How to Keep Your Cat Out of the Christmas Tree
Don’t let your feline treat your evergreen like Mt. Everest
Things can quickly go from “O, Tannenbaum” to “Oh, no!” when a curious cat decides to climb the Christmas tree. These tips, from feline veterinarian Elizabeth Colleran, DVM, of California’s Chico Hospital for Cats, can help your furry friend and your fir live in harmony.
"What, this old tree?" Because cats are territorial, they’re compelled to inspect anything that invades their space. Consider putting up the tree but leaving it undecorated for a few days so your cat can get used to — and ultimately bored by — its presence. A smaller tree is easier to ignore. So is a fake one — no woodsy scent. (If you get a fake one, make sure it’s made of nontoxic materials.) (Photo: Brightside)
"Not a cat condo." Choose a spot for your Christmas tree that’s less accessible to your cat by thinking like her. “If it’s next to the couch or a chair back, those look like good places to jump from,” Colleran says. An isolated corner is your best bet for a tree as long as it isn't near a fire source.
"No shiny stuff here." Tinsel is shiny, stringy and flutters in the slightest of breezes, a combo that’s guaranteed to get Kitty’s attention. “Cats react to tinsel like a shiny little mouse tail,” Colleran says. Plus, if your cat “catches” a strand and swallows it, she could wind up with an intestinal blockage requiring expensive surgery to fix. Put the shiny, breakable ornaments up high where your cat won’t be as tempted by them. (In case she is, affix ornaments securely with wire or twist ties rather than rely on flimsy hooks.)
"Wires? What wires?" If you've strung lights on your tree, put the wires deep into the tree so they're not so tantalizing. Tape the end of the cord to the floor or wall.
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"That stinks." Most cats hate the smell of citrus, so tuck a few lemon-scented air fresheners into the lower branches of the tree, or spritz them with citronella. Colleran suggests decorating the base of the tree with pinecones sprayed with citronella. Not only will they look seasonally appropriate, the texture will be unappealing to a feline as well as the smell. If the humans in your home are repelled by citronella, bitter apple also does the trick and is less odiferous, says Colleran.
"Foiled again!" A tree “skirt” made of aluminum foil is another way to keep cats from padding too close. “They hate the texture under their feet,” Colleran says. Bonus: The shiny foil will reflect the tree lights and add an extra measure of festivity.
"Presents under the tree, but nothing for me." If your cat's getting a catnip toy, don’t stick it under the tree. Your cat should have to wait for Santa to arrive like everyone else.