December is a glorious time of year, often punctuated by putting up a Christmas tree in your home and decorating the house with festive ornaments and crafts. Many people enjoy having a full and fancy decorated Christmas tree in the room, but unfortunately, so does your cat.
Felines are naturally inquisitive and curious creatures, and frequently, they become obsessed with your decorations. A Christmas tree full of shiny and dangly things is exceptionally tempting for most cats, which can be hazardous. But fear not! We have a few helpful tips to keep your cat safe and out of the Christmas tree.
The 12 Tips for Getting Your Cat to Leave the Christmas Tree Alone
Follow the tips below for advice on how to help discourage your cat from bothering the Christmas tree and all your decorations.
1. Secure the Tree
Make sure your Christmas tree is securely anchored. You can use a sturdy tree stand and consider attaching it to a wall to prevent the tree from toppling over if your cat decides to climb it. Always use a solid base to help prevent it from falling over should they jump onto the tree.
2. Slow Down the Decorating Process
Cats, like young children, love anything brand new. They need to investigate it and examine it fully. Try leaving just the tree up undecorated for a few days for them to become accustomed to it. Once your kitty is used to the new green addition to the household, you might find they leave it alone because they’re used to it and no longer interested in it.
3. Go Smaller
Getting a smaller tree may be an option for you since it is less costly, requires less decorating, and is easier to keep away from your cat. They also provide a safer option for your kitty should the tree fall over if they climb or jump onto it.
4. Use Cat-Friendly Ornaments
Choose cat-friendly ornaments that are less likely to break or harm your cat if they are knocked off the tree or yanked on. Avoid using decorations that are small, sharp, easily breakable, or would cause a blockage in the digestive tract if eaten.
Use cat-safe deterrents, such as double-sided tape or aluminum foil. Cats often dislike the texture of tape and foil, and commercial pet-safe deterrent sprays are also available to use on the tree. These sprays are designed to help ward off your cat from going near your tree or any other item; however, always check with your veterinarian to ensure the product is safe for your specific cat.
6. Create a Barrier
Place a barrier around the tree to discourage your cat from getting too close. This can be a playpen, pet gate, or even a simple barricade made from cardboard.
7. Provide Alternative Entertainment
Make sure your playful feline has plenty of other toys and activities to keep them occupied. Interactive toys and puzzle feeders can be particularly engaging. If your cat is mentally and physically stimulated, they may be less interested in the Christmas tree.
8. Supervise and Redirect
Have your Christmas tree in a room that your cat only has access to if you’re there to supervise. Should you spot your cat approaching the tree, gently redirect their attention to a more appropriate toy or activity. Consistent positive reinforcement can help train them to associate their good and wanted behavior with rewards.
9. Minimal Decorating
You can reduce accidents by using minimal decorations on your tree and only decorating the top half. This decreases the amount of items that could potentially harm them and keeps them further out of their reach.
10. Avoid Tinsel and Garlands
Cats find the sparkle and movement of tinsel and garland far too tempting and interesting. Ingesting these items can lead to serious health issues, including intestinal blockages. It’s advisable to avoid using these decorations if you have a kitty, especially if they are curious cats.
11. Ensure Electrical Lights Out of Reach
Cats may be drawn to the fairy lights on the tree. Make sure to secure the electrical cords and keep them out of reach to prevent your cat from chewing on them, which can pose a risk of electrical shock. If you suspect they have chewed either the wire or a light, turn them off at the socket and phone your veterinarian immediately.
12. Avoid Other Toxic Plants
Some families also decorate the room with plants like holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias during the holidays. These plants can be toxic to cats if ingested. Keep them out of reach or choose pet-safe alternatives instead.
A Note About Real Christmas Trees
Real Christmas trees can pose an extra risk to cats, so it’s important to be aware of potential hazards and take precautions. Here are some considerations:
Needles and Sap
The needles of real Christmas trees can be sharp and may cause injury if ingested, jumped on, or stepped on. Additionally, the sap from the tree can be irritating to a cat’s skin and mouth. Make sure to clean up fallen needles regularly and consider using a tree skirt to help contain them.
If you use additives in the water for your Christmas tree, ensure they are pet-safe. Some tree preservatives contain chemicals that can be toxic to cats if they ingest them. In fact, it’s better to keep your cat as far away from the tree water as possible.
By being aware of these potential risks and taking preventive measures, you can help ensure a safe and festive holiday season for both your family and your feline companions. It can take trial and error to find the strategies that work best for you and your cat. If you have any concerns about specific decorations or plants, consult with your veterinarian for guidance.
Remember, every cat is unique, and for some cats, all the changes at home in the Christmas period can be stressful for them. Try to keep their routine the same as normal and give them a safe space they can retreat to if all the commotion gets too much for them. If you are worried about your cat’s behavior, consult with your veterinarian or a cat behaviorist for additional advice.
Featured Image Credit: Bogdan-Sonjachnyj, Shutterstock
- The 12 Tips for Getting Your Cat to Leave the Christmas Tree Alone
- 1. Secure the Tree
- 2. Slow Down the Decorating Process
- 3. Go Smaller
- 4. Use Cat-Friendly Ornaments
- 5. Deterrents
- 6. Create a Barrier
- 7. Provide Alternative Entertainment
- 8. Supervise and Redirect
- 9. Minimal Decorating
- 10. Avoid Tinsel and Garlands
- 11. Ensure Electrical Lights Out of Reach
- 12. Avoid Other Toxic Plants
- A Note About Real Christmas Trees