Previously published on Ciao
Christmas is a time of year for joy and fun and entertainment, but it is also a time when cats can do a lot of mess when it comes to Christmas trees. When my son was six years old we had two cats. I would go to pick him up from school and by the time we got back home which was roughly an hour later, the Christmas tree and all the decorations were down on the floor. I was so tired of picking up the tree and cleaning up the mess that I took my son aside and said we have two options available to us at this point, we can get rid of the tree or get rid of the cats. My son made the decision to get rid of the tree.
Of course not everyone will want to go through such drastic measures at Christmas time and there are other ways of keeping your cats safe from the dangers of the Christmas trees, keeping your house clean and keeping your sanity.
You might find you have a full time job on your hands just trying to keep your cats away from the tree though, but if you are serious, here are some ways to do it:
If you have a real tree, you will want to hide the base of the tree so that the cat will not be tempted to drink the water and getting ill from the bacteria settling in it. You can purchase a metal foil skirting for the tree. It is said that cats do not like to walk on metal foil and these little skirts can be very colorful and blend in with the holiday season.
Make sure that mistletoe or anything with berries, or tinsel that a cat would like to nibble on is high above the reach of the cat. The bristles on the tree the berries, tinsel etc may poison the cat or give it high blood pressure.
Keep treats and food away from the tree so the cat will not be tempted to investigate the tree; cats are curious creatures.
Do not have anything dangling from the tree; we all know how cats love to play with strings. They can also strangle themselves.
Do not leave lights on especially flashing lights to draw attention to the tree and the cat’s curiosity.
Do not have glass ornaments that can break and shatter and embed in the cats paws causing infection, bleeding, lameness, or cut the cat’s throat if they swallow the broken pieces.
Do not use chocolate ornaments or leave anything chocolate like an open gift box on or around the tree as chocolate is toxic for both cats and dogs.
Make sure there are no dangling electrical chords in view, if the chords are bitten and short circuit they can kill your cat and set your house on fire. Tape them on the wall away from view.
Keep your tree far enough away from an open heating system where the bristles and branches can touch against the heater and overheat or fall close enough to heater if the cats knock the whole tree down.
Make sure your tree is firmly planted in place and not flimsy enough to topple over, if the cat should jump on it like mine did. You can purchase a tree with a larger base so that if the tree tips forward, if the cat jumps on it, it will not fall over. You may have to tie the tree to the wall, or tie the tip of the treetop to a hook attached to the ceiling to keep it steady.
Keep wrapping paper and bags away from the tree because cats love to play with them and the shininess will attract their attention.
You can ask your pet store or vet for sprays that cats do not like the smell of to put around your tree; some suggest orange peel scent, or vinegar as an example.
Don’t be afraid to spray your cat with water when you are home if he/she goes near the tree, a little cat training can go along way.
A little bit of preparation, a lot of hard work and a job well done may let you keep your tree and your cats this Christmas season.