VCA McClave Animal Hospital

Keeping Cats Healthy Over the Holidays

By Nada Khalaf, DVM
Published: December 13, 2012

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At VCA McClave, we want to help you keeps your cats healthy over the holidays.

During the holiday season, it is easy to get caught up in shopping, decorating, entertaining and everything else, but those activities can be traumatic for cats, and your beautiful decorations may be deadly.

Here are some common-sense tips and precautions to help assure your cat’s safety, comfort and well-being amid the holiday stress. If you would like further advice about your cat’s specific situation, please contact us anytime.

  • Prepare for separation issues: When your holiday schedule means less time at home or actually going away, cats may suffer from feline separation anxiety. One common symptom is for the cat to urinate on your bed, but other reactions can include destructive behavior or digestive problems. To ease the stress of your absence, desensitize the cat with sensory cues. For example, play a radio that is set to soothing music and leave it on while you are away. If you are taking a trip, start packing a few days in advance so the cat will view your suitcase as routine. If you use a pet-sitter, try to have him or her there when you leave, making the transition less disorienting.
  • Decorate with your cat in mind: Cats are instinctively curious about bright, shiny things, which Christmas trees are often covered with, so hang any breakable ornaments out of kitty’s reach. Some cats also see the Christmas tree as a climbing perch. To prevent having it toppled, fasten your tree to the wall or ceiling with wire. One solution is to make a tree skirt with the adhesive pads that keep rugs from slipping. Since cats do not like sticky surfaces, that can discourage tree exploring. Citrus flavors (e.g., lemon peels) around the tree are also natural cat deterrents.
  • Avoid toxins and dangerous ingestibles: Some traditional holiday symbols are harmful to cats. Holly and live mistletoe are poisonous and potentially lethal, and poinsettias can cause feline nausea. Try silk or plastic ones instead. If you have a live Christmas tree, do not add fertilizer to the water in the tree stand in case your cat drinks from it. Also avoid using tinsel because it can cause a blockage of the cats’ intestines if swallowed. Thin ribbon or string poses similar threats. Many popular holiday treats can make cats sick, so be sure any chocolate, eggnog and rich snacks go only to your guests, not your pets. If your cat swallows something you suspect is dangerous, contact the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680, or online at
  • Be ready for winter weather hazards: For outdoor cats, beware of seasonal risks such as ice-melting sidewalk salt. It is very irritating to pets’ paws, and dangerous if ingested. Keep in mind that salt can be brought in on your shoes, so be mindful of sidewalk salt as it can also pose a threat to indoor cats. Automotive anti-freeze is sweet and attractive to cats, but highly toxic. Immediately clean up any that spills in your driveway or garage. In extremely cold weather, consider putting an outdoor-safe pet heating pad near your door. Here’s wishing you and your pets a safe, happy, healthy holiday!

Click on the Keeping Cats Healthy Over the Holidays link to download the article for printing.


Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

Find a VCA Specialty Care Animal Hospital near you:


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Emergency Care

Your emergency needs can be met right here at our hospital.
VCA McClave Animal Hospital provides 24 hour emergency veterinary care, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Emergency veterinarians, veterinary technicians and/or veterinary assistants are on staff 24 hours a day.

Please call us at 818-881-5102. We are located at 6950 Reseda Blvd. Reseda, CA 91335.

We provide the highest standard in veterinary emergency and critical care services. We are trained and equipped to perform a variety of emergency surgeries and procedures. We provide the highest standards of pain management. Emergency internal medicine consultations, including full diagnostics, are available.

Please call or come in immediately if you feel your pet is having an emergency or needs after-hours care.