No one does the holiday season better than New York City—literally millions of people come from all over the world every year just to bask in our holiday spirit. And Rockefeller Center is at the heart of it all.
There’s the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, of course, which has lit up the Midtown plaza for more than 80 years, with the iconic ice skating rink below. Complementing it all is the holiday light show put on by Saks Fifth Avenue right across the way, which in recent years has become its own attraction, all adding to the huge crowds at the historic art deco complex.
Rock Center has also made a huge push to amp up its food and beverage game recently, adding a bunch of first-rate fast-casual spots to the concourse as well as an impressive number of exciting (and even hip!) new restaurants from some of the city’s best chefs.
Whether you’re a New Yorker or visiting, find a complete guide to getting the most out of this NYC treasure over the holiday season below.
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
The 2022 tree arrived as scheduled before dawn on November 12th, and the ritual of getting it off the flatbed truck, driving the spike into the trunk, and then hoisting the magnificent Norway Spruce up and into its stand attracted a larger crowd than usual to this under-publicized spectacle, probably due to the unusually warm weather.
The tree this year is a gift from the Liebowitz family, and it comes from Queensbury, New York. It’s 82-feet tall, 50-feet wide, and weighs about 14 tons. The spruce was about 85 to 90 years old when it was felled for its role as the world’s most famous Christmas tree. And as far as anyone could tell there were no owls still nestled in its brancheswhen it arrived in the big city. However, there was an owl mascot on hand for the festivities.Roxy the Owl greets spectators.
In 2020 an actual owl was found hiding in the branches of the tree.
(Scott Lynch)The 82-foot-tall Norway Spruce arrived on November 12th (Scott Lynch)
A crowd watches the 82-foot-tall Norway Spruce arrive on November 12th (Scott Lynch)
The tree lighting extravaganza will be held on the evening of November 30th, but before then the spruce gets decorated with more than 50,000 multi-colored LEDs strung over five miles of wire, powered in part by hundreds of solar panels on the roof of one of Rock Center’s buildings. Topping things off is a glittering 900-pound star, a three-dimensional stunner featuring 70 spikes covered in three million Swarovski crystals.
There will be huge crowds at the lighting ceremony, but you can enjoy the end result in a slightly less hectic setting between December 1st through mid-January, every day from 6 a.m. to midnight, and for all 24 hours of Christmas Day.
The Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light Show
Saks Fifth Avenue’s holiday facade in 2020 (Getty for Saks Fifth Avenue)
The Christmas windows in all of the luxury shops along this part of Fifth Avenue have long been a big draw for festive-feeling seekers, but in 2004 Saks Fifth Avenue really upped the ante with its spectacular Holiday Light Show, which has evolved into a repeating three-and-a-half minute performance involving hundreds of thousands of LEDs dancing across the entire facade of the department store.
Located right across the street from the Rockefeller Center tree and including a seasonal soundtrack blasted at an incredibly loud volume, the Holiday Light Show really solidifies this spot as NYC’s Christmas Central. The show runs once every ten minutes between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. nightly, starting on November 22nd until the New Year.
Note: Fifth Avenue from 49th Street to 57th Street will be closed to vehicular traffic for three Sundays in December ( 4th, 11th, and 18th) between the hours of noon and 6 p.m. as part of “Fifth Avenue for All.”
Rockefeller Center ice skating rink (Scott Lynch)
The Rockefeller Center Rink is open for the season, which means you can go skating here anytime through the beginning of April. But the best time to take a few laps around this iconic patch of ice is during the holidays, when the tree is twinkling, the music is merry and bright, and it’s easy to feel like you’re right in the middle of the best Christmas city in the world.
Rockefeller Center’s Best Fast Casual Dining Spots
Chicken Shawarma from Samesa (Scott Lynch)
One of the most surprising developments in the NYC restaurant scene these past few years has been the sudden rise of Rockefeller Center as an actual dining destination.
On the casual, counter-service side of things, start withSamesa, Eli and Max Sussman’s superb Mediterranean spot starring one of the best chicken shawarmas in town. There are lots of vegan and vegetarian options here too.
Another very good choice for something both hearty and healthy is chef JJ Johnson’s Field Trip, an outpost of his Harlem hit that highlights rice-based dishes from different cultures around the world.
Rock Center also now has excellent pizza, at Ace’s, the Williamsburg-based parlor that specializes in thick, cheesy, generously topped Detroit-style pies for one, two, or a whole crew. There’s also a Black Seed down here, slinging Dianna Daoheung’s extremely popular Montreal-ish bagels topped or stuffed in all sorts of crowd-pleasing ways.
