When it comes time to put up your Christmas tree, whether you just picked up a fresh one or are planning on putting up the same artificial one you use every year, it's only inevitable that your cat will be at least somewhat interested in what's going on. Cats are undoubtedly inquisitive animals, and adding something as large as a Christmas tree to the living room definitely won't go unnoticed.
Of course, some cats are naturally more curious than others, and yours may not pay much attention to the new addition in the living room, but if your cat is feisty and constantly getting into everything, Christmas might be a little more difficult. After all, shiny, dangly ornaments and blinking lights can be hard for even the most mild-mannered kitties to resist. They won't mean to swat your favorite Christmas ornament to the ground when they decide to investigate the tree situation, and they will only be trying to find a good place to nap on the tree skirt when they nearly knock over the entire tree. Sometimes, cat lovers just have to know when to save their pets from themselves.
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From making sure all your prized ornaments stay intact to keeping your cat from climbing the tree, cat-proofing your Christmas tree can be quite the task if you have a particularly stubborn cat or a cat who is a climber. It doesn't have to be a deal breaker for a cat owner's holiday spirit, though. After all, your Christmas tree is only up for a few weeks, but your cat is with you every day. Here are 10 ways to cat-proof your Christmas tree so you both can enjoy a stress-free holiday season.
1. Hang Ornaments Up High
Keep your most prized and precious family ornaments out of your cat's reach by only hanging them on the top half of your tree. Fill in the lower branches with the less breakable ornaments. This way, you'll still be able to see all of your favorite ornaments, but your kitty won't be tempted to swat at the fragile ones. In the event that something does get broken, be sure to clean it up quickly so that no one gets injured by a stray piece of glass. If you're still nervous about some ornaments getting broken, display them safely on a bookshelf instead.
2. Location Is Key
If you know the addition of a Christmas tree is already going to be appealing to your curious cat, don't make it any easier for her to climb it if you can help it. The best way to keep your cat from climbing the Christmas tree is to make it nearly impossible for her to get inside.
Choose a spot in your house for the tree that isn't too close to any furniture that your cat might be able to use to aid in reaching the tree. Pieces like couches, end tables and bookshelves can all act like a personal step ladder for your kitty. When in doubt, a corner is always a good option since the wall will brace the tree if your cat decides to climb in it anyway.
3. Go With an Artificial Tree
Choose an artificial tree if you want the safest and easiest option for your pets. A fake tree won't shed nearly as many pine needles as a real tree will every time your cat rubs against it, and it will completely eliminate the possibility of him getting splinters in his paws from scratching at the tree trunk.
If you just can't get over the idea of missing out on the smell of a real tree, consider a pine-scented candle or opt for a fresh wreath that can be safely hung out of reach instead. Did we mention that an artificial one also means there won't be a tempting dish of water readily available to drink at the base of the tree either? Talk about a win-win situation!
4. Distract Her With New Cat Toys
When you put up your Christmas tree this year, plan to have a few new cat toys set aside for your kitty to enjoy. This ensures she will be too preoccupied to be worried about the new decor. The added distraction of a shiny new toy should last long enough that you'll be able to get the tree up in peace.
Try to make sure the toy you choose doesn't resemble a Christmas ornament, though, so balls and bells are out. Stick to toys like stuffed mice, feather wands and yummy treats so there is no mistaking what's off limits to her and what's not.
5. Opt for Shatter-Proof Ornaments
Save yourself a reindeer-size headache this year by keeping all your tree decorations completely cat-proof. Opt for shatter-proof ornaments instead of your normal glass ones. Shatter-proof ornaments come in all shapes and sizes, so it's the "purrfect" excuse to try a fun new theme or color scheme when decorating the tree.
Save your glass ornaments and baubles for a small tabletop tree, display them in a large glass vase or just keep them packed away. Anything is better than getting frustrated about broken ornaments when you could have easily avoided the whole situation.
6. Make Sure You Have a Solid Base
A wobbly Christmas tree is just asking for trouble. Before you start decorating, make sure that the base of your Christmas tree, whether you have a real one or an artificial one, is standing straight and secure in the tree stand. If your kitty does decide to brave it all and jump in the tree, the last thing you'll want is the whole thing crashing down to the ground, ornaments and all.
It's also not a bad idea to give any of your pets – cats and dogs alike – time to get used to the tree. Put up the Christmas tree but wait a few days before adding any ornaments. If your pets are going to mess with the tree, it's likely going to happen in the first few days. Then, at least you'll know what you're dealing with before anything gets broken.
7. Don't Forget a Cat's Sense of Smell
If you're going to get your kitty a few presents this year, it's best to wait until the very last minute to wrap them and put them under the tree. This is especially true if the toys are filled with catnip. Cats have an impeccable sense of smell, and they'll be able to easily sniff out the catnip treats through even the thickest layers of cardboard and wrapping paper.
Your cat's keen sense of smell can also help you in deterring her from the Christmas tree. Typically, cats hate anything citrus-scented, so use that to your advantage. Dried orange-peel ornaments and citrus spray can help keep your curious kitty away while adding some rustic charm to your tree. You can also add a couple of drops of citronella essential oil to pine cones and place them throughout your tree.
8. Watch the Lights
One bite through a plugged-in set of Christmas lights is enough to do some serious damage to your feline friend, and that is definitely not on anyone's holiday wish list this year. You can help to keep your cat from chewing on the Christmas tree lights by making sure the strands are wrapped tightly around the inside of the tree. Then, just tuck any extra cord under the tree skirt.
If you're still worried about your cat getting into trouble when you're not looking or you just know that yours is obsessed with cords, make it easier on yourself and opt for battery-powered Christmas lights. Look for a set with a timer so you don't have to worry about turning them on and off every day, and you'll be able to enjoy your lights without a care.
9. Skip the Tinsel
It's going to be terribly hard for your cat to resist the small strands of shiny tinsel on the Christmas tree that billow in the wind of even the slightest movement. So, unless you want to spend all day shooing the cat away from the tree, just remove the temptation and skip it altogether. Leaving it out of your tree decor will not only help you to create a cat-proof Christmas tree but it could also keep your cat safe and save you from a hefty vet bill since ingesting strands of tinsel can cause some serious intestinal damage for your pet.
10. Create a Barrier
Keep your kitty from ever getting too close to the Christmas tree by creating a simple barrier around it with some empty boxes. Wrap a few large cardboard boxes in festive wrapping paper and stack them to form a barrier from the tree. This will keep your cat away from the Christmas tree while still keeping things festive. Place the boxes close together so your cat won't be able to squeeze between them.