This time of year, a lot of us are preparing our homes for the holidays, while still making plans that will leave our furry family members alone at home. As a pet sitter arriving to a home that is freshly decorated to provide care for a pet, I am scanning for potential hazards or remnants after I say hi to my furry friends. Read on to learn some considerations to prepare your home for a pet sitter’s arrival.
The potential hazards of course depend on your furry family members, and what peaks their curiosity. When I was growing up and we had real fresh cut trees in our house my parents always secured the tree to the wall in some fashion or another. Most of the time it was string strung to a window or curtain hook. So when we first got Bagheera I was sure to tie and secure our little tree. Good thing too, as the tree appeared to his 8 month old self to be a great place to climb away from our dog, and a fun place to play. While the tree never fell over, the top of the tree did break from his weight. Trees can pose a number of hazards to our kitty friends. If you have playful cats you want to be mindful of the needles that can fall from the tree, real or fake, and the items you are placing on the tree. Tinsel comes to mind as a cat attractant, as well as other shimmery, or moving objects. My tree is known to have a bell or two on it somewhere as well. If you use these types of items on your tree you can do so strategically and place them higher up where they will be less enticing to our cats. The ornaments that may be fun for your cat to play with, you can also tie to your tree as opposed to using the common ornament hooks.You can also secure the tree in a room with doors, and close those doors securely with all animals closed out of the room before departing your home. If your cat decides to be a climber and test their abilities you can try some deterrents placed at the base of the tree. An easy one to start with would be aluminum foil. You could also build a blockade with packages (non-food ones), or a fence. They sell, and you can also read online homemade deterrent sprays. Sometimes offering a happy alternative, such as their very own fun cat tree to scratch and climb on could be a great positive training option as well. If you are unsuccessful in keeping kitty out of the tree, and you will be traveling for more than a day, it is best to prepare your home for a pet sitter by packing the tree away.
Speaking of packing and trees, we must mention our canine friends and their wonderful noses. If you like to place packages under the tree as they are received or wrapped, knowing if they contain something that smells delicious to your dog can save you some heartache and possibly a vet visit. There are some dogs that like to chew, no mater the material, so be mindful of your dogs behaviors, and plan accordingly. Likewise the wrapping accessories can be enticing to kitties. Our cat loves to play with curling ribbon and nibble on it. All of which can lead to an entanglement or choking hazard.
Pets can also ingest other items used as decorations. Fake food, cinnamon sticks, potpourri, water used to support candles or plants, as well as the plants themselves. Some of these are less common, unless you have a pet that likes to chew on lots of things. But it is easy for a cat to drink water from the tree or vases that are positioned about. Tree water can contain bacteria that may make them sick. Plant or candle water may contain substances that could also poison your cats. There are several flowers and holiday plants that are known to be poisonous to dogs and cats as well, so do your research. Have a safe place for your pet sitter to tuck them away until you arrive home.
Keep in mind when you prepare your home for a pet sitter that plants and packages may arrive while you are away. Plan for the arrival of flowers during the holidays by preparing a safe place in your garage, bathroom, or other room where a door can secure these items away from your pets. This is a great idea for packages as well. While well intentioned, many friends and family members do not consider the safety of your pets when having gifts delivered to your home. So let the pet sitter know of a safe spot for these items to be placed out of paws reach.
These are a few of our tips to share with you in preparing your home for a pet sitter, and to keep your pets safer during the holiday season. We would love for you to share any stories of mischievous pets during the holidays, or any tips you may have for other holiday items that may endanger our pets. Be prepared for the unexpected, or unplanned by taking our Pet First Aid and CPCR class!