The New York Pretzel, at the brand new Rockefeller Center Breads Bakery (Scott Lynch)
The New York Pretzel, at the brand new Rockefeller Center Breads Bakery (Scott Lynch)
All of the above, and many other fast-casual spots, sit in the concourse level of the complex, hard by The Rink. But another terrific eating option just opened out on Sixth Avenue, a new location of the great Breads Bakery mini-chain. In addition to all of Breads usual array of first-rate baked goods, both sweet and savory, the new place features two Rock Center exclusives: an updated version of the iconic New York pretzel, made with rye sourdough and served with mustard; and a “Pockets of Sunshine Babka,” a citrus-infused collab with the “Mayor of 30 Rock,” Al Roker.
Exciting New Full-Service Restaurants
Ignacio Mattos’ acclaimed cafe Lodi (Scott lynch)
Chocolate Croissant and Lemon and Poppyseed Girella from Lodi (Scott Lynch)
The first of the new breed of high-end restaurants to open here was the acclaimed bakery-cafe Lodifrom Ignacio Mattos, which landed in the southern plaza in the summer of 2021. This place has everything from soups, porchetta panini, and one of the best chocolate croissants you’ll ever eat (it’s shaped like a mini loaf of bread) to cocktails and fancy wines poured at sit-down dinners.
Le Rock (Scott Lynch)
Speaking of acclaimed, Le Rock, located in the complex’s northern plaza, just earned a rare three-star review from the New York Times, so don’t expect to be able to waltz in and get a table during prime time. But definitely try to eat here sometime soon; run by the team behind the sceney Frenchette down in Tribeca, this is instantly one of NYC’s must-try restaurants.
21 Greenpoint (Scott Lynch)Crab Toast at 21 Greenpoint (Scott Lynch)
Even cool Brooklyn spots are coming to Midtown now!
Currently in soft-open mode, the brand new 21 Greenpoint in the concourse level has a limited menu of delightful dishes like their Open Faced Crab Toast, Crunchy Broccoli Salad, and a delicious Ceviche.
The brand new tasting menu restaurant Naro, from the owners of Atomix (Scott Lynch)
The sleek and sophisticated Naro also opened just recently, from Junghyun “JP” and Ellia Park, the couple behind the much-lauded Atomix. Located right near The Rink, Naro offers a 12-course, Korean-inspired, $195 tasting menu at dinner.
Coming soon, hopefully by the time the tree is lit: Five Acres, a “vegetable-forward” spot from Greg Baxtrom, whose other restaurants, Olmstead, Maison Yaki, and Patti Ann’s, all within blocks of each other in Prospects Heights, are among the best in Brooklyn.
And then there’s the elegant, 145-seat Jupiter, a pasta-and-wine place from the owners of the beloved King in Hudson Square, Jess Shadbolt, Annie Shi, and Clare de Boer.
Jupiter, from the team behind the beloved King (Scott Lynch)The sceney Pebble Bar sit above Magnolia Bakery (Scott Lynch)
If you just want to hang out and enjoy a holiday spirit, Rockefeller Center has got you covered. City Winery has a nifty “Winter Domes” outdoor setup; The Other Half brewery, with an entrance on Fifth Avenue, sells lots of different canned beers; and the Pebble Bar is a happening cocktail spot located in that historic townhouse on the corner of Sixth Avenue, the only holdout from when they demolished the area in the 1930s, and where Hurley’s held it down for more than a century.
And remember, by far the easiest way to get to the center of it all is via the MTA, with multiple subway lines putting you within a block or two of the complex, including the B, D, F, and M trains to the 47-50 Street station, the E train to 5th Avenue-53 Street, the 1 train to 50th Street, and the N, Q, R, W to 49th Street. The M1, M2, M3, and M4 buses stop right nearby on Fifth Avenue as well.
This is Bèr. He's going as Paddington Dog for Halloween. Distant cousin of Paddington Bear, but with a strikingly similar fashion sense. Prefers peanut butter to marmalade. 14/10 pic.twitter.com/B9yZChSzGP
Thank you, Lord, that you fill a mother’s heart with love, That you have instilled in her very being the need to protect her children if at all possible, Thank you for giving her the gift of nurturing her children, of teaching them, of comforting them, for feeding them and making a safe place for them.
For guiding them to be all that God has created them to be. Fill every mother with love, wisdom and endurance, with strength and patience and joy. Give them ability to forgive again and again. Enable her to rely on You and call upon You, because You will give her all she needs. In Your precious and all powerful name, Amen
A MOTHER’S DAY PRAYER
Heavenly Father, to you I pray… On this day called, “Mother’s Day.” Let all mother’s on earth give praise, To you…for the children that you gave.
