Celebrate the holiday with your pets, but keep it safe

Cat expert Sally Bahner with Sofiya

If you find yourself browsing the aisles of your local pet store picking up goodies for your favorite fur person’s Christmas stocking, you’re not alone.

According a recent survey a whopping 92 percent of respondents include their pets in holiday celebrations.

Accordingly, 73 percent hang a Christmas stocking, and 92 percent give wrapped gifts to and from their pets. Gifts include cute outfits, comfy beds, extra treats and toys.

And photos with Santa are taken by 28 percent of respondents.

As much as we want to include our pets in holiday festivities, the extra noise and confusion can be stressful for them. If you’re having a house full of guests, sequester them in a quiet room to avoid untimely escapes and accidents – a freaked out cat running across the buffet table is not a pretty sight, nor is a dog who begs for bites from guests’ dinner plates.

Keep ribbon, string and wrapping material in a safe place – I know my cats are especially attracted to the curling ribbon. An emergency trip to the veterinarian is not what the holiday budget needs.

Keep safety in mind when selecting holiday decorations. Electrical cords can be hazardous if your pet is a chewer, and tinsel and pine needles can be deadly if ingested. Secure the tree using an eye hook in the ceiling to prevent it from toppling. My husband tells the story of walking out into the living room one morning to meet his kitten eyeball to eyeball – looking out at him from the Christmas tree.

It’s also a good idea to use only unbreakable ornaments on the lower branches of your tree and, depending on the age and activity level of your pets, forego displaying your grandmother’s antique Santa collection.

The holiday plants, poinsettia, holly and mistletoe, can also be hazardous, as is one of our own favorite food groups, chocolate.

While giving a homeless pet a home for the holiday is a noble idea, it’s best to wait until the after things have calmed down. In anticipation, however, give pet-related gifts, such as a bowl, toys, scratcher, litter box, collar and leash, or comfy bed. You may be able to pick out a dog or cat ahead of time and take possession after the holiday.

As an obsessive cat person, I’m often asked what my cats are getting for Christmas. My answer? Every day is Christmas for them.

During this season of giving, be sure to make a donation of food or money to a local shelter (most offer the convenience of donating online).

Cosgrove Animal Shelter:

749 E Main St.

Branford, CT 06405


Branford Compassion Club:

2037 Foxon Road

North Branford, CT 06471


Forgotten Felines:

153 Horse Hill Road

Westbrook, CT 06498


Connecticut Media Group