I have been wanting a new Christmas tree for years to better fill my front room's high ceilings. Last year, I simply made do by putting my shorter tree on a table. This year, with the addition of two cats to the family, I had visions of them trying to climb up the tree skirt dangling over the makeshift table to get to the ornamental enticements. I knew the whole thing would come down with a crash, shattering all my ornaments.
Replacing ornaments would be more expensive than a new tree... right?
With that thought in mind, investing in a safer alternative seemed like a good plan! I pulled my new tree out of the box (which the cats promptly thanked me for their new cardboard cave) and set it up, amazed at the quick new assembly design. Pre-lit! What a grand idea!
The cats were amazed at this spectacle, watching from a distance. When it was all done, with fragile ornaments at the top, and sturdy ones at the bottom, Ms. Boo came over to investigate. She's only a year and a half old, and I don't know much of her back story other than the fact that she had been back to the shelter twice. So this very well could be her first exposure to the wonder of Christmas!
She started to take a sniff, which was fine, and then a munch, which was not fine! I am a pretty mellow, quiet person, so hearing me react with a strong "no" with a loud clap really caught her attention. So far, to my knowledge, she has resisted further assaults on the tree, but she and her sister kitty love it. The don't touch it, but they linger under its branches all the time! Why, they didn't even come up to bed the first night, because they wanted to just hang out under this wonderful thing!
I posted their photo to Facebook and got several replies about what could be done to keep cats and Christmas decor safe from each other, so I knew I had hit on the perfect Feline Friday topic. One friend commented that her cat actually seems to enjoy getting sprayed by the water bottle, so that correction solution was out for her. A coworker suggested adding a little vinegar to the spray bottle water to make it more unpleasant to the cat.
I am not exactly an expert, just being a year into our kitty adventure, but I thought we could learn together about dealing with holiday hazards with cats.
The Trouble with Trees
I was relieved to read that artificial trees are actually safer for cats, which made me feel even better about my purchase. Apparently, real pine needles can puncture intestines if eaten and are also mildly toxic, so needles need to be swept up daily. Cats must not be allowed to drink the tree water in case pesticides and preservatives have been used on the tree that will leech back into the water and make your cat sick. A covered stand is safest.
Ornaments and tinsel look pretty irresistible to a cat, and probably look similar to the cat toys they already have. So keep tinsel and fragile branches up high and discourage cats with a loud sound or water spray for persistent cats, should they try to climb the tree.
Unplug any decorative lights when they aren't being monitored. Flashing lights may entice cats more than constant lights, so watch how your cat responds to your decor. Since a a bite through a wire could result in a fatal shock, consider using a bitter apple spray on the wires to discourage cats from biting them. A light misting with a citronella spray on the lower branches also makes the tree unappealing to cats.
Make sure there is plenty of space between your tree and furniture to keep cats from batting off ornaments, or even trying a flying leap! It's also advised to keep your cats shut away from the tree at night to ensure they don't get into unsupervised trouble. (Oops.)
Since my tree is taller now, I didn't have enough tinsel to reach the bottom. Apparently this is a good thing, because tinsel can cause intestinal blockages if ingested. So I guess that worked out well, even if it was intentional!
This might be a good time to stock up on some nice cat toys and give them to your kitties even before Christmas. After all, they can't read the calender, so it should be okay to spoil them prematurely. Or pretend it's an Advent adventure where they get a new toy every day! Regardless, providing safe diversions are a positive way of keeping kitty out of trouble.
Do you have tips for keeping cats safe around Christmas decor?