For you have blessed them from above, with little souls to nourish and love. Let them mold each one with care… And teach them to be kind and share.
Forgiveness is the special key… Start early on, to help them see. Their fragile minds are easily impressed. Please teach them ways, so they’ll be blessed.
Sow godly seeds into their minds. With careful pruning, you will find… Young adults with such strong roots, all through life, will bear rich fruit.
And then have faith for God to show… Them all the rest they have to know. Remember they’re His children too. For they were only lent to you.
Prayer for New Mothers
God our Creator, we pray: for new mothers, coming to terms with new responsibility ; for expectant mothers, wondering and waiting; for those who are tired, stressed or depressed; for those who struggle to balance the tasks of work and family; for those who are unable to feed their children due to poverty; for those whose children have physical, mental or emotional disabilities; for those who have children they do not want; for those who raise children on their own; for those who have lost a child; for those who care for the children of others; for those whose children have left home; and for those whose desire to be a mother has not been fulfilled. Bless all mothers, that their love may be deep and tender, and that they may lead their children to know and do what is good, living not for themselves alone, but for God and for others. Amen
We thank you for adopting us into your family through the miracle of your grace, and for calling us to be brothers and sisters to each other. Today, loving God, we pray for our mothers:
who cared for us when we were helpless
who comforted us when we were hurt
whose love and care we often took for granted.
Today we pray for:
those who are grieving the loss of their mother,
those who never knew their biological mother, and now yearn for her
those who have experienced the wonder of an adopted mother’s love
the families separated by war or conflict.
Lord, give them special blessings.
Keep us united with you and with each other, so that we can be and become all that we are meant to be.
Dear God, Bless All Mothers…
In this intense nine months, when mothers-to-be are realizing that their life is about to change forever, bless them God, because they feel alternately elated and alarmed. Help each mother-in-waiting to understand that she has been carefully chosen, by both you and by her baby, to guide it through its early years on planet Earth. Let her know that she will never be alone in the process. Help her to remember that her baby is your own perfect creation, just as she, herself, is your own perfect creation. Thank you God, for making each of your creations uniquely perfect in its own way. Amen.
Remember, you don’t need to be extravagant or extraordinary to markNational Love Your Pet Day 2022, on Sunday 20th February! Here are five ideas to consider…
Hard on the heels of Valentine’s Day, National Love Your Pet Day on Sunday 20 February, is the perfect day to spoil your pet more than usual and show them just how much they mean to you. (Although all pet owners know that every day is National Love Your Pet Day, whether you’re a cat lover, dog lover, rabbit lover or general all-round animal lover!).
You don’t need to spend money to mark this special day. Here are five things you might like to consider: –
Your attention is priceless!
If your pet loves attention, then make sure you spend some extra time making them feel special – perhaps play their favourite game or give them a belly rub.
2. Take them on an extra special walk
Figure Photo by Zen Chung from Pexels
If you have a dog, why not take it to one of its favourite places and let them stay there a little bit longer so they can fully enjoy the spot they love most, or why not look up a new walk that you can both discover together.
3. Make a new pet toy
Whether you turn an old t-shirt into a braided tug-of-war rope for your dog or create a cat flat or hideout from old cardboard boxes. It’s super fun and inexpensive to make toys for your pets from materials you might have in the house already, (but please make sure to check that they are safe for pet-use).
All that’s needed is a little creativity, a short amount of time from you – and some love!
4. Teach your pet a new skill
Positive reinforcement with praise or treats (as part of their daily allowance) can help you teach your dog a new command or perhaps train your cat how to high-five. The fun you’ll have training will help strengthen the bond you share.
5. Be in the moment
Put down your phone. Stop thinking about that Zoom call. Make a conscious effort to live in the moment, just like your pet. For our dogs and cats, fish or parrot, there are no worries of about yesterday or tomorrow; they live in the moment. Learning to live in the present can prove to be a present, not just to your pet, but to you as well.
Whatever way you decide to spend National Love Your Pet Day 2022, SCAS hopes you have a safe and enjoyable time with each other.
I am not sure who told Chevrolet that what we really needed this Christmas was to ugly cry over an ad they produced for the holidays, but whoever it was needs to go sit in the corner and think about what they’ve done.
You may have seen the shortened version of this ad, titled “Holiday Ride,” on TV. But you don’t get the full emotional impact without seeing the extended four-minute version, which is a tear-jerker and hit me harder than listening to my child ask me why Mufasa wasn’t waking up.
