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If you have a cat, you don’t need us to tell you how challenging it can be to keep your cat out of restricted areas of the house. Cats are slinky little creatures. So even though you have set up a nice little perimeter around the Christmas tree to keep them out, cats have a way of squeezing through anyway—or leaping over the obstacles. What can be done, short of hanging the tree from the ceiling?
We have compiled a list of suggestions based on the experiences of other cat owners for how to keep both cats and Christmas trees safe during the holiday season. Here are some suggestions for how to cat-proof your Christmas tree so you don’t have to give up the idea of having one this holiday season.
Feline Deterrent Strategies
You can try to spray a diluted vinegar solution onto the base of the tree, or apply hot sauce or camphor—all of which are distasteful to cats.
There are also some commercial cat deterrent spray products that are made specifically for the purpose of repelling cats. Keep in mind, however, that the problem with using sprays and solutions is that the repellent scent will eventually fade and will need to be reapplied regularly. Otherwise, your cat will become accustomed to the scent and will overcome her aversion to the product. You may need to try several types of repellents before you find one that is effective.
Motion-detection devices that make noise can be very effective at keeping your cat away from the tree while you are not in the room, although some cats will acclimate to the noise and explore the tree anyway. Cats are such particular, individual animals that no single plan will work for every cat.
The Petsafe SSSCAT pet deterrent spray has a motion-activated sensor at the top that can detect movement up to three feet away. Place it near the base of your tree (ideally with the tree in a corner), and it will emit a harmless spray into the air, making a hissing noise that keeps cats away.
Use Obstacles to Separate Christmas Trees and Cats
You can surround the tree with a barricade or objects, like a cat pen, to obstruct access to the Christmas tree. Cat pens like the MidWest exercise pen with step-thru door can help to prevent the cat from going under the tree and climbing into it, but unfortunately, this will not stop aerial attacks.
Try aluminum foil or double-sided tape, materials that cats cannot dig their claws into, around the bottom of the tree. This will work with some cats.
Best Practice for the Tree Base
When choosing the type of tree stand you will use, try to find one that has a covered water reservoir, or use something—like aluminum foil or plastic wrap, to cover the reservoir so your cat cannot get into the water. Before you begin decorating the tree with shiny baubles and fragile ornaments, allow your cat to become accustomed to the curious new greenery in the room.
Stabilizing the Tree and Securing Ornaments
There are ways to increase the tree’s stability. Heavier stands make it more difficult to topple the tree. Alternatively, you can try tethering the tree to the wall or ceiling using fishing line and hooks. First, place the tree in a location away from other furniture. Place the sturdier ornaments—the ones most likely to be swatted by little paws—on the lowest branches, and on the higher branches, place your more fragile ornaments.
When hanging ornaments, make sure to close the end of the hook so that the ornament cannot slip off. On the other end of the hook, close the loop tightly around the branch so that it cannot fall off if the tree moves or if the ornament is swatted at.
Christmas Light Safety
Lights placed on the tree should be unplugged at night, and when they are plugged in, check them periodically to make sure they do not have any frayed or otherwise damaged areas, which occurs when cats chew on the wiring.
Electric shock in cats is a common holiday mishap for just this reason, so if your cat begins to drool, have difficulty breathing, or shows any signs of mental or physical impairment, check the wires immediately and get medical care for your cat if you believe it may be suffering from electric shock.
Cats and Christmas Tree Tinsel
Two other major hazards are tinsel and angel hair. For a lot of people, these little strings of silver are traditional holiday decorations that are difficult to give up. But if you are a cat owner, giving up tinsel is required if you want to stay out of the veterinary emergency room. Ingested tinsel will lead to fatal intestinal obstructions and/or choking.
But don’t be discouraged when decorating your home for the holidays, because there are ways to ensure a safe Christmas tree for cats. And there are plenty of decorations you can use to cheer up the home that won’t break and won’t pose pet safety hazards for your beloved feline.