Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Medical: Pet Safety for Chanukah

Welcome to today's stop at the Chanukah Blog Crawl! 


Pet Safety for Chanukah

There are a lot of articles and blog posts circulating right now about pet-proofing your home for Christmas. It got me to wondering: for those of us who observe a different holiday, is there any need for concern?

Turns out there are a few things folks can consider when preparing for the Festival of Lights.
Here are our Top Five Tips to Pet-Proof your home for Chanukah:

1.  Consider trading your Hanukkiah for an electric model

photo courtesy CarbonNYC on flickr
At least temporarily.

I love the warm glow of real candles and have a nice collection of hanukkiahs (the 9-branch Chanukah menorah). So for me, swapping out for the electric version is difficult. It feels like it violates the season. And technically, you should be using either oil or wax candles to honor the miracle of Chanukah.

But I now have three very active cats (two of them barely out of kittenhood). One of them in particular (that would be you, Faraday) does a passing impression of Tarzan, and the fire hazard is just too great.

So I'll be screwing in a new electric bulb each of the eight nights instead of lighting up all over the house.

When Ryker was alive, it wasn't such a big deal; he was a laid-back kind of a guy and just so long as I monitored him and the menorah while the candles were lit, all was well. And we'll get there with these guys as they mellow with age. But for the next few years, we'll probably err on the side of caution.

We did live on the wild side Saturday night and light the first candle, but there were 3 humans carefully monitoring the situation while 3 cats opened shredded their Chanukah toys.

2.  Holiday foods can be hazardous to your pet's health.

our latkes (regular, sweet & purple potatoes) before frying
One of the best things about Chanukah is the food. Loads of yummy, fried food.

The problem with these tasty treats is that their recipes often call for ingredients that are not good for cats and dogs.

Latkes are one such food item: they can contain onions and sometimes garlic or garlic powder. To learn more about the dangers of these foods to your pet, you can read our Medical Monday article on onions by clicking here.

And if you're curious about exactly what latkes are and why we eat them at this time of year, you're in luck! Tomorrow's stops on the Chanukah Crawl are for Tasty Tuesday, and you can read all about east coast vs. west coast latke-making at the blogs of @danapixie and Hey...It's Jet Here (see links to their blogs at the end of this post),

3.  Tinsel: it's not just for Christmas any more.

Chanukah is considered to be pretty kid-centric and as such, there are many sites that sell - yes - Chanukah garland.

Those metallic little dreidels and magen davids are just cat-nomming (and choking) size.

If you plan to decorate with tinselly garland, make sure it's out of reach of your four-legged tree-swingers, too.

4.  All that glitters is not gold...but it is nommy!

One of the most iconic traditions of Chanukah is the game Spin the Dreidel. You'll be able to read more about the dreidel itself - and the origins of the game - at Pumpkinpuddy's blog on Wednesday. For now, suffice it to say that the winner takes the gelt (Yiddish for money).

In 1920's America, the tradition of giving gelt took a delicious turn. Now, kids everywhere vie for shiny, foil-wrapped pieces of chocolatey goodness in the shape of coins. 

Unfortunately, chocolate is not good for kitties or puppies. And of course, shiny as they are, they can become pet magnets. The gelt strewn about my home in various candy dishes will probably get a boost - up out of the way of enterprising paws - this year.

5.  Kittens and puppies don't make good Chanukah gifts either.

photo courtesy exfordy on flickr
A fellow blogger posted last year about the sad trend that occurs at this time of year: giving kittens and puppies as Christmas gifts. I would imagine that trend pops up at Chanukah time, too.

Pets should never, ever EVER be an impulse purchase, and the person on the receiving end of such a gift really needs to be involved, as this involves not only the personality of the person receiving the pet but the personality of the animal itself. 

This is so important that the ASPCA recently instituted a program called Meet Your Match, which assesses the personalities of both person and cat and attempts to guide adopters into finding the perfect match for them.

That's it for my Top 5 for Chanukah-proofing your home. No matter what holiday you celebrate, may it be merry...and safe...this year.

Please join us for 8 nights of fun, inspiration and information during the Chanukah Blog Crawl.

There's a different host for each day. 
Click the badge above to see who's hosting each day of the Crawl.

If you'd like to follow along, click here to read yesterday's post on menorahs by Gromek the Cat To-ra.
There are two stops for the Crawl tomorrow! Meandering Moodys (@danapixie) and Hey... It's Jet Here.


  1. We wish you a merry and safe holiday too. Have a marvelous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. Great tips! I think it was the same way for us when we switched from real trees to fake ones, comparing to the menorah. But its better safe than sorry I suppose! Happy Chanukah kitties!

  3. Great information,we usually hang chocolates on the tree, not this year, Alfie's not bothered with them but Miss Mollie couldn't resist when we went to Have a great Monday xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

  4. We're a big fan of those Chocolate coins! We love them to death... of course, we try to not to show the dogs how we love it or they might end up wondering why humans love chocolate so much.

    Huggies and Cheese,


  5. Excellent post...Candles aren't a problem as Gizmo is too short to reach tabletops, but I am sure with cats in the house those lovely candles can cause problems...I did see a post recently where cooked, sliced carrots can substitute as pet-friendly "gelt", a clever idea...Happy to your crew from ours!

    1. Hrm, now that sounds interesting. Wonder if we can shape something equally kitty-nommy into gelt...

  6. purr-fect tips. During the holidays with all the extra activities you can forget that somethings are not designed for cats or dogs. It great to remind people to remember when they decorate their home to check what could be a problem for their pets.

