This post was originally written for Iheartcats, Ask A Vet column. You can see more from Iheartcats by clicking here.
When we think of Halloween, black cats are as much a part of the decorations as pumpkins and witches. But your house cat is not. Halloween is a fun and festive occasion, but there are parts of any holiday that cause stress and even risk to your cat.
Some of the Halloween traditions include parties and door traffic. We often have music or scary noises with candles or spooky decorations. So much is going on that a frightened cat could easily be overlooked.
Halloween decorations may pose a hazard to a curious cat. Orange and black string or tinsel that can be a part of the costumes and wall art can be a delightful attraction to a cat or kitten that becomes less delightful when swallowed where it can become a gastrointestinal foreign body. Empty candy bags and shopping bags can become a suffocation hazard when played with unattended. Cats can knock over candles creating a fire hazard. Other Halloween dangers can include glow sticks. Glow sticks are non-toxic, but the liquid tastes very foul and will cause excessive drooling which can be alarming. It is better to keep them out of an inquisitive cat’s reach too.
Cats instinctively fear things that are new and different so family members in disguise could be quite disarming to a cat. If you are celebrating the Halloween season with a party or offering Trick-Or-Treats, it is very wise to secure your cat in a safe room away from noise, traffic and lights. Make sure there is a sign on the door, PLEASE DO NOT LET THE CAT OUT. If you have trained your cat that his carrier is a safe place (and you should!), make sure the carrier is inside the safe room with the usual blanket inside. It should be away from windows. Covering it with a towel might also make it seem safer.
Cats can become frightened and slip through doorways and are lost in the dark. It is always a good idea to microchip every pet, even indoor only ones and be certain that you register the chip with the international database and keep your info current. Then, if your cat is found after the holiday, she can be scanned by rescues or vets and returned to you. Microchipped cats are over 20 times more likely to be gotten home than unidentified cats.1
Halloween is a festive time that ushers in the fall. Everyone enjoys the tricks and treats, but the spooks are not so fun for your cat. Take a moment to consider how this all seems to him and make some accommodations to keep him safe and happy.
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Journal of the American Veterinary Medical AssociationJuly 15, 2009, Vol. 235, No. 2, Pages 160-167, doi: 10.2460/javma.235.2.160