Halloween marks the beginning of the holiday season for us humans, but did you know that next to the 4th of July, this October holiday is the most dangerous time of year for our pets?
Toxic candies, ringing doorbells, front doors opening and closing for people in spooky costumes shouting “trick or treat,” pranksters, and dangerous decorations make Halloween a potentially very dangerous holiday to our beloved felines.
Many cats escape out that opening and closing door, ingest toxic candy, or devour small parts of decorations in their own homes.
Here are some things to watch out for and safety tips to guarantee your kitty stays out of danger–because nobody wants to end up in the animal hospital on Halloween night.
1. Beware Of Those Halloween Treats
Halloween candy is delightful for children, but most of it is highly toxic for cats.
If your cat consumes Halloween candy, it could lead to diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, an abnormal heartbeat, or death depending on the amount consumed.
Chocolate, sugar, and artificial sweeteners can all be toxic in high enough doses. Some candies can also be choking hazards. Keep them all out of reach or in sealed containers that your cat can’t open. Dispose of candy wrappers in a secure trash can, as these can cause choking or obstructions in the digestive tract.
Be sure to have the phone number for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center handy this time of year, and always know the location of your nearest 24 Hour Animal Emergency Clinic.
2. Halloween Noise Anxiety Can Be Dangerous
Many cats are afraid of loud noises, and their anxiety can get worse when the doorbell rings every few minutes for hours on end, like on Halloween.
You may not realize this, but loud music from a Halloween party and motion sensor Halloween decorations that shriek or howl at the slightest movement can also cause a lot of stress and anxiety cats, especially sensitive or shy cats.
Noise anxiety may cause your cat to exhibit behaviors like urinating or defecating outside the litter box and other destructive behavior. Some older cats can even have sound-induced seizures.
Make sure your cat is confined to a small, safe place in your home on Halloween night. Try to find a location as far from the noise and action as possible.
Another great way to keep stress levels down is to take a chair and sit outside your front door to hand out candy. That way, nobody will be ringing your doorbell.
Invite a few friends over and play some music. You’ll have a blast out front talking to your neighbors, enjoying the change in weather, and your cat will avoid the stress of Halloween all-together.
If you’re having a Halloween party, create a safe space for your cat in a room as far from the noise as possible. Shut the door and warn people not to enter the room. Lock the door if possible, and ask your guests to avoid that part of the house.
3. Opening And Closing Doors Make For Easy Escape
If you have a cat who likes to escape though open doors and windows, Halloween can be a very dangerous time. Many cats end up lost, in shelters, or injured on Halloween night because they run out the door when their humans are distracted or handing out candy.
This is another great reason to keep your cat confined to a safe area of your home, but it’s also important to make sure that your cat’s microchip information is up to date and that your cat is wearing ID tags if possible.
If your cat does escape, be sure you know what to do to find your lost cat as soon as possible.
4. Black Cat Owners Must Beware On And Around Halloween
Unfortunately, Halloween has also been a time when some people acquire pets — particularly cats — to use as living decorations or for displays of fun and sport, only to discard or abandon them afterwards (as often happens with chicks and rabbits at Easter time). Accordingly, many animal shelters have taken steps in recent years to limit or eliminate the adoption of cats in the days leading up to Halloween by either deferring feline adoptions until after Halloween or by more carefully scrutinizing the prospective adopters.
Some people also believe Satanic cults use black cats as sacrifices in their rituals. It’s impossible to know exactly how widespread these problems are, but there’s no risk your cat’s safety, either. Owners of black cats should take precautions.
Halloween catnapping commences as early as late August and goes through the month of October. Many shelters and rescues halt black cat adoptions this time of year to protect the animals. Black cat owners should limit their kitties’ outdoor time, if they are allowed outside at all, to daylight hours and always supervise.
Some say that the rumors of feline abuse this time of year are blown out of proportion, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
5. Never Force Your Cat To Wear A Costume
It can be really tempting to dress up your cat in a Halloween costume, but a lot of cats just don’t like it. Before you dress up your cat, take a step back and think about your cat’s personality.
A shy, skittish cat will likely hate wearing a costume. An outgoing cat who’s been dressed up since they were a kitten might be fine with it. Just remember, don’t force your cat to wear a costume.
If they resist, let the idea ago. If they’re okay with it, make sure you don’t put on anything that restricts their ability to sense the world around them. Cats interact with their ears, whiskers, tails, paws, and nose, so make sure these aren’t covered up.
Never leave a costume on a cat or any other animal unattended. Remove the costume as soon as you are done taking your photos or video so the cat can get back to being a cat.
6. Guests Should Know How To Interact With Your Cat
Your guests, especially children, might not know the right way to interact with your cat. If you let your cat roam during a Halloween party, make sure you lay some ground rules for your guests.
Tell them not to give any candy or food to your cat. Teach any children who are visiting not to grab your cat, but to treat kitty with respect. Show them what your cat does or does not like.
If your cat is shy, ask your guests to leave your cat alone. And if your shy cat does approach them, tell your guests to just extend their hands slowly for a sniff. Many shy cats won’t want strangers to pet them.
It’s always best to secure your shy or more sensitive cat in a safe and isolated part of your home during a loud party.
7. Halloween Decorations Can Be Deadly
Finally, decorations pose a serious hazard to your cat, so take precautions.
Did you know that candles cause more than 9,000 home fires every year? Did you know that pets cause more than 500 home fires every year, mostly by turning on stoves or knocking over candles?
According to the National Fire Protection Agency:
These fires caused 86 deaths, 827 injuries and $374 million in direct property damage. Candles caused 3% of reported home fires, 3% of home fire deaths, 6% of home fire injuries, and 5% of the direct property damage from home fires during this period.
A lit jack-o-lantern or candle may be tempting for your cat to play with and poses a serious fire hazard if kitty knocks it over.
Many other Halloween decorations pose a serious threat to cats this time of year. Wires, glitter, strings, feathers–so many parts to these home decorations are just too tempting to a kitty. Even deflated balloons or candy wrappers can be dangerous if your cat ingests them.
You don’t want your cat eating something that might create an expensive trip to the vet or worse.
Halloween is fun for us humans, but dangers lurk all around for our kitties. Just be sure that you are educated and aware of what your cat is playing with and what your cat has access to.
If you notice your cat playing with something that is potentially dangerous, it’s better to get rid of that decoration. Also make sure your cat has plenty of toys of their own to play with to distract them from the Halloween stuff.
Will you help spread the word to keep cats safe this Halloween? Do you have any tips to protect your cat on this holiday? Let us know in the comments below!