Each holiday period, many pet owners end up with destroyed Christmas trees, broken ornaments and holiday decorations, and sick or injured cats – just because the cat decided to climb the Christmas tree or chew on some tree branches.
Here are some guidelines and precautions you should take to protect your cat and your Christmas tree.
1. Pick the perfect spot for your tree. Preferably choose a corner, easier to secure the tree, and away from high furniture as you don’t want to make too easy for your cat to climb or jump on the tree. Also be sure that a power plug is near so you won’t have to use extra power cord that will run all over the area.
2. Tree area preparation. Cover the area of your tree with plastic sheeting or with a tree bag so it will be easier to pick it up at the end of the season and it will also collect all the pine needles. Ingestion of needles can cause vomiting and gastric irritation.
To keep your cat away from the tree you could spray some pinecones with citronella and stack them around the base of the tree. Cats don’t like to walk on pinecones and this trick can also be used for your houseplants. If pinecones are not available, you can also use orange peels placed under the tree, cats also hate the scent of oranges.
If you use natural tree, cover the base with a tree skirt to prevent your pet from drinking the water liquid can make your animal sick.
3. Tree preparation. Like with the citronella, you can also spray the branches of the tree with bitter apple which usually repels cats.
4. Secure the tree. Use a piece of high test fishing line to connect to the top of the tree to the ceiling. This will prevent from tipping. If the tree is placed in a corner, you could also use small hooks on both walls to secure your tree for falling if your cat finally passed through your previous “defense” and decided to climb on your Christmas tree.
5. Hide the electrical cords. Power cords always represent potential danger for cats especially the youngest that like to chew on anything. Plug the tree lights into a short indoor extension cord and tape the plug into the socket with electrical tape. Simply unplug the lights from the extension cord to turn off. Plug the tree lights into a short indoor extension cord and tape the plug into the socket with electrical tape. Simply unplug the lights from the extension cord to turn off.
6. Safe ornaments. Ensure that your ornaments don’t use hooks and prefer loop of string tied in a knot. Ornaments often fall from the tree and cats may catch or swallow the hooks.
There is no entirely pet-safe bulb, as any ornament can be ingested and cause an intestinal obstruction but a cat “safer” bulb would be made of plastic or wood. Don’t place glass bulbs on the lower limbs of your tree because if broken, cats can step on them and cut their feet or worse yet – treat the bulbs like a ball and chew on them causing them to break, resulting in mouth or throat trauma and bleeding. Many cat owners have learned the hard way not to place any ornaments on the lower limbs.
7. Tinsels or ribbons. Replace shiny tinsel and garland, that always attract cats and can get caught in their intestine if ingested, with big red velvet ribbons.
8. Presents. Cats always love to explore and they certainly don’t understand that all these gifts under the tree are not all meant for them and certainly not to be opened before Christmas. Beside the destruction of presents, there is always a risk of ingesting ornamental small ribbons or strings so keep all the presents in a safe until the last days or always supervise the area when your cat is investigating the tree.
9. Supervision and “training”. Nevertheless the safest thing to do would be to let your cat have access to the tree only under strict supervision and be positively encouraged to leave the tree alone. For persistent tree chewer or climber, you could always use a small spray bottle full of water near the tree. If your cats still go after the tree, a light spritz of water on their back and a firm “NO!” will get the point across.