Christmas trees and cats can be a recipe for chaos if you’re not careful. However, there are ways to ensure a successful holiday season for both your decor and your pets. The following tips can help you introduce your cats to your Christmas tree without worry.
Set up the tree and leave it undecorated for a few days.
Give your feline friend time to adjust to the new item by setting up the tree without immediately decorating it. Leave it for a few days, allowing your cat to adjust to the new smells and sights.
A tree being in the house is new to your cat, and once decorated, it can be hard for your cat to resist the glittery and shiny decorations. If you set the tree up without decorating it, your cat can get used to it being there. Once the tree is decorated, it won’t be such a ‘new adventure’ anymore, and your cat will be more likely to leave it alone.
Invest in a heavy-duty tree stand.
Make sure the tree is properly and safely secured in a tree stand. Invest in a heavy base. Even if you have an artificial tree, use a base that is meant for a real tree. If you buy an artificial tree, you may get a stand along with your tree, but it may not be sturdy enough to keep it standing should your pet decide to investigate it too closely.
You can add to the sturdiness of the base by attaching it to wood pieces. Note that when you put a tree skirt around the base of the tree, no one will see the stand anyway.
Anchor your tree to the ceiling or wall.
Anchoring the tree to a wall is a great way to ensure the tree doesn’t topple if your kitties start to get a little too curious. Position the tree against a wall in front of a large picture. Remove the picture from the wall and secure the tree to the wall in its place by using fishing line and a strong hook. After Christmas is over and the tree comes down, you just remove the fishing line, put the picture back, and no one will even notice!
Another way to anchor a tree is to place the tree under a spot where you have a hanging plant. Remove the plant from its hook, and tie the tree to the ceiling plant hook with fishing line. Again, after Christmas, put the plant back up and no one will be the wiser!
Decorate your tree with your cats in mind.
When you begin to decorate, leave the lower section of the tree bare of decorations at first to avoid temptation by your cat to play. When you begin to add ornaments, start a third of the way up. After a few days, add ornaments to the bottom section moving downward, but do not complete the tree just yet. Wait a few days to finish decorating. This will again give the cats time to adjust to the sparkling decorations before you finish adding ornaments to the tree where they will be in paws reach.
It is important to keep your felines in mind when choosing tree decorations and ornaments. Choose those that won’t be too tempting for your cats. Decorations that dangle a lot or are really lightweight are really tempting. Try to find ornaments that are heavier and don’t dangle a great deal. For example, shiny tinsel is enticing to cats and lightweight, but it is extremely dangerous, especially if swallowed.
Before putting the lights on your tree, coat the cords with Bitter Apple to prevent your kitties from chewing on them. You can also thread the cord of your lights through a piece of PVC tubing right where it plugs into the wall to further prevent your cats from chewing it. Since PVC tubing is typically white in color, you can paint the tubing a dark green so it isn’t noticeable.
Hang your ornaments with ribbon or decorative cording instead of using ornament hooks. Ornament hooks can be very dangerous to pets that may chew or swallow them. Coat the ribbon or decorative cording with Bitter Apple so your cats won’t chew them. The ornaments can then be tied securely to the tree.
When in doubt, distract.
If your cat shows an interest in the tree, place a corrugated cardboard scratching post nearby. You can also grow some ‘kitty greens’ for them (i.e. cat grass or catnip if you usually give your cat catnip) and place them near the tree. If you place things like the cardboard or ‘kitty greens’ near the tree, the cat will tend to be less interested in chewing or climbing the tree and more interested in the cardboard or ‘kitty greens’.
Source: ARL – Animal Rescue League of Iowa, Inc. 2018 – https://www.arl-iowa.org/