To cats, a Christmas tree is the finest new toy their human companion ever carried home. And that misconception can start the holiday complications.
To keep the cat out of the Christmas tree, try these simple strategies:
1. Choose a cat-friendly tree.
Artificial or real? It may not feel as holiday-spirited, but choose the fake tree for your cat’s sake. Cats show less interest in artificial trees, find them tougher to climb, and can’t strip off the pine needles as easily. Besides, an artificial tree doesn’t need standing water, which cats often treat as their personal reservoir.
Thin trees are better than bushy ones, and lower trees less intriguing than tall ones. Feline climbers can’t get the balance and space they need to scale a short, narrow tree with small branches.
2. Tether the top. Weight the bottom.
A tether can hinder your tree from falling over should an energetic cat make a dash to the top. All you need is fishing line, molly screws, and a pair of scissors. Put a molly screw into the wall behind your tree or into the ceiling above it. Cut the fishing line with scissors, wrap it around your tree, and tie the line to the molly screw.
Some folks recommend misting your tree with vinegar, bitter apple, or a harsh citrus-scented pet repellent. Since these smells would also keep the family away from the tree, we searched for a better option. Animal expert Erin Rachel has one. She suggests hanging pieces of dried orange and lemon around the bottom of the tree. It might keep away the cats, and it will certainly add a lovely scent to the holiday decorations.
Rachel has another good idea. Instead of constructing a blockade around the tree to keep the pets away, add bells as decorations. When you hear a clanging bell, check the tree for marauding cats.
4. Decorate with durable ornaments.
Avoid festooning your home with tinsel. Cats love to play with the stuff, but they ingest it, leading to potentially fatal digestive obstructions. While you’re decking the halls, though, consider trimming the top of your tree with the glitteriest ornaments. Dangling a snazzy ornament on the bottom of the tree is asking the cat to cause a scene.
Instead, decorate the lower half of the tree with the plainest ornaments. If you are a DIYer, you can create your own decorations with styrofoam balls instead of glass or ceramic ones. Cover the styrofoam with fabric, baubles or paint to make unbreakable, attractive ornaments.
Be sure to take extra safety precautions if you decorate with candles. Open flame is especially dangerous for curious pets.
5. Consider creative alternatives.
YouTube cat sensations Cole & Marmalade along with their humans offer advice in How To Make a Cat Proof Christmas Tree! Their idea is to arrange wrapped boxes in a maze decorated with cat toys. It looks fun! Building a holiday tree your cat can play on to his heart’s content may be the best choice of all. No harmful decorations, toxic pine needles, or dangerous candles. Just plenty of good times with cats.
Christmas trees don’t have to cause stress for you or your cats. Follow the above tips, and keep your cat healthy and happy this holiday season. 🐈