Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas presents pose cat hazards

Lucy the cat munching on Christmas presents

Christmastime can be a time of danger for cats. Those brown paper packages tied up with string seem a heck of a lot like toys to curious cats, and they can quickly eat large pieces of that string during the course of one play session.

Cats who eat string can face some fairly serious health problems. Strings can get wrapped around teeth, and that bit of tissue can span the length of a cat's body from stem to stern, slicing up everything it touches. String can also wrap around organs, and cats that try to pull on those bits as they emerge could end up slicing their organs in half.

When I worked in the veterinary emergency clinic, I saw several cats that died due to string. And I saw plenty of owners forced to shell out thousands on life-saving surgeries for cats that ate presents.

It's bad, right? Thankfully, it's a problem you can solve.

I keep all wrapping paper and string in a plastic bin, deep down in the basement. I wrap up my presents behind a closed door, and when I'm done, I put all the packaging bits back in that bin for storage.

All of those presents I wrapped? They go in their own bin in the storage space. I'd love to display them, but it isn't safe.

During frantic unwrapping moments, I keep a brown paper bag on hand. All of the ribbons and paper goes into that bag as it comes off of presents. And that bag goes outside for disposal as soon as the fun is done.

If you follow these steps, your pets will be safe from Christmas wrapping woes. But, if something goes wrong and you know your cat ate string, call your local emergency veterinarian. You have no idea what that string is attached to and while you wait or pull. An emergency professional can provide advice that could save your kitty a significant amount of pain.

Have a safe holiday, everyone!