All the jokes aside, this ad is possibly one of the most needed and uplifting messages of the Christmas season — a season in one of the toughest years Americans have faced. Still reeling from COVID-19 and an economic collapse, we have watched as division and partisanship grew, the negative media coverage got worse, people were unable to get back to work, and inflation and shortages have had families struggling.
And this is all on the heels of a divisive presidential election and a pandemic that has taken our family members and loved ones and kept us separated for (in some cases) over a year.
At a time when all this is going on, this Chevy commercial comes out. It is a message about remembering loved ones and spending the time we have with them. It is, at its heart, a secular but great reminder that this time of year is about our families.
Here, you have a man who appears to have recently lost his wife. In an old barn is her old convertible, covered in dust and clearly unused. It’s an emotional moment as the memories flood back. His daughter sees that he’s struggling, so she goes to their small town auto repair shop and asks for help. They sneak in one night, load up the car, and then restore it. The dad sees the restored car, gets emotional, and drives up to his daughter, who begins to cry as she says “It’s what mom would’ve wanted.”
And it’s at that point that you’ll feel that familiar tingle in your eye, if you haven’t already.
A man lovingly remembers his wife. A daughter sees a father struggling. A community comes together to help one of their own. And an emotional reunion. Also, a dog.
We are a little over week away from Christmas, and now more than ever, we need to stop and remember what’s most important. Yes, we have political battles to fight. But for a few moments, let’s also remember that our families need us for more than fighting those battles. They need us to just be there for and with them.
Evelyn Quintero is an expert in making and arranging Christmas decorations. In fact, she has such excellent creative skills that she earned the grand prize on ABC’s “Great Christmas Light Fight.”
When Quintero lights up her “Peaceful Meadow,” it’s like seeing a scene straight out of a movie. Her residence in Atwater, California, is probably the brightest and merriest home in the whole state this holiday season.
Quintero’s decorations look so good that people from everywhere want to come over just to see it in person. And we’re sure that if they do, they won’t regret it.YouTube
“I think it will put Atwater on the map,” said neighbor Maria Vega of the display.
It took around 80,000 lights to complete the luminous display. It also includes other elements such as deer, mountains, and a waterfall.
One neighbor described it as a “work of art.” And it truly is.
Despite putting up such an incredible display, Quintero never expected to make it to the show, let alone with the top prize.YouTube
“I was in total shock. I just couldn’t believe that they chose me. I’m just a little old great-grandma on a corner here,” she said.
As it turns out, she’s had lots of practice. Before moving to Atwater to be closer to her family four years ago, Quintero and her husband lived in Vacaville, California. They were sort of local celebrities there because of their astonishing Christmas displays. When they moved to Atwater, that seems to be the case still.YouTube
The lot beside her Atwater home was specifically bought for her Christmas displays. She thought it would be great for the people walking on the sidewalk to view the decorations.
“I feel like I’m in a meadow and I feel like I’m out of this world. Like, amazed by these lights,” said a young girl named Kiley Stahlhut.
This display is truly a labor of love, as 90% of it is handmade. She uses a 3D pen to create the ducks, ladybugs, and birds in her decorations.
Quintero also painstakingly hand-painted all 8,000 flowers in the meadow, which are made of icicle lights. The beautiful sea of pink, which took her years to accumulate, is a tribute to her daughter who had passed away.YouTube
“We had a daughter who passed away several years ago and her favorite color was pink so yes, I do have more pink flowers in memory of her,” Quintero said. It’s her way of keeping Andrea’s memory alive.
She loves how people, especially kids, react to her decorations when they see them. As news of her display quickly spread across the country, two Atwater women brought their friend—who just came all the way from Texas—to visit Quintero’s now-famous house.
“I’m amazed at her skills and her imagination and that she even came up with the concept,” she said.YouTube
Quintero wasn’t seeking fame or recognition for this; she just wanted to share her talent and creativity.
“It was like showing your artwork at a New York gallery. That’s what I was thinking,” she said.
Check out the unveiling of Evelyn Quintero’s “Peaceful Meadow” in the video below.
There are Christmas lights and there are Christmas lights and I’ll admit I am a sucker for the latter.
You know, the ones you can’t drive by without saying “whoa” and slowing down your car to take in the scene. Like me, you may have purposely gone out of your way to drive and see them in the first place.
Well, these Christmas lights put those to shame, which is why we’ve rounded up some of our favorite Christmas installations from around the country to get you into the holiday spirit.
No matter what part of the country you’re in, there’s likely something for you here — and if not, can we interest you in a holiday lights-themed road trip? Meet you there.
