Have you finally stopped putting up your Christmas tree the moment you became a cat parent? Well, don’t give up just, yet. Chances are you might not have fully exhausted your options on how to keep cats away from Christmas tree.
Hopefully, with the help of this article, this holiday season would be the year that you could be decorating your tree again.
Finally, for the first time in forever, there’ll be sparkling lights, Christmas balls, and other colorful ornaments hanging joyfully on your tree.
Also Read: How to Get Cat Out of a Tree
7 Tips on How to Cat Proof Your Christmas Tree
Cats can be attracted to large trees filled with shiny objects. Some may even climb at them, crush them or steal the ornaments.
And we can’t blame our feline companions for just being themselves. Cats are curious explorers; so, it’s already expected that decorating a tree during the holidays can be quite a challenge if your cat is in the home.
However, with a few modifications, you could still enjoy this festive decoration while keeping your cat and tree safe.
Here are some tips to keep your cats happy and safe, and at the same time keep your tree standing tall throughout the holiday season:
1. Choose Your Tree Wisely
When buying the tree, it’s best to consider a fake one. The sap of living Christmas trees could poison your pets, and ingestion of resin from a pine tree or fir needle could cause stomach damage or nausea in cats and dogs.
Also, a real tree has pine needles that can be dangerous for your pet. On top of that, a living tree also needs water or food additives to keep it fresh, as well as other fertilizer products or artificial chemicals that can expose your cat to unhealthy preservatives and compounds.
By avoiding real trees you are also keeping your cats away from serious health damage which may result from toxic poison if your kitty drank the water.
Some people also use aspirin to prolong the life of their trees. If your cat ingests aspirin from tree water, he’ll be in danger of bleeding from his stomach and intestinal wounds.
Considering all of these dangers, we could say that the best Christmas tree for homes with cats could be a small artificial tree (e.g. tabletop tree) that can be closed in another room when you are traveling.
So, if the tree falls on your cat even while you are around, it’s less likely to hurt him. And of course, a smaller tree is cheaper and easier to decorate and disengage after the holidays.
2. Defend the Base of the Tree
As cliché as it can be but anything that doesn’t have a strong and stable foundation can be easily toppled by external forces – and in this case, by a cat’s jump or playful antics.
And one simple way to protect the base of your tree is by wrapping the tree stand or trunk and the base with aluminum foil.
Many cats have been known to hate the sensation of foil on their paw skin and the crinkling sound it makes if they walk on it.
And for your cats’ safety, don't be tempted to put commercial training mats (shock mats) or prickly pads in the trunks to keep your pets out from the tree.
Instead, you can spray apple cider vinegar to a few pine cones and place them at the base of the tree. Cats usually hate the scent, so, they will most likely steer away from the area.
3. Secure Your Tree
Make sure you have stability and strength around your tree. Get a tree stand with a wide base that is less susceptible to topple due to the additional weight or jostling of your cat.
You may use a smaller piece of rope or another thin but strong rope and secure the tree to a wall bolt using a small eye bolt.
You should also position your tree away from launching zones, such as furniture, where your cat can jump from towards the peak of your Christmas tree.
4. Make the Tree Less Attractive (to your cat)
Never use tinsel — cats are particularly attracted to its thin and shiny character. This popular Christmas tree ornament is cheap, flashy, and appealing, but it can be a choking hazard for cats. Instead, go for other safer decors such as paper, wood, burlap, or felt.
You should also use a very secure way of attaching the ornaments to the tree— do not use regular metal ornament hooks because: (1) they are not very secure and (2) present an ingestion/puncture hazard for cats.
Use twist-ties (like those found in bread packets) or plastic ornament hooks, instead. You should be cautious however and keep the tie fast and securely attached.
5. Consider a Tree with Less Area to Play
Pencil trees are great for someone without much room to decorate and even less to store. They can also be an alternative in keeping your cats at bay because there's no space to climb.
6. Don’t Be in a Hurry to Decorate Your Tree
Before decorating the tree, give it enough time to rest for a few days. Doing so can help keep your cat get busy with it for some time until he gets bored and used to it.
So, go ahead and set up your tree, but don’t decorate just, yet. Let your cat investigate it for a few days, and hopefully, he will lose interest in it.
7. Think About Your Cat When Choosing Your Decorations
If your tree is full of sparky skeletons it will hardly matter how much stinky repellent you spray at them.
For cats to be more comfortable with Christmas tree decorations, do not put breakable lights on the lowest side of the tree. Also, if possible, keep a few branches in your tree away from a potential launching area, such as a piece of furniture.
It’s also safer to place ornaments where your cat can hardly reach, such as the top and center of the tree, instead of the branches. This also applies to the lights in case you decide to add them to your tree.
If your cat attempts to chew the wires, it’s best to remove them than risk your cat’s safety. Dangling electrical cables invite kittens to be active and eat them. If cats bite through cords the result could cause burns or electrocution.
For added protection, use cord covers and tape the cords to the wall from the outlet to the tree to keep them out of harm's way. You should also keep off the lights before you get to sleep and before leaving the house.
Additionally, avoid using decorations that your cat can choke on, such as real candles, and small shiny objects.
