Injuries to pets at Christmas (statistics)
My personal view is that there are far more accidents involving people than cats at Christmas because of the presence of the obligatory tree.
In fact, I am sure that the number of Christmas tree cat accidents pales into insignificance compared to the number of Christmas tree human accidents.
Apparently, in the US, dried Christmas trees cause 200 fires every year, killing 15 people and causing $13 million of property damage. I’d hazard a guess and state that human Christmas tree accidents are the biggest risk to cats at Christmas ;)! We call it collateral damage. Incidentally candles cause 12,000 fires annually causing 150 deaths and almost $400 million in property damage¹. It’s about people not cats, really.
But seriously, cats and particularly kittens, can get hurt by a Christmas tree despite it being unlikely. Some Christmas tree hazards are as follows (in order of severity):
- Electrocution from the cable supplying the Christmas tree lights. This would mean a cat chewing through the cable, which is possible. Some ideas to minimise this hazard might be:
- to use an extension from the socket to the base of the tree and then connect the lights at that point. This is because extension cable is thicker and better protected than Christmas tree wires, in my experience. If most of the exposed cable on the ground is cat proof then the tree should be safer.
- Turn off the lights and unplug them at night. Perhaps this should be done when not at home too or the cat should be prevented from entering the room although that would be harsh if it as the cat’s favorite room.
- use battery powered lights. These are very good nowadays and totally cat friendly because the voltage and amperage produced by batteries cannot harm a cat (or person).
- Tall real trees. I would have thought that the taller and more natural a tree the more likelihood there is of a cat climbing it. Therefore I offer these solutions:
- buy a small artificial tree! A lot of people don’t like small artificial trees, understandably.
- ensure that the tree is “planted” in a heavy base so that if a cat climbs it the tree remains upright.
- ensure any water at the base is covered unless you know it is safe.
- place the tree a good distance from any other high platform that a cat might jump to and then to the tree.
- place a cat repellant around the base of the tree. Cats don’t like certain smells. Personally, I would not do this. Why make Christmas less good for your cat? It is not fair.
- you can buy a cat repellant emits a sound that cats hate but which is inaudible to people. Just an idea (a poor one). I am not sure how effective they are. This is a page on making your own cat repellant. This could be placed near the tree facing outwards. My personal choice is don’t do it. Why upset a cat? Moth balls as a repellant are out. They kill cats.
- Low hanging decorations. On the premise that cats might like to play with low hanging tree decorations while on the ground, the low level decorations could be placed out of reach. When placing decorations on the tree it might be wise (but a bit of a shame) to ensure that a cat is not around to play with the decorations as he/she might get the impression that they are cat toys.
- Chocolate coin decorations – no.
- Catnip decorations – no!
- Dangly decorations – no.
I think those are the main Christmas tree culprits that could, rarely, hurt a cat. My personal choice is a small tree with battery powered lights and nothing else or no tree at all but I am a Scrooge-type when it comes to Christmas.
Read what Ruth aka Kattaddorra says about safety at Christmas. I have just discovered it on PoC. The message is “think cat” at Christmas. Here is Ruth’s poster:
Ref: (1) thepanjinjurylawyers.com
Battery lights in our window, pretty and cat friendly and safe 🙂
That’s really nice, Ruth. Battery lights are popular these days. Easier to use and safe.
Your brilliant article is a good timely reminder Michael, our cats safety must be paramount at Christmas as there are definately more hazards than the rest of the year.
We have a small artificial tree and we have battery lights in the window and they look just as nice.
I hate the thought of cats being yelled at for naturally wanting to climb real trees or play with the baubles, I just saw someone had written on facebook she’d put pepper round her tree and was smug because it kept her cat away! I feel sorry for her cat, people like that don’t think cats deserve a nice Christmas too.