What’s a cat’s favourite Christmas song?
“Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree,
Your ornaments are history!“
While that might be funny, having your cat literally annihilate your Christmas tree every year isn’t. So when it comes to cats vs Christmas trees, what can you do to make sure this festive season is more a case of “deck the halls with boughs of holly” rather than “wreck the tree and blame the doggies”?
Cats and Christmas Trees: What’s the Beef?
You’re probably wondering how and why this traditional feud between Christmas trees and cats started. But to be fair, while you see a Pinterest-perfect tree in your living room, your cat sees something completely different.
We all know that trees, Christmas or otherwise, need to be conquered. But when it’s adorned with shiny baubles, hanging thingamajigs and crinkly tinsel, it’s enough to turn the most peaceful of cats into a mayhem-making moggy quicker than the Christmas lights can twinkle.
You can’t really blame the cat, can you? Curiosity, an instinct to climb and irresistible decorations is a feline’s idea of absolute paradise. And every year, without fail, you present your cat with a perfectly packaged indoor activity centre.
While we can’t promise you this Christmas will be any different, we can give you a couple of do’s and don’ts to keep your cat, and tree safe over the festive season.
How to Keep Your Cat and Christmas Tree Safe
Choosing a tree
When choosing a Christmas tree with cats in the house, it’s worth getting a fake one. As wonderful as a real tree is, pine needles can be toxic and pose serious health risks for cats that like to chew. Nowadays, you can find artificial trees that look real. And best of all, you can use it again and again.
Size is everything
Fake or real, we suggest going for a smaller sized tree if you’ve got cats. Not only are they quicker to decorate, but they’re also easier to redecorate. A small tree is also safer should your cat decide to attack it, and it falls over.
Setting up your Christmas tree
Give your cat time
As tempting as it might be to start decorating the tree as soon as you’ve put it up, don’t! To stop your cat destroying it, and all the decorations in the process, we suggest giving your kitty a chance to explore the tree first. Hopefully, by the time you start decorating it, your cat will have lost interest.
Use common scents
Keep your cat away from the tree with orange or lemon peels. Many cats hate citrus smells, so it might be a good idea to place peels around the base of the tree. You could also pine cones to keep them away.
“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…” However, there’s no mention of the cat pouncing on the tree in the middle of the night! For your peace of mind, and your cat’s safety, make sure your Christmas tree has a base that can’t be toppled over. Another option is to secure the tree to the wall or ceiling.
Cover the water bowl
If you’re a traditionalist and can’t stand the thought of an artificial tree, be sure to cover the bowl at the base of the tree with a skirt. This will stop your cat drinking the water, which can be toxic.
If at all possible, try placing your Christmas tree away from couches, cupboards and other potential launch pads. This should, in theory, stop your cat attacking the tree from its preferred vantage point.
Decorating your Christmas tree
When you’re decorating a Christmas tree with cats in the home, your mantra should be ‘top-heavy’. As aesthetically unpleasing as it might look, try and avoid placing decorations at the bottom of the tree and at the end of the branches. The higher you place the ornaments, the less chance there is of your cat reaching them.
Nothing screams Christmas like Christmas tree lights
But if you’ve got a curious cat in the house, you might want to rethink this. Either place them in the centre of the tree where your furry feline can’t reach them or leave them off altogether. Never leave your cat unsupervised with the lights on or plugged in and use a cord protector.
Don’t leave them hanging
Hanging ornaments with metal hooks can be dangerous if you have cats in your home. We suggest tying your Christmas decorations to the tree securely so that your cat can’t make off with them.
Trash the tinsel
Tinsel is an affordable and effective way to decorate a Christmas tree, but did you know it can be dangerous for cats? Not only is it a potential choking hazard for your pet, but it can also get stuck in their intestines, leading to all sorts of complications. Trash the tinsel and go for a safer option, such as paper or wood decorations. There are even vegan-friendly felt options available.
Avoid chocolate decorations
Who doesn’t love edible Christmas tree decorations? Sadly, when you have cats in the house, these are not an option. Chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine, which if ingested can cause seizures and even heart failure in cats.
As much as we love blooming Christmas table displays, some flowers and plants are incredibly dangerous if you have cats. Mistletoe and poinsettias are just a few of the Christmas flowers and plants that are toxic to cats. And don’t overdo the snowglobes. They contain ethylene glycol, which is a sweet-smelling, but lethal substance for cats and dogs.
Cat proof your Christmas Tree
Although you might feel like the Grinch that stole Christmas, you could always cat proof your Christmas tree. Whether you put it in a cage, wrap it in cling film, use an upside-down tree or decorate a cactus posing as a Christmas tree, let your creative juices flow.
Distract the cat
If you want to keep your Christmas tree safe, you may want to think about luring the cat away with other more suitable distractions. These include:
- Toys and accessories such as tunnels for games of hide-‘n-seek as well as scratch play posts with a ball attached.
- A hammock so that your cat can relax.
- One-on-one time with your kitty. Nothing beats playtime with you to release all that pent-up energy.
Cause a stink
If all else fails, you can use a natural spray repellent to keep your cat away from the Christmas tree. As already mentioned, citrus sprays will do the trick. Otherwise, try something a little more extreme like Bitter Apple spray or vinegar diluted with some water. These natural, non-toxic repellants should hopefully stop your cat attacking, and destroying your labour of love.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
When you open your home, and heart to a cat, you must learn to not sweat the small stuff. Cats will climb Christmas trees and wrestle baubles to the ground. They’ll also do their best to redecorate your tree and play hide-and-seek with the ornaments. Every cat owner knows having a cat means having a sense of humour.
Have you found an ingenious way to cat-proof your Christmas tree? We’d love to see photos and be able to share them with the rest of our readers.