This is a topic that I wish I would have known more about eight or so years ago. I had a cat that was overall, a very well behaved cat. However, one year, we came home to our Christmas tree on the ground, and a very guilty looking kitty. Aside from the fact that now, your tree is sideways, on the ground, and there is broken glass everywhere, you may have lost some long time memories in all that shattered glass. Most importantly, this could put your feline in danger, that could potentially be very serious, even fatal. Luckily, Sadie had a knack of getting herself into trouble and walking out scratch free.
Determine Whether You are Going to Have a Real or Artificial Tree
This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself when “cat proofing” your Christmas tree. The safest way to ensure your cat’s care is to purchase an artificial tree. This eliminates the risk of your cat chewing on the toxic pine needles and getting sick, or worse. Just because you get an artificial tree doesn’t mean your cat can nibble on it. The plastic will also hurt their tummy so discourage the behavior. However, if you’re like me and can’t go without the smell of a real Christmas tree then giving your cat time to adjust to the tree for a few days is highly recommended. Eventually all the buzz will wear off and you can decorate it without your cat’s constant interest.
Keep the Tree Elevated and Secured
This is also another key aspect of keeping your feline safe around your tree. Having a steady, secure tree will reduce the risk of your cat toppling your tree over, like Sadie did at my house. Despite the fact that cats can climb, it is recommended to get a smaller tree that you can keep elevated.
Choose the Location Wisely
Regardless, if you choose to elevate it or not, it’s recommended to keep any furniture away from your tree. You don’t want your cat to be able to sit on a book shelf and bat at the ornaments halfway up your tree. The object is to keep your tree away from any furniture, and elevated so your feline isn’t tempted to jump on it.
Secure the Tree Stand and Keep it Out of Reach
Much like the pine needles, the water in the tree stand can be toxic to animals. Aside from the pesticides in it, the stand becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. This may look like a water bowl to your cat so purchase a stand that is designed so no animal can reach it.
Attach Ornaments Securely
If your ornaments are anything like mine, you’ve had them in your family for several decades, and sometimes even the hooks to hang it on are just as old. Make sure to secure the ornaments securely so that your cat cannot bat them off easily. I recommend using wire ties to secure them on. Save your bread ties and they work perfectly, especially for the ornaments at the bottom. There is nothing more annoying than having to pick up the same ornament, five times a day.
Keep Glass Ornaments Out Of Easy Reach or Avoid Them At All
If you decide to use glass ornaments, keep them out of reach from your cats. It’s best to keep them on the top 1/2 of the tree. If your cat does swat your ornaments down, at least you won’t have to worry about a glass one breaking and them licking the glass up or stepping in it.
Bitter Apple is Your Friend
Finally, when in doubt, purchase bitter apple spray, from your local pet store and spray everything your cat is interested in. If they try to nibble on the tree, spray the bottom of the tree. Cats cannot stand the taste and will want to leave it alone.
By taking some of these steps, you can help ensure that you and your feline friends all enjoy the holiday season together. Let us know how these worked for your felines and what other tips you might have for our readers to help keep their curious kitty’s out of their tree!
Photo Source: “Christmas Tree & Cina” by Shannon is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.