Alternatives To Common Holiday Pet Hazards

Keep Pets Top Of Mind Before You Start Decorating For The Holidays

Throughout the years, we’ve written many articles about the common household pet dangers during the holiday. In this post, we’d like to offer some practical alternatives to help you start thinking about how to pet proof your home, and still have your festive decorations and other festivities.

The holiday season seems to start earlier and earlier each year. Once Halloween is in the rearview mirror, many people start thinking about the holiday season and preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas. To help you prepare for the holiday season check out our list of hazards and some  alternatives.  Before you go shopping for all sorts of holiday decorations this year, keep your pet top of mind so that you avoid any unintended consequences that are commonly seen during the holiday season.

Danger: Snow Globes

Why are snow globes dangerous to cats?

Snow globes are filled with a toxic chemical called ethylene glycol, which is the main ingredient in antifreeze. Ethylene glycol and antifreeze are sweet tasting and highly attractive to pets. Unfortunately, it is also extremely toxic and most often deadly when ingested, even in very small amounts. Read Charlie’s Story


Alternatives to Snow Globes

When considering alternatives to snow globes, think of flameless candles! Several years ago we had an accident with a real candle when my cat jumped on a table and accidently knocked the candle over and started a small fire. Thankfully we were there the moment it happened so we were able to put the fire out quickly. Never ever leave a real candle unattended if you have pets.

Consider the following:

  • Waterless (no liquid) snow globes are out there, but they can be difficult to find. Consider a flameless or electric lantern that blows “snow” with air. Do NOT trust any snow globe with any liquid in it. Chemicals used to keep it from freezing may not be disclosed.
  • Flameless candles –  These are a staple in our home. They are beautiful, made of real wax and twinkle like a traditional candle does. Many of them come with remotes and timers as well.
  • Candle Warmers – This candle warmer is awesome. It’s the exact model I bought after our real candle accident. It has lasted for years. If you have scented candles, it diffuses the scent beautifully.


Danger: Christmas Trees

While not all real Christmas trees are toxic to cats, Pine Christmas trees can cause liver damage and even death; they are definitely toxic to cats. Christmas trees are always tricky when you’re a cat owner. An artificial Christmas tree is usually a better choice if you have pets. While Spruce Christmas trees are not toxic to cats it’s crucial that you are diligent in picking up any and all fallen needles that shed from the trees. Tree needles could damage your pet’s internal organs if they are ingested. Additionally, it’s important to keep your tree stand covered at all times because if the water is ingested by your pet, it could contain harmful bacteria or other harmful pathogens.


Alternatives to Christmas Trees

Here are some ideas to get you thinking about how to keep your cats away from the tree. I did see some sisal and jute Christmas tree collars that were really beautiful – but those will only attract your cat to the tree more – and we’re trying to prevent that here.

  • Tree collars can help keep your cat away from the water reservoir.
  • Tree fences can help keep curious cats away from the tree altogether, but be sure that the fence isn’t a hazard in and of itself. Many cats can jump fences and small cats and kittens could get caught – so consider your own situation before purchasing – the same way you would baby-proof your home.
  • Christmas Cat Scratching Post/Tree – you could forget the tree altogether and just get one that your cat enjoys.
  • Tree Covers, when placed over a water reservoir, can help keep your cat away from the water.


Danger: Poinsettias, Holly & Mistletoe

These popular holiday plants can cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and drooling if your cat ingests them. Poinsettias milky white sap contains chemicals called diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponin-like detergents that are responsible for the negative reactions. If cats ingest large amounts of holly and mistletoe, they may experience more severe reactions including drops in blood pressure and heart rate, seizures, breathing problems and death.

Alternatives to Poinsettias, Mistletoe and Holly

If you’re in love with the traditional plants of Christmas, be sure to opt to the fake varieties. More expensive ones can look really real and will last for years if you take care of them by dusting and storing away from heat and sunlight.


Danger: Tinsel & Glass Ornaments

Tinsel is often used to mimic icicles on Christmas wreaths and trees. The shiny plastic or metallic tree decoration is as appealing to us as it is to our cats. Tinsel is difficult for cats to chew and doesn’t break down in their intestinal tract if the tinsel strands are ingested. If ingested, cats can choke on the tinsel, and the ingested tinsel will likely need to be surgically removed.

Ornaments are a Christmas tradition, but to our cats, they look like dangling toys.  Cat-proof your Christmas decorations by using ornaments that are not made of glass or any other breakable object.


  • Red bows for your tree
  • Shatterproof ornaments


Alternatives to Poinsettias, Mistletoe and Holly

If you’re in love with the traditional plants of Christmas, be sure to opt to the fake varieties. More expensive ones can look really real and will last for years if you take care of them by dusting and storing away from heat and sunlight.

Danger: Wires

Cats can become curious with wires and it’s particularly dangerous if they are playing or chewing on them. If a cat chews on an electrical cord, it can cause electrical shock and oral burns. To keep your pet safe, try using cord organizers or electrical cord covers to make the wires less accessible and visible to your cat.

Emergency Vet Helpline

If you cat ends up getting into trouble – don’t wait. Today, it’s easier than ever to talk to a vet online 24 hours a day, 365 days a year through vet help services like Vetster. If you’re not sure if you’re facing an emergency, give one of these services a call and tell them what the situation is and they can help you determine if you need to take your cat to the emergency vet.

Remember – online vets can only guide you based upon how descriptive you are about your pet’s situation. They cannot prescribe meds or do any tests over the phone/chat/computer… so use your common sense here. If you know your pet is ill or injured, skip the vet chat and take them immediately to your local emergency vet.


Have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season!



If you enjoyed reading about the holiday safety tips for pets and some practical alternatives, you might also enjoy reading about how pets help people cope with loneliness during the holidays or some holiday deals for cat and their humans.