  7. Great post! There are so many hazards involved in celebrations, it's hard to cover all the bases. Good luck at your home and Happy Chanukah!

  8. Loved learning more about Chanukah-look forward to learning more! Thanks for the insights and yes, all holidays should consider pet safety since we are the keepers of their safety :)

    the critters in the cottage xo

  9. Great information! We've learned a thing or two today and look forward to more! Purrs...from your friends at

  10. Thanks for all the helpful safety tips! It has been years since my human has had a lit candle here... SOMEkitty (yes, that would be the crazy tortie) is a little too manic!

  11. Oh, and I just want to add - Binga is 12! So some kitties actually don't mellow much with age - their bouts of destruction just lessen a bit.

  12. Great job and nice stop for the Chanukah Blog Crawl. Pet Safety is impawtent all year long, and especially at this Holiday Time. But we do admit, the hoomans love the latkes & choklit gelt over here. :)



  13. Fabulous!
    We had to go with battery operated candles to be safe for the kitties!

  14. Very wise blog and so glade that you are keeping Allie, Maxwell & Faraday so safe. We had fireworks on the first night of Hanukkah to celebrate the "Festival of Lights" in Melbourne and even though they were so pretty I decided to hide in huMum's shoe cupboard *scared ears*

    1. ooooh, we'd do the same thing! We hate boomers over here - and our neighbor has a civil war cannon he likes to shoot off at 4th of July and new year's eve.... *shudder*

  15. Wonderful matter which holiday you celebrate!
    We learned our lesson here a few years ago with a piece of pink ribbon. A very sick kitty, a very scared kittymom, and emergency surgery taught us a very important lesson.

    Be safe friends XOXO

    1. oooh NO. Mommy had the same experience with the one who came before - only it was thread! She vividly remembers emergency surgery too. So glad all is well with Katie now (uhm, well except for the W2 issue, MOL!).

  16. Great post! I used to be one of the people who criticized folks for getting an electric Menorah...I thought they were "too commercial." Guess what? Between having a cat and a dog and having to put the menorah WELL out of their reach, and the fact that Chanukah candles burn down in five seconds and are ridiculously expensive, I found a BATTERY OPERATED, super sleek and modern, silver table top Menorah this weekend. It isn't large and you don't screw and unscrew the bulbs. You push a switch! That's it! No cords either!

    1. Hey, cool! We'll hafta keep our eyes out for that one!

  17. GREAT matter which holiday you celebrate!
    Here we have NO lit candles since I moved in , just the electrical kind :)

    1. With your floofy tail, Charlie, we can see why! :-)

  18. Great tips! Our mum used to get gold foil covered chocolate coins in her stocking from Santa every year when she was little. She never knew until now how the tradition started.
    Happt Chanukah to you.
    Thanks for our star. We now have all six.

  19. Just for you, an ever-so-slightly rewritten version:

    On the eighth day of Chanukah
    My true love sent to me
    Eight mousies twitching
    Seven voles a-sniffing
    Six rats a-running
    Five chipmunks chewing
    Four squirrels a-scrambling
    Three gerbils jumping
    Two capybaras
    And a porcupine in a spruce tree!

    1. Oh Spitty! Allie's swooning in delight! *licks lips*

  20. Great blog entry and I love your wish at the end. :-)
    Darlene & The Amazing Aimee

    1. Us too! Imagine someone thinking our sweet Maxie was less adoptable...?

  21. Those are such wise tips, okay humans, pay attention!

  22. Your advice is wonderful. I had no idea tinsel was for Chanukah, too. I remember my former husband insisted upon putting up icicles on his tree against my advice, and his cat swallowed some and fortunately, it came out okay.

  23. Oh, we LOVE that Chanukah wish of yours!

    Thank you for these great tips. Prevention is the key! :)

  24. I did not know alot about Chanukah--and thank you for the know-how and tips. And I think going 'lectric is just fine--the spirit still surrounds your home-that is what counts!


    PS. my human Tommy says if you need anybody to taste the latkes....

  25. In our lobby, they have a Menorah set up that used light bulbs but the bulbs flicker like real flames. It's kinda cool.

  26. Happy Hanukkah! Thanks for a great post! We never really thought about burning candles and cats before, but its a really scary combination. Even the most laid back kitty can find something interesting, and they aren't always so graceful or time their leaps just right. And, mmmm, latkes!

  27. So many important tips. Hope everyone stays safe!

    Your pal, Pip

  28. Hey FaRaDaY, Hey Maxwell, Hey Allie, Jet here. Hi Miss Lisa.

    Happy Hannukah - Night 3!

    Your raise exquisite safety points. Puffy and Fluffy were more like Ryker and Mom places the Hannukiah where we cannot counter surf. When she's not in the room, she places the Hannukiah in our deep kitchen sink to make sure nothing goes awry (VBP - Vocab builder project).

    You are correct, we carefully selected a safe latke recipe for tomorrow.

    We cannot agree with you strongly enough about pets are not holiday gifts, we are LIFE gifts...

    Yeah for all breeds and all needs!!!

  29. such pawsome information about safety, we do use candles all winter for "the glow" but only if Dad and Mom are in the room with the lit candles, no where else in house but in our living/dining room...hard lessons learned from long ago. paw pats, Savannah

  30. Great information, and I love the line about "screwing in a new bulb each night"!

  31. Great information!

    Nubbin wiggles,


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