Pets and Holidays

Posted 12.05.07

I like to promote pet adoption at all times of the year except one. The holidays are not the time to bring a new pet into your household. TV commercials of the child discovering a puppy under the Christmas tree make me cringe.

There is enough confusion and extra activity around the holidays without introducing a new pet. Wait, instead, until January, when, sadly, there may be some pets at the shelter turned in by families who couldn't cope with a cat who climbed the Christmas tree, or a dog who piddled on the rug every time he got excited.

However, if you adopted a new pet during the past year, here are some ways to handle his first holiday season.

Most important is to ensure your pet has been microchipped, has a collar, and license tag. Create a folder with information about your pet, the name, address, and phone member of the closest veterinarian as well as the one you use regularly, and a few recent photographs, taken from different angles.

Every pet should have a safe place to retreat when strangers arrive. Most trainers recommend that dogs be crate-trained. But this doesn't usually work for cats, who don't like to be confined. Instead, create a "safe room" for your cat, a place away from traffic containing a litter box, soft bedding, food, and water.

When I brought Terzo (Simon Teakettle III) home from the Humane Society a year ago, I created a space for him in my ensuite bathroom. He still retreats there, or to the adjoining bedroom, if he wants to get away from visiting children or workmen.

I keep this area off limits to guests, so Terzo knows he won't be disturbed there.

If you have a laundry room, this is an ideal spot for a cat. One friend put a cat/flap into the door to her laundry room so the cat can go in and out at will.

When your dog or cat is socializing with the family during the holidays, train him or her to stay away from the Christmas tree. If you think a cat can't be trained, see my article on how to train your cat at www.SimonTeakettle.com. Make sure they don't chew on ribbons, tinsel, or that shredded paper filler that is often used in gift boxes.

Keep chocolate covered and in a cabinet out of reach, as it can be fatal for dogs and cats, and be careful about other holiday food as well: plum pudding, fruitcake, and especially turkey bones.

All three Simon Teakettles enjoyed having a Christmas stocking. Put in some treats, a few things to play with, and don't forget homemade items. Just like children, pets often prefer something ordinary (a pipe-cleaner spider, a little cloth bag filled with catnip) to expensive toys.

Give your pet a bit of extra attention over the holidays, and don't forget to take photos!

(Read Terzo's blog and see his photographs at www.SimonTeakettle.com.

Barbara Floria Graham is the author of the 20th anniversary edition of Five Fast Steps to Better Writing and Mewsings/Musings. Her website: www.SimonTeakettle.com

Copyright © 2007 Barbara Floria Graham/Log Cabin Chronicles/12.07