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Looking a Lot Like Christmas

Peek-a-boo Kitty at Christmas
Peek-a-boo Kitty at Christmas

'Tis the season to deck the halls, but do it carefully - make sure your holiday decorations don't pose unnecessary risks for your furry friends!


It really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially at our house. This is the weekend when we get out the tree, the lights, the ornaments – and make our pets wonder at all the interesting shiny and glittery decorations. They can hardly wait to investigate.

Because we have cats, we have to be especially careful where and how we set up our tree. We put it in a room with a door that we can close when we are not at home, to make sure they do not have unsupervised access.

We also use fishing line to attach the top of the tree to a nail in the wall, to prevent the tree and ornaments from toppling should an adventurous cat decide to climb it before we can stop him (or her).

We are careful to run electrical wires and extension cords under the tree skirt, to reduce a pet’s temptation to chew on them. A friend recently confided that he runs his electrical cords through PVC pipe to hide them from his dog.

Our Christmas tree is artificial, so we don’t have to be concerned about keeping water in the tree stand which could contain chemicals that might make a pet sick if it decides to take a quick drink.

Over the years, we have learned to hang fragile ornaments high on the tree, and sturdier, less breakable ornaments on the lower branches. Long ago we gave up using tinsel or angel hair, which can cause major digestive problems if eaten.

We also don’t use ribbon on wrapped gifts under the tree, another digestive hazard for curious pets. And we don’t bring in mistletoe, holly or poinsettias – those can all be poisonous for your furry friends, especially the berries. The last thing we want for Christmas is an emergency trip to the veterinarian’s office.

I really enjoy all the sparkle and glitter of Christmas decorations. I like the way they can transform my ordinary home into a magical landscape – but that’s a seasonal thing. My pets are there with me all year long. That’s why it’s worth it to me to take precautions, to make sure my Christmas decorations do not put at risk the animals that share my home and my life, when I’m speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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