When it comes to tinsel, cats are especially drawn to long, thin, single-stranded, shiny, and silver kinds. Not only do cats love to play with the strands, they also tend to accidentally pick it up while licking their fur. If swallowed, tinsel can be very very dangerous. Since cats tend to swallow them whole instead of chewing them up into pieces, they can cause a linear foreign body. This occurs when one end of the tinsel gets stuck in the stomach, and the rest gets stuck in the intestines. The intestine eventually gets bunched up on the tinsel which can eventually cause an intestinal obstruction. Symptoms of this include lethargy, loss of appetite, and may include vomiting. If enough is eaten, the tinsel may even cut through the intestinal wall. This can also lead to a severe infection. To avoid this, owners should use rope tinsel instead.
Strings of Christmas lights are also dangerous for cats. If the cat is able to chew through the light strands, they can electrocute themselves. This would result in them having difficulties breathing and can cause burns in their mouths. If this occurs, the owner should bring the pet to the veterinarian’s office immediately for evaluation. To avoid this, owners should tape down extra wires and cover them with either covers or piping. They should also always turn off lights when no one is in the room with the tree.