And to be sure, avoid using fake snow, which may contain harmful chemicals, as well as plants and vegetables that can be toxic for your feline companion. These include chocolates, mistletoe, poinsettias, and lilies, among others.
The Dangers of Christmas Trees for Cats
Cats are animals that are habitable and territorial, too. And cats love Christmas trees because they appeal to their instincts which started before they were domesticated.
Marking is a typical cat reaction towards the introduction of a Christmas tree in the home. According to some people, they will target Christmas trees because of the unfamiliar smells.
However, as mentioned earlier, trees, especially the real ones, can be dangerous for cats. The water in the bowl that contains the tree may contain harmful chemicals or aspirin that can cause serious damage to your cat’s health.
So, if you do use a real tree, you should cover the water bowl with a tree skirt and put some presents on top to deter your cat from drinking the water inside the bowl.
Also, broken Christmas tree ornaments can cause cuts on your cat’s paws and mouth when he ends up chewing them out of curiosity.
Strings, tinsel, ribbon, and yarn either on the tree or as part of the wrappings of the presents around the tree, can be a choking hazard and can also cause intestinal obstruction that requires surgical intervention.
Moreover, chewing on sharp pine needles isn’t safe and healthy for cats. It can cause cuts on their mouth, and they may cause gastrointestinal distress or toxicity when swallowed.
And of course, there also comes the danger that the tree may fall on your cat once he starts climbing on it relentlessly.
Tips on How to Keep Cats Away From Christmas Tree
Steering your cat away from your Christmas tree may be easier said than done, but it can be done with just a little bit of patience, hard work, and tried and tested practices.
Here are some easy ways that you can try to keep your feline friend away from your tree:
- Use a deterrent spray on your tree. Sometimes foil is unlikely to stop your cat from exploring your tree, so, you can get extra help from the citrus spray. Some cats hate citrus scents so spray some water with citronella oil. You can also mist your tree with vinegar or bitter apple if the citrus spray doesn’t work. Fresh lemons and orange peels can be placed around the base of your tree or beneath branches. Simply rotate the peels once or twice a month so the fresh smell will stay. When using a deterrent, though, you should not spray it directly into your cat because it can be overpowering to his soft nose and discourage it from breathing. Using a citrus spray or any deterrent spray could lead to respiratory irritation to sensitive cats such as asthmatic cats. So, it’s best to avoid them if your cat has respiratory issues.
- Provide better perches for your cat. Cat naturally seeks out higher perches where they can enjoy safely and comfortably while resting and looking around. Despite their generally lazy attitude, they often have extra energy to go somewhere to play or climb. So, it helps to introduce and get your cat excited about the cat tower around the same time you bring up the Christmas tree. Thus, your cat will be more interested in your new pet tower than in your tree.
- Place a sturdy sisal fabric-covered scratching post in the same room where your tree is situated. This can divide your cat’s attention and it can provide him with a positive and safer alternative to scratching or climbing your Christmas tree. But again, don’t put the post near the tree so that your cat may not use it as a launching site so he can have a better and higher landing on your tree.
- When your cat attempts to climb or chew on the tree, make a quick noise by clapping your hand or stomping your feet.
- Provide an alternative outlet for your cat, such as a cat grass near the tree that she can chew on, and don’t forget to praise or reward him with some treats if he does.
- The holiday season may be a busy time of the year for you, but don’t forget to give special attention to your cat and have an interactive play now and then. Once your cat is bored, he is more likely to exhaust his energy by running around and climbing into your Christmas tree.
- If your cat won't leave the tree in place despite what you do, put it somewhere that he will not be able to reach. You could also block your tree from your cat using an exercise pen or a gate. You can also add a few little bells to the ornaments to jive in with the Christmas spirit. The sound of the bell will alert you even more quickly when you think your cat was stuck in the branch.
Don’t Stress Too Much
It is good to accept that cats can climb trees wherever and whenever they want. Life is unpredictable with feline companions and that's more fun than you think!
Now that you have your decorations set, it's time to begin shopping and preparing for the holidays. Do what it takes to make a beautiful and safe tree.
How do I stop my cat from attacking my Christmas tree?
You can try placing orange peels at the base of the tree, using an orange or citrus-scented spray-on branch, or putting apple cider vinegar-coated pine cones near the tree. There are also ready-made cat deterrents available at most pet stores. Cover the trunk of your live Christmas tree with aluminum foil.
Are real Christmas trees toxic to cats?
Real Christmas trees are potentially more dangerous to your cat than artificial ones. This is because the needles on a real tree are sharp and can pierce or puncture the skin of an overly curious cat, while the pine needles themselves are irritating to mildly toxic if chewed (depending on the species of tree used).
Do cat scat mats work?
Scat mats work to ward off other critters too. Despite their title, cat scat mats don't only work to catch cats off guard – they also work to ward off any other medium-sized animals too.
Why are cats attracted to Christmas trees?
First of all, you brought something new and fragrant into their territory. When cats are in familiar territory, they often want to investigate anything new! The tree has outdoor smells and bark to scratch so there is plenty to investigate. Christmas trees are also like massive perches, and cats love to climb up them.
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