a spay or neuter!

It may seem like holiday celebrations and cats don’t mix, but as long as you take care to catproof your Christmas, there’s no better combination. Safe decorations and present precautions mean a Christmas morning spent playing with the cat toys Santa brought, instead of visiting the vet’s office.

Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer and mom to the Christmas tree wrecking crew known as Ghost Cat and Specter. You can follow their yuletide misadventures through the @ghostpets Instagram account. Mom is on Twitter, @HeatherMarcoux. All her Christmas ornaments are plastic.

This piece was originally published in 2017.

Thumbnail: Photography by Casey Elise Photography.

Editor’s note: Have you seen the new Catster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting area of your vet’s office? Click here to subscribe to Catster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home. 

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