Glow Holiday is one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit, and it’s back this year with COVID-19 protocols as part of the Great Minnesota Holiday Get-Together at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Located between St. Paul and Minneapolis, you’ll experience more than 1 million holiday lights, interactive displays and festive family-friendly activities, complete with Minnesota State Fair food and beverages.
Plan on spending about 60-90 minutes at Glow, followed by a visit to the State Fair Food Court. Tickets cost $20.75 per adult and $12.75 for children ages 5-12 and $1 from every ticket will be donated to local charities.
For its 26th year, Magic Christmas in Lights is back at Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Mobile County. On the 65-acre estate, you’ll be able to stroll through dazzling light displays featuring more than 1,100 set pieces, 3 million lights and 15 scenes, all on the former home of Coca-Cola’s Walter Bellingrath and his wife and philanthropist Bessie.
The lights will turn on Nov. 26 and will run through Jan. 5 (closed Christmas and New Year’s Day). Timed tickets are available until 9 p.m. and cost anywhere from $8 to $25.
It may not snow in Florida, but the Night of Lights will sure make it feel like Christmastime for the 28th year. Every evening from Nov. 20 through Jan. 31, visit the Plaza de la Constitucion and the Bridge of Lions to see one of National Geographic’s top 10 holiday light displays. There are even live music performances in the plaza during weekends and holidays.
It’s free to everyone and sure to please children and adults of all ages. Better yet, you don’t even need tickets to see it. You can tour by trolley, train, boat — or even do a wine-and-carriage tour to see this exhibit featuring millions of tiny white lights in the Nation’s Oldest City.
While it is hard to rival New York City’s Rockefeller Christmas tree, some of the best Christmas lights you’ll find near the city are actually in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn — specifically from 11th Avenue to 13th Avenue and between 83rd and 86th streets. About an hour from midtown Manhattan, these massive, professionally done light displays shine brighter than the top of the Chrysler Building.
The lights start the weekend after Thanksgiving, but the best displays are usually on the weekends starting in mid-December. It is recommended to go during the evening as well, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. If you are without a car, consider an escorted bus tour to see the lights; tickets start at $55 for adults.
(Photo by OlegAlbinsky via Getty Images)
Hersheypark’s Christmas Candyland in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights in Wheeling, West Virginia
The Oglebay Winter Festival of Lights dates back to 1985 and currently stands as one of the nation’s largest holiday light shows. In fact, it’s so popular it attracts more than 1 million visitors a year. The festival features 300 acres of twinkling lights over a 6-mile drive, plus 90 lighted attractions made up of more than 1 million energy-efficient LED lights. New this year are a 60-foot-tall Welcome Tree and 14 new audio experiences to complement your lights viewing, along with a life-sized nativity scene. The festival runs Nov. 4 through Jan. 9, and is free to the public.
A town called “Christmas Town“? Say no more. McAdenville is marking its 66th year of celebrations, and is frequently nominated as one of the best holiday light displays in the nation. The route goes on for more than a mile and features more than 250 evergreen trees covered with half a million red and green lights, 160 decorated homes and seasonal music at its historic McAden Mills Bell Tower. The tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 1 marks the official start of Christmas Town USA, along with the yule log ceremony on Dec. 16, a tradition since 1950, followed by a parade. Christmas Town USA.
(Photo by Steve Rankin/mcadenville-Christmas Town)
The display is free and open to the public, and you can walk or drive through as many times as you’d like. You can visit each night from Dec. 1 through Dec. 26, between 5:30 and 10 p.m.
Glittering Lights in Las Vegas
Glittering Lights at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a wholly American Christmas tradition — and it’s not just because of the millions of twinkling lights. This drive-thru light show also hosts different initiatives to support local charities, churches and schools, including Speedway Children’s Charities. We love a holiday tradition that gives back to the community.
An Old Time Christmas at the Silver Dollar City theme park in Branson is a tried-and-true fan favorite. Here, you’ll find an eight-story Christmas tree display, 6 1/2 million twinkling lights and 30-plus live holiday shows daily on outdoor stages. This year features the debut of “Home For Christmas,” a Broadway-style show at Red Gold Heritage Hall, along with the return of “A Dickens’ Christmas Carol.” Pricing is not cheap; tickets start at $74 plus tax, but do include ride access. Silver Dollar City’s An Old Time Christmas runs Nov. 6 through Dec. 30.
