Everybody knows about not letting cats suck on mistletoe or poinsettias, about not giving them chocolate, about not using string tinsel, about not feeding them all the rich, fatty stuff we’re eating this time of year. But here’s a holiday safety issue I’d never heard of before: potpourri.
Specifically, potpourri oil. Evidently, this stuff is really, really alkaline, and it can cause some really nasty chemical burns, inside and out. We just recently saw a cat who’d stuck his paw in the stuff, decided it felt icky, and started licking it off. The paw sloughed completely, and he’s got to have daily bandage changes until the skin grows back. The ulcerations in his mouth were so bad he wouldn’t even tolerate syringe feeding, and we had to put a tube up his nose and down into his throat to feed him. He’ll have that bad boy in for a week or two, but at least we didn’t have to put a tube through his side and straight into his stomach. All this cost…well, rather a lot more than most people are happy about shelling out around Christmas.
I’d also keep this stuff away from little kids–if this stuff will burn critter skin, it’ll most likely burn people skin, and you know how little kids like to muck about in stuff. If one of the kids or the pets does get it on them, wash the area immediately and thoroughly. We use dish detergent; it cuts through the oils better than soap or shampoo. If you suspect ingestion, seek medical attention right away.