cats near fallen christmas tree.

The holidays bring coziness, cheer, joy…and potential hazards for any kitties who live in your home. The team at Shiloh Veterinary Hospital can help you prepare—whether you’re a first-time cat parent or a long-timer in need of a refresher. Our tips for how to decorate for Christmas with cats will show you which holiday decorates to steer clear of. 

5 Holiday Decorations to Avoid When You Have Cats at Home

1. Toxic Plants for Cats

Even though the holidays hit in the dead of winter, plants are popular during this time. You might be tempted to pick up a pretty poinsettia from the grocery store while you’re doing some holiday shopping. Or a festive amaryllis. 

Don’t do it. These plants can be toxic to cats—especially amaryllis. 

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of toxic holiday plants for cats: 

  • Poinsettia: Contains sap (and usually pesticides) that can irritate your cat’s esophagus and make her sick.
  • Amaryllis: Contains lycorine, a toxin that can make your kitty very sick.
  • Lilies: If a plant has “lily” in the name or comes from the Lilium or Hemerocallis genera, give it to a cat-free friend, as lilies are toxic to cats. 
  • Holly and mistletoe: The leaves and berries alike can be deadly to cats. 
  • Fir, spruce, and pine trees: AKA, Christmas trees! That’s right. Cats and Christmas trees don’t necessarily mix. These trees have needles that can be mildly toxic to cats.

Your best bet is to set up a fake Christmas tree and fake plants that look real. Or, stick to non-toxic plants for cats…like catnip. 

2. Essential Oils Toxic to Cats 

Some of the most seasonal-smelling essential oils are toxic to cats and should not be used in a kitty’s home. These include: 

  • Peppermint
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Pine
  • Wintergreen
  • Tea Tree
  • Birch 

Remember that many potpourri mixes contain these oils, too, so keep those away from your furry friends as well. 

3. Ribbons and Tinsel 

You might not use tinsel or ribbons to decorate your home during the holidays, but are they on the gifts Santa brought under the tree? Or wrapped around the bottle of wine your coworker gave you?

Keep a close eye on any tinsel, ribbon, or stringlike decorations or gift-wrapping accessories in your home. These objects are harmful because they look like toys—but they’re not. If eaten, the ribbon or tinsel can bunch up in your kitty’s intestines and cause a life-threatening blockage. It can even slice through vital organs, causing irreparable damage. 

So keep this holiday hazard far, far away from your beloved feline friend!

4. Salt-Dough Ornaments

Maybe your kids or grandkids brought salt dough ornaments home from school. These precious ornaments last forever, giving you fond memories for years to come. But they also contain, well, a ton of salt. 

And to your kitty’s nose, they smell just like treats

That’s why these ornaments are so hazardous to pets. Even small bites can cause salt poisoning, which can make your cat extremely sick—or worse. 

So hang those salt dough ornaments somewhere your kitty can’t reach. Or better yet, put them in a secure memory box where you can take them out to admire when Kitty isn’t around. 

5. Snow Globes

If you have cats, dogs, or toddlers, don’t put snow globes out as holiday decor. 

You know that mysterious liquid inside the globe? The one that allows the fake snow to gently drift down onto a holiday scene? 

That liquid can contain ethylene glycol, otherwise known as antifreeze. 

This is especially true for glass snow globes. So if you have an heirloom snow globe or any type of newer globe that’s made from glass, refrain from setting it out. Keep it locked away in a place your kitty can’t reach. Even a tiny amount of antifreeze can be too much for your kitty’s body. It’s not worth the risk. 

Reach out to the team at Shiloh Mobile Veterinary Hospital to learn more about how to safely decorate for Christmas with cats.