(Photo courtesy of Silver Dollar City)
Holiday Festival of Lights in Charleston, South Carolina
The Holiday Festival of Lights is open nightly from Nov. 12 through Dec. 31. You can visit Santa at his village, take a train ride to check out the lights and indulge in all sorts of holiday treats at the Winter Wonderland. And unique to this festival, there are holiday sand sculptures, too. Advance tickets start at $15 or tickets can be purchased at the gate for $20 per vehicle, for use from 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m.
At Garden Lights, Holiday Nights, you’ll find thousands of lights spread out across 30 acres of the Atlanta Botanical Garden, which is even more magical than you’re imagining. It’s all part of the Nature’s Wonders exhibit, the largest curtain of synchronized light and sound in the world. You can also visit the Skylights Lounge where you’ll find several larger-than-life plants from imaginary worlds like Alice’s Wonderland. With a restaurant on-site, this is truly a great way to spend a date night or family outing.
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Most of us look forward to the festive period, however, for cats Christmas may be a time of stress and risk of injury.
As a species cats enjoy routine and are sensitive to changes in their environment, making the celebrations challenging. In addition, the season means certain toxic plants and food may be accessible to curious cats. At International Cat Care we have consulted veterinary members to ask them what injuries they see at this time of year. Based on this information and with the input of the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) this article offers advice on what to keep out of reach and what to do to minimise the disruption to keep our cats happy this Christmas.
Poinsettia (Figure 1) is often mentioned as a potentially poisonous plant but its reputation is perhaps unfair. The Veterinary Poisons Information Service inform us that in over half the cases of pets eating Poinsettia plants reported to them, the cat or dog shows no signs of illness. Nevertheless it is still a good idea to keep the plant out of reach. In addition, Mistletoe, Holly, Ivy and Christmas Cherry can cause a tummy upset and should be kept away from inquisitive cats.
Figure 1: Poinsettia
Many cat owners have had the experience of their cat climbing the Christmas tree and it falling over. Usually both are unharmed but it is worth considering securing the tree to avoid this. Injuries are reported from falling from Christmas trees and from the resulting smashed baubles, with glass ones particularly sharp when broken. Ingestion of Christmas tree needles and the fake snow applied to them can cause stomach upset and other decorations can be ingested resulting in a ‘foreign body’ (see later – abnormal material that can get stuck in the cat’s digestive system). Chewing of lights and wires can be a problem, especially for nosy kittens and it is not uncommon for cats to pass urine just where you don’t want them to i.e. the tree, potentially a problem if electric plugs and wires are exposed. This can be a sign of stress so read on for techniques to reduce the anxiety cats may suffer at this time of year.
At this time of celebration food may be left out with left-overs within reach. We traditionally worry about dogs and chocolate toxicity, but what about cats? Chocolate is also toxic to cats, although the amount a cat needs to eat to make them ill is a lot higher than for dogs. Signs of chocolate poisoning including being sick and passing diarrhoea, drinking a lot, appearing drunk, trembling or even having a fit. Hopefully a cat’s lesser interest in sweet treats means this risk is small.
Similarly, grapes and raisins, known for causing kidney damage in dogs, may affect cats but poisoning is much less common. The VPIS would however advise treatment of cats known to have eaten these foods, and suggest that for example mince pies are not left out. If you think your cat has eaten such food, contact your vet and encourage them to call the VPIS for advice. On the subject of food it may be tempting to treat your cat this Christmas, perhaps extra cat treats or some scraps from the Christmas dinner. While a little left-over turkey will be enjoyed by the majority of cats without harm, excessive treats and human food could make a cat poorly so do try and stick to their normal feeding routine at this time of year; they won’t know they are missing out! Another hazard can be cooked poultry bones – they are hard for cats to digest and can get stuck in the digestive system so make sure your cats can’t raid the bin after the Christmas lunch.
One of our vets reported seeing a cat with a singed tail from Hannukkah menorah candles and certainly exposed candles can be a hazard to cats who tend to jump onto windowsills and mantelpieces where candles are placed. As elevated locations are still accessible to most cats, candles should be kept where you can keep an eye on them or left off the Christmas list.
Festive foreign bodies
‘Foreign bodies’ is the term used to describe non-food items that have become lodged in a cat’s body, often the digestive tract, and we have looked at them in a previous topic in our Keeping Cats Safe campaign. They are less common in cats than in dogs, but we were surprised by the number reported by our veterinary members. When we asked them about Christmas hazards this was the most commonly reported medical issue linked to the season. ‘Linear foreign bodies’, those string or string-like materials causing a problem, appear to be the most common and so tinsel, lametta (the long decorative strips of tinsel) and string (around meat or used to hang decorations) were common culprits. One of our vet members reported removing a sticky mass of sellotape from a cat’s intestine in June that had been there since Christmas, evidenced by the adhered Holly leaves visible in places! As mentioned above, cooked poultry bones may also result in injury. If your cat is seen chewing the tinsel or any other string like material, prevent their access if possible and keep an eye on your pet for signs of illness. These signs can be subtle in cats and include simply sleeping more, hiding away and being sick or refusing food. Consult your vet if you are worried about your pet and do mention any non-food material you have seen your cat chewing.
