My husband and I bought our first house several years ago and our closing day fell on a beautiful, crisp Thursday in December. The morning we got possession of our new home, all of our belongings were still in transit, so we brought only the essentials: a suitcase, an air mattress, and our cat, Anya.

We excitedly entered the empty house to see that the previous owners had left us a beautiful, bright red poinsettia and a very kind, handwritten welcome note.

However, poinsettias are toxic to pets, so what started out as a thoughtful gesture turned into an intense day-and-a-half battle between the only object in the entire house and the bored housecat who was determined to destroy her target. Finally, our furniture was delivered, and we found a high enough perch to display her forbidden snack out of reach!

That was just the start of holiday hazards for Anya that year. We retired our mini, apartment-sized Christmas tree and bought only the best and biggest that the Canadian Tire clearance section had to offer. Like most cats, Anya thought it was her personal playground.

Unfortunately for Anya, lights and ornaments are a choking hazard and, like anything stringy, tinsel can do extra damage to a pet’s digestive tract if ingested. Whenever a pet swallows something it shouldn’t, like tinsel, an ornament, toy, bone, or even sharp pine needles from a real tree, it is important to seek veterinary attention immediately.

Christmas trees are also notoriously tippy, especially when curious kitties climb them. This is not safe for others in the household, especially if there are candles nearby, but a cat can also be injured simply from falling from that height. Trees can be secured with sturdy bases and reinforced by tying a piece of fishing wire to a hook in the ceiling.

There are other risks to our furry family members that aren’t unique to the holidays, but are seasonal dangers as well, such as antifreeze poisoning. Another danger is pancreatitis brought on from fatty table scraps, which are common during winter celebrations.

We’re now much more prepared with Anya around the holidays and make sure to provide her with lots of safe treats and toys to enjoy. As members of the family, we want to include our pets in every major milestone and tradition, but an emergency visit to the vet isn’t on anyone’s holiday wishlist!

Dr. I. Wonder is here to answer your questions regarding your furry family members. If you have a question, email it to us at  Our team at Neighbourhood Pet Clinic will tap into their collective experience to answer your various questions.