Are Christmas Trees Toxic to Cats?

are christmas trees toxic to cats

Christmas trees are a delight to many, but they can also be dangerous to cats. The sharp needles of fir, pine and spruce trees can irritate a cat’s mouth and stomach, leading to excessive drooling and vomiting, reports The Spruce Pets. They can also cause gastrointestinal tract blockages and perforations. Poinsetta flowers, mistletoe and poinsettia plants can also be toxic to pets if ingested.

Similarly, the oil in fir and pine tree needles can trigger respiratory distress in animals that chew or swallow them. The pointy ends of the needles can also pierce the intestinal wall, causing blockages or perforations that require surgery to resolve. While a rash, diarrhea or breathing difficulties are common signs of tree needle ingestion, cats can become lethargic and develop more serious symptoms like abdominal pain, muscle weakness and drooling that requires immediate veterinary attention.

Artificial trees are a safer option for cats, as they don’t shed needles. However, they may still entice curious kitties to climb and play with them. To prevent your cat from climbing the tree, you can tether it to the ceiling or wall using weights or create a sturdy base by placing the tree on one or more stable pieces of furniture. A heavy base is also a good idea to reduce the likelihood that your tree will tip over when it is in use, especially if you place gifts or other items under it.

Another way to make your tree safer is to purchase a non-drop live or artificial tree, as they won’t shed needles as easily as traditional varieties. You can also spritz your tree with a citrus scent or scatter lemon or orange peels around the base to deter your cat from going near it. Placing foil around the base is another deterrent, as most cats don’t like how it feels under their feet or the sound it makes when they walk on it.

Decorations can be even more hazardous to your cat than the tree and its needles, as they can entice them to investigate by providing a network of dimly lit hiding places. Glass ornaments are particularly dangerous, as they can shatter and cut your four-legged friend’s paws. They can also pose choking hazards, as well as lacerations to the mouth and esophagus if chewed. Tinsel and garlands are also hazardous, as they can lead to gastrointestinal tract obstructions if eaten.

When putting up your tree, introduce your cat to it by letting them sniff and touch it before assembling it. Afterwards, keep it clear of presents and other distractions so they don’t pique their interest and risk falling or pulling down the tree. Finally, you can use a spray bottle to spritz your cat with water if they are obsessed with the tree; most cats don’t take kindly to being sprayed with water, so this can be an effective deterrent.

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