How to make Christmas less stressful for cats
This time of year means lots of changes to a home, and for cats who often thrive on predictability, routine and the perceived safety of their territory (their home and garden), this can be distressing. The furniture is often moved around, the tree is brought in, lights and decorations are put up, music is played, all making their home look, sound and smell different. In addition, unfamiliar people, and worse still unfamiliar dogs, may visit the house or even stay, again at variable times, interrupting the normal routine. In order to minimise distress during this season consider the following:
Ensure your cat has several safe and comfortable places to hide and get away from the noise and hustle and bustle. A cardboard box or igloo bed above the wardrobe or under the bed can provide security. If new beds are added to the home at this time, make them smell familiar by adding bedding already used by your cat.
Advise visitors not to approach the cat if it is in its bed, but only to stroke the cat if it initiates contact. Visiting children may be keen to see and cuddle the cat but gentle stroking on the cat’s initiation must be insisted upon.
Guests can be given cat treats and toys to help teach the cat positive associations with the new people.
Ensure there is always an open door to allow the cat to get away from any noisy parties or dinners to a quieter part of the home.
Consider plugging in a ‘Feliway’ diffuser into the room the cat spends most time in, several days before the festivities begin. This product (available from your vet) contains feline pheromones which can help the cat feel more secure. Ensure it is switched on continually throughout the festive season.
If visitors are sleeping in one of the rooms the cat usually uses, for example, for sleeping, eating or toileting, be sure to provide the required resources (beds, food or litter tray) in other, quieter parts of the house and, ideally, before the visitors arrive so that changes occur gradually and the cat is comfortable with the new location.
If the cat’s litter tray is positioned in a place that will mean more people traffic or noise during the Christmas period, it is good practice to provide an additional litter tray in a quieter part of the home.
If the cat is particularly sound sensitive, avoid crackers and party poppers.
If a dog is visiting it may be helpful to restrict its access to the cats retreat areas using, for example, baby gates on the stairs.
The Christmas season is a time for celebration but don’t forget your cat this year. Simple changes can keep them safe and make them feel more secure during the festive period.
Volmer PA. 2002 How dangerous are winter and spring holiday plants to pets?Vet Med 97 (12):879-884.
Marhold J. 1986 Prehled Prumyslove Toxikologie; Organicke Latky. Prague, Czechoslovakia, Avicenum, pp1372. Cited in: Theobromine. RTECS®: Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances. From MDL Information Systems, Inc. (electronic version). Thomson Micromedex, Greenwood Village, Colorado, USA.
Gwaltney-Brant S. 2001 Chocolate intoxication. Vet Med96 (2):108-111.
Catch up with our past Keeping Cats Safe topics here.
I am the feline behaviour specialist at feline charity ‘International Cat Care’. We are about engaging, educating and empowering people throughout the world to improve the health and welfare of cats by sharing advice, training and passion.
From foodies to road trippers, we’ve got plenty of gift ideas for the travelers on your list
With Thanksgiving just next week, there’s much to do – and that includes holiday shopping. To help us create our 2021 holiday gift guides, 10Best Editors partnered with a panel of our contributors to nominate their favorite items in six categories.
For the past four weeks, our readers have been voting for their favorites. Click on each category below to see the top 10 gift ideas for each category.
Best Gifts for Adventurers: MPOWERD Solar Lights
MPOWERD Solar Lights are the perfect gift for the adventurer in your life — Photo courtesy of Sebastian Jacobo
This inflatable solar-powered lantern and charger is an ideal gift to bring on boating, hiking and backpacking trips or any outdoor adventure. Mpowerd’s Luci Pro Series solar light offers mobile charging, cool or matte white LEDs, and lasts up to 50 hours on a single charge. Perfect for cell phone charging and tent lighting while camping, this product truly puts “the power of the sun in your hands.”
Rocketbook brings the pen and paper experience into the modern age with a notebook that feels like paper but connects to the cloud for endless reusability. A damp cloth erases the page to a like-new state.
