During the holidays, I want to protect my cat. What are some safe alternatives to candles with wick, tinsel and real poinsettias?

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Following is a guideline of some of the most popular holiday plants, trees and decoration items, with a list of toxic and non-toxic ones.

• Holly leaves: You can safely use branches in wreaths and garlands. You can also use the leaf sprigs to trim candles, packages and napkins rings.
• Poinsettia: Contrary to opinion, this plant contains a very low level of toxicity, but it can cause some mouth irritation so do exercise caution and keep it out of the reach of your cat—but don’t worry needlessly.
• Christmas orchid: This plant shows up as potted plant or cut flowers. Sometimes the stems of individual blooms are kept in small glass or plastic water tubes and then displayed in wreaths or on the Christmas tree.
• Rosemary: Fragrant, edible herb used toadd textural contrast in wreaths and garlands or be used as a potted shrubfor Christmas decorations.
• Trees: Pine trees are completely non-toxic, but fir, although considered to be non –toxic, containsoil that may cause mild nausea or vomiting.
• Yew trees: An evergreen, this tree is sometimes used for at Christmas, but if a cat ingests any part of it, severe symptoms may result. The toxin in yew affects the cardiovascular system and can cause tremors, difficulty in breathing and even heart failure. If you suspect that your cat has ingested yew bark, needles or seeds, seek immediate treatment.
NOTE: If your cat is prone to chewing, intestinal blockage, from any tree or plant, can occur. If pesticides have been used, your cat could ingest them—so always ask the seller first.
• Amaryllis: We see this a lot at Christmas, but the flowers are poisonous to cats and cause gastrointestinal problems like vomiting and diarrhea; they can also have neurological effects and cause excessive salivating, tremors and anorexia. If you suspect that your cat has ingested amaryllis flowers, you should call your vet, or if the symptoms are severe, visit an emergency clinic.
• Holly berries: If your cat has ingested these berries, she may experience gastrointestinal distress and exhibit symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or both.

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