Please find below some useful tips in form of a Guest Post by the team from Pets at Home:
Cats versus Christmas Trees
Christmas trees and cats enjoy a special relationship when the festive period rolls around – the thrill of clambering up a tree in the warmth and comfort of their own homes is almost too much for any cat to resist. And with the added bonus of colourful balls and tassels to bat down and play with, who could blame them for wreaking havoc on the decorations?
Unfortunately, a cat’s trademark loveable curiosity means that those seeking the fresh, piney smell of a real Christmas tree should probably think again – pine needles can be harmful to cats in a number of ways, from their physical sharpness to the toxicity of some types. An artificial tree will be much more compatible with your festive feline’s health, but they still won’t be able to resist clambering up!
There’s loads of advice out there on keeping a kitty away from the tree – spraying your tree with citronella may keep a cat away, for example, but it won’t make them particularly happy either! So we’ve got some simple tips for keeping them out of the artificial branches and away from the ornaments without having to be a Grinch about the whole thing.
First of all, position your tree carefully, and ensure it’s secure. Preferably as far away from sofas, shelves, curtains – anything your cat can use as a stepping stone or launch pad to getting tangled up in tinsel – as possible.
Next, protect your tree from ground assaults. You can buy fancy Christmas tree defenders that will block the lowest branches from reach, halting climbing missions in their tracks, but for a simple home solution, wrapping tinfoil around the bottom should keep cats away – they won’t be able to climb up, and they shouldn’t even try if they’ve ever encountered foil before – many cats don’t like the way it feels on their claws and paws. Also, it’s shiny! So not totally out of character for Christmas.
When it comes to decorating the tree, do so with your cat out of the room – if they have a chance to get familiar with decorations while they’re spread over the floor, then they’ll be more inclined to go after them when they’re up on the tree. Anything delicate or valuable should be placed higher up, where it’s harder to reach – as should tinsel, which is easily grabbed and pulled, resulting in a mess at best, and a felled tree at worst!
When it comes to lights, cover wires to stop them turning into toys – whether you tape them down, or run them through cardboard tubes, it’s best to keep them out of claws’ (or mouths’) reach.
Be wary of other items that can be harmful to cats. Hanging chocolate treats will be toxic to cats, as will spray-on snow. Tinsel can be rough, so pick something soft or avoid it altogether – but don’t go for ribbons as a replacement, as they can be choking hazards if they’re too small.
Finally, the easiest way to keep your cat away from the tree is to provide ample distractions – an alternative Christmassy cat playground on the other side of the room, with safe festive treats just waiting to be played with by an excitable festive feline, will see your tree quickly forgotten. Merry Christmas, to you and your cats!
For more advice about caring for your cat, visit Pets at Home’s cat nutrition website here.