The Holiday season is finally here, and we are ready for the beautiful twinkling lights, the ugly Christmas sweaters and the warm cups of cocoa. For many of us, December means Christmas tree and for many of our cats, Christmas tree means brand new scratching pole. We all laugh at the many viral videos of cats knocking down Christmas trees but when it happens in our own home… not so much. To help you relax and enjoy yourself, protect your tree and keep your cat away from the vet office this Holiday season, check out this cat-proofing tips:
1. Choose the Right Tree
We all love real trees, but they can be potentially dangerous to your kitty: pine needles can be mildly toxic and can cause injuries when chewed or swallowed; so, consider buying a fake one. If you opt for a real tree, choose a variety with low needle-drop and keep the tree trunk in water to reduce the needle-drop even more. Remember to keep the water bowl covered with a tree skirt to prevent your cats from drinking from it as stagnant water can be harmful.
Choosing a smaller tree can also be a good idea. Think about this – the bigger the tree, the higher your cat can climb, the bigger the fall and the chaos. A shorter tree is generally safer if you own a cat as it will make the risk of injury smaller, plus the cleanup is considerably easier.
2. The Perfect Location
Consider placing your tree in a corner of the room with plenty of open space around it. This will restrict the access to it as well as reduce the temptation of using surrounding furniture as launchpads to dive into your tree. If you can, set the tree in a room you can close off when you are not home or at night, so you can relax knowing your cat isn’t messing with the tree when you’re out shopping for Christmas presents. Child gates or play areas can also be a good idea if you can’t close off the room.
3. A Stable Base
Once you have chosen the tree and the location, let’s keep it in place. As we know, cats enjoy climbing and jumping into trees so, do your best to stabilize it. Choose a firm and solid base for your tree to minimize the rocking and the risk of it falling over. For extra stability, especially with big ones, anchor the tree to the wall or the ceiling to help keep it upright till the New Year.
4. Leave it Bare
Listen, we aren’t suggesting you don’t decorate your Christmas tree but maybe consider not doing it right away. Try putting your tree up without the decorations for a couple of days. This will allow for your cat to get used to the tree, explore it, smell it, chew it, and hopefully get bored of it before you put your precious ornaments on it. This goes for any other Christmas decoration you might put up in your home, sometimes decorating little by little really makes a big difference.
5. Careful with your decorations
How you choose to decorate your tree is key here. First things first, keep your cats out of the room while you decorate. Not only will it make the whole process easier for you but seeing all your ornaments dangle and sparkle while you hang them up might be too much of a temptation for a playful cat. Also, it can be useful to reconsider your ornaments this year: choose decorations that are less likely to be attractive to your cats (felt, paper, matte or wooden decorations) and focus on decorating the top two thirds of the tree so that to keep as many baubles as possible away from their paws.
To prevent your cats from stealing your Christmas decorations, attach the ornaments securely onto the tree branches so that they dangle as little as possible. Use attachments that won’t hurt your cat’s paws or mouth if they get curious and always give your ornaments a tug to make sure they won’t be easily pulled off.
6. Make it Safe
Some traditional decorations can be very dangerous to cats so, to avoid an emergency visit to your local vet, please takes these tips into consideration. Skip the tinsel as it can be toxic as well as ribbons and other long materials that dangle since they can cause intestinal blockage if swallowed. Don’t use real candles in your tree as it can be a fire hazard and avoid glass or breakable ornaments and decorations with metal hooks as they can cause injuries. Remember that chocolate, artificial snow and festive plants like holly, mistletoe and pointsettias can be poisonous to cats. Finally, be careful with snow globes as these have been known to contain antifreeze which is highly toxic to cats.
7. Use Shock-Free Lights
Protect your cats from shock by investing in a pet-proof cord protector, placing your fairy lights higher up in the tree and using an extension cord that shuts off automatically when damaged. Be sure to place the lights towards the center of the tree, to tape any loose wires to the floor and unplug all lights when you are out or asleep.
8. Keep Your Cat Entertained
Keep you cats distracted with brand new toys, scratcher or cat tower so they have a safe way to use up all their playful energy. Encourage your cats to interact with their Christmas presents and join in the game! Enjoy this quality time together.
9. Some Extra Precautions
As an additional step you can spray oils or products that are unpleasant to cats such as citronella or citrus oil, bitter apple or products specially designed to keep cats off Christmas trees. If you decide to do so, please make sure all the products are safe and non-toxic for pets. You can also place uncomfortable surfaces under the tree such as pinecones or sticky materials to discourage cats from getting too close.
10. Have a Merry Christmas
You’ve done everything you possibly could to prevent a Christmas tree disaster so, relax. If your cat is curious, playful or even a kitten, chances are they are going to play with the tree at some point so, why worry? You have hopefully made it a safe experience for them and so, accept the unpredictable and enjoy your holiday season with your kitty. At the end of the day, they are more important than a silly tree.