Best Gifts for Families: Artsy Fartsy Drawing Game
Artsy Fartsy is a great gift for the whole family — Photo courtesy of Artsy Fartsy
“This is NOT your parents’ drawing game,” says TwoPointOh Games about Artsy Fartsy. A family-friendly version of the well-known adult party game Drawing Without Dignity, this is a fast-paced game where artistic skills are not required.
Not much is off-limits in Artsy Fartsy – categories can be anything from “Don’t Get Caught” to “Animals That Leave Tiny Turds” and everything else you might imagine! Team up with family members to draw and guess from clues that will have everyone laughing out loud for hours. A perfect gift for families from four to twelve members and ages ten and up.
Nine Mile Hot Sauces are the HOT gift this year — Photo courtesy of Nine Mile Restaurant
Spice up your foodie gift basket this year with hot sauces from Nine Mile, the North Carolina-based vegetarian-friendly restaurant. This Jamaican-inspired collection includes Red-I with chipotles and habaneros, the tomatillo-based Hempress Rising with hints of thyme and garlic, and the Sun is Shining hot sauce with a touch of mango and ginger.
WompleBox Gift Box is the perfect gift for a family of road trippers — Photo courtesy of Womple Studios LLC
Womple Studios wants to ignite a passion for discovery and learning in kids through storytelling. Each month, your child will receive a WompleBox introducing new countries and cultures, including an illustrated book, maps, guides and activities to pique their curiosity. Soon they’ll be great, engaged travel partners in your family.
The SUNFLOW Chair will help you relax on your next beach trip — Photo courtesy of SUNFLOW
This isn’t any ordinary beach chair. The SUNFLOW Chair is compact and easy to carry without sacrificing comfort. Set it up in one of four positions for lounging, napping, reading or simply soaking up the sun. “This stylish and innovative beach chair is the ultimate way to enjoy a luxurious day on the sand,” says 10Best contributor Marla Cimini.
Former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said that the recent epidemic of “flash mob” thievery going on in California will inevitably spread around the country.
“This is something now that I really unfortunately think is going to spread,” Ramsey told CNN on Thursday, via Newsweek. “Right now it’s in California, but it will spread, there’s no question about it.”
Ramsey’s comments come after another theft took place Wednesday. Four individuals, believed to be between the ages of 14 and 18, stole $20,000 worth of merchandise from an Apple store in the Santa Rosa Plaza, about 50 miles from San Francisco, The Daily Wire reported. “In a brazen daytime burglary in front of customers and staff, the suspects grabbed over $20,000 worth of merchandise from the store and fled the area in an unknown vehicle,” Santa Rosa police said in a statement.
A mob of five also sacked a Nordstrom luxury outlet in Canoga Park, a town in the Los Angeles area, Wednesday evening. The looters, one of them wearing an orange wig, attacked a security guard with “some kind of chemical” and stole at least seven luxury handbags, The Daily Wire reported.
The San Francisco Bay Area has been the epicenter of the looting sprees in recent days. The Daily Wire reported that a mob of about 80 people attacked another Nordstrom outlet in Walnut Creek, about 30 minutes outside of San Francisco, pepper spraying an employee and physically assaulting two others. Three people were arrested in connection with the robberies, according to local news outlets.
The Walnut Creek robbery was one of three major incidents that took place last weekend. The Daily Wire reported that a mob of people, some of whom were armed with hammers, looted a jewelry store in the city of Hayward, about 35 miles from San Francisco, on Sunday evening. Another mob looted a Louis Vuitton outlet in San Francisco on Friday night, breaking windows and “emptied out” the store. Newsweek reported that a Burberry and Yves Saint Laurent outlet were also robbed last Friday.
Several factors are to blame for the looting spree. Local officials have blamed the spike on California’s Proposition 47, which lessened penalties for shoplifting and raised the threshold for felony shoplifting from $400 to $950. Law enforcement officials told the Daily Mail that the mobs are recruited for up to $1,000 to steal the goods and sell them over the internet.
Ramsey told CNN that he saw the same thing during his tenure as Philadelphia Police commissioner. Groups of up to 20 individuals, mostly young adults, would rush into stores like Macy’s and take what they could before fleeing.
“It was really, really difficult to get a handle on it,” said Ramsey.
“What we found was, one, it was being organized through social media. So one of the things we started doing is paying close attention to social media.”
Ramsey said that just as Philadelphia Police struggled to contain the outbreak of looting in their city, so too would the stores, and California police, struggle to stop further attacks.
“I don’t know what’s driving all this, but it is of concern and it will continue,” Ramsey said. “It is not going to stop anytime soon.”
“This is not shoplifting, this is something far worse than shoplifting,” Ramsey added. “So, there’s a lot that has to be done if we want to get a handle on it.”
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