My favourite part about the holidays is putting up our Christmas tree, it’s something we do as a family, and it brings back old memories when you open up the box of decorations and see the baby handprints and macaroni ornaments.
I usually put my tree up a month before Christmas so we can enjoy it longer, but this year we have a 5-month-old kitten and she is quite the troublemaker (her name is Clawdia for a reason). I will often find her on top of the cupboards or climbing trees and fences in the yard. So I asked myself, “How am I going to keep her out of my Christmas tree this year?”
The first thing to consider is the location of your tree. If you can, it’s best to put the tree in a room that can be closed off, so you don’t have to worry about it while you are away. Easier said than done, I have a small open concept home, so that is not an option for me. You can try putting the tree in a corner but be mindful of the furniture near it; you don’t want to come home to your cat using your couch as a launching pad to get up to those higher branches. It’s recommended that you anchor your tree to prevent it from falling down. This can be done with some fishing line and a small hook; you can anchor it to a wall or the ceiling.
Once your tree is up, I usually wait about a week before I start decorating it just to see how the cat reacts to the tree itself. If you find she is chewing at the branches you can try using a spray deterrent, something orange or citrus scented as cats hate the smell, or an anti-chew/lick spray (like Bitter Apple). I would also have a spray bottle of water close to the tree in case you catch her trying to chew or climb it.
If you have a real tree, just remember that tree sap is toxic to cats and it’s best to cover the water at the bottom of the tree. Some tree stands come with a cover, and sometimes you have to make your own. You can try using double-sided tape and weave it over the opening, so there are holes large enough to water the tree with a watering can but small enough that the cat can’t get her face in it. Also having the sticky side up will likely deter her from coming back.
Now that the tree has been up for a week and there were no major injuries (to tree or cat), we can decorate! I usually start with the lights. You can coat the wires with the same scented deterrent as the tree to hopefully keep her from chewing at them. If your kitty is still trying to chew the wires, then I would either remove the lights or only use them on the top half of the tree. Be sure to turn them off when you are not home. Check the wires regularly to make sure there are no bite marks in them if you find bite marks be sure to check your cat’s mouth and face for signs of a burn, if you suspect your cat may have had an electrical shock, please contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. We also try to avoid twinkle lights as this can attract your kitty to the tree.
As for ornaments, I always put my nice glass ornaments at the top of the tree as well as any ornaments that have ribbon or anything hanging from them, and I put my plastic ornaments near the bottom.
Things to avoid:
- Edible ornaments – popcorn or a cranberry garland
- Tinsel or garland – can cause an intestinal blockage or choking if ingested
- Hooks – I use ribbon or twist ties to hang my ornaments
- Artificial Snow – it’s toxic to cats if ingested
- The bottom branches – I usually only decorate the top 2/3rds of my tree (yes, it looks a little silly, but I have not lost an ornament yet, and we have had several cats over the years)
Good luck and Happy Holidays!
Written by: Cindy Plant, CCR, Inventory Manager