Like with any holiday, you can be sure of two things when it comes to your cat and Halloween:
#1. Your cat does not appreciate your noisy, candy-fueled celebrations
#2. Refer back to #1
Besides further confirming your cat’s belief that holidays are annoying and not focused enough on their needs, Halloween can be a real problem if you’re not careful. Here are the Top 10 Halloween dangers for cats you need to watch out for.
It’s always more dangerous for a cat to be outdoors rather than indoors, but this is especially true on Halloween, and even the days that proceed it, such as “Mischief Night.” Though there is some disagreement about how dangerous it is for a black cat on Halloween (some say the same for all-white cats), rest assured that cats are always less safe outside. Yes, there is hyperbole about whether cats are used in Halloween satanic rituals, but it’s a real concern and there have been reports of animals being abused on the holiday. Even without such cruelty, there are plenty of risks for outdoor cats on Halloween.
The streets will be busier than usual, possibly scaring your outdoor cat and causing them to run to places they ordinarily wouldn’t, like into a busy road. And more drunk drivers spill onto roadways in the days leading up to and following Halloween and other holidays.
Long story short, keep your kitty inside.
Cats are pretty good at finding their own toys, but the toys they find usually aren’t good for them. Case in point: candy wrappers. They make sound, they’re shiny, they’re easy to bat around, and some cats just like to chew on plastic or cellophane. This might look cute, but if swallowed a candy wrapper can easily become a costly and very dangerous digestive obstruction in a cat’s stomach or intestines. Dispose of candy wrappers quickly in sealed trash containers. Watch for the signs that your cat may have ingested something bad, such as vomiting or straining to defecate (but always make sure that the straining isn’t actually a potentially lethal urethral obstruction).
If there isn’t chocolate in your home on Halloween, you or your children are probably doing something wrong. (I mean, come on — if you’re not inhaling chocolate by the pound on Halloween, when are you?). And while many people are aware of the danger chocolate poses to dogs, the same danger for cats is less publicized. Granted, cats are less likely to chow down on a Hershey’s, but the theobromine in chocolate is toxic for cats just as it is for dogs. For instance, did you know that as little as 1 ounce of dark chocolate is enough to require veterinary care for a 10-pound cat? Check out the APSCA’s poison control app to use their chocolate toxicity calculator. And keep the chocolate locked away from your cat this Halloween.
Whether part of a costume, for decoration, or for a wicked Halloween rave, glow sticks and glow jewelry are as dangerous to cats as they are alluring. The dibutyl phthalate contained inside isn’t very toxic in low doses, but can be irritating to the skin and eyes. This is made worse when cats groom themselves to remove the liquid, causing symptoms like drooling, gagging, and retching, according to the Pet Poison Helpline. In fact, the Helpline received 80 calls in just one year about pets who had punctured a glow stick or glow jewelry and 70% of those calls were about cats.
If you’re a popular stop on your neighborhood’s trick-or-treating route, your door is going to be blowing up on Halloween night. The constant knocking, doorbell ringing, and parade of strangers can really stress out a cat, which can lead to hiding, reduced appetite, digestive upset, or even aggression. It’s best to sequester your cat in a back room of the home where the commotion won’t bother them.
As mentioned above, your door is probably going to be opening and closing quite a bit. Not only does this create many opportunities for your cat to run into the night, but the door itself can be dangerous. It’s far too easy for a paw, tail, or ear to accidentally get caught and pinched in a closing door. Best to keep your cat separated from the front door until the action calms down. In case they do manage to escape through an open door, read “Lost Cat: How to Prevent It and What to Do If Your Cat Goes Missing.”
Cats often explore new things with their mouths, and that includes your Halloween decorations. A curious or bored cat will happily nibble on fake spider webs, Halloween garlands, and other decorations. While not that toxic to cats, any of these common Halloween items can obstruct your cat’s digestive tract, which requires costly and invasive surgery to remove the linear foreign body obstruction.
Do you see Halloween as an excuse to fill your home with a cacophony of flashing lights, ghoulish sounds, and other electronic decorations? If so, keep the cords covered or tucked away where your cat can’t get them. Chewing on electric cords can result in burns to a cat’s tongue and mouth and possibly a buildup of fluid in their lungs. A bad enough electric shock can easily put your cat in the hospital for several days where they’ll rack up a few thousand dollars in vet bills.
Candles and Flames
Hate to break it to ya, but your conjuring ritual probably isn’t going to summon any actual spirits. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, go ahead and ditch the real candles (the dark lord won’t be insulted). Cats can easily brush against the open flame of a candle, resulting in severe and painful burns and possibly even lighting your home on fire. If you want to set the mood for your Halloween séance, keep the candles flameless and opt for the LED variety instead.
If you decide to dress up your cat for Halloween, don’t leave them unattended in their costume. The tie-strings and dangling parts of some pet costumes can easily get snagged, possibly choking your cat in the process or at the very least causing distress. Though unlikely, choking can happen. Besides, it’s a safe bet that your cat doesn’t want to be in their Wonder Woman costume any longer than they have to be. And if you're thinking about painting or dyeing your cat's fur, find out how to do so safely.