Keep Your Cat from Becoming a Tree Ornament

Keep your Cat from becoming a Tree Ornament

The holidays come with enough added stress that you don’t also have to worry about keeping your cat from redecorating your Christmas tree. This beautiful holiday tradition can often prove just too irresistible to our feline companions and the occasional dog too. Teaching a cat to peacefully co-exist with a Christmas tree is a challenging but certainly feasible undertaking. Putting the tree behind a chain link fence might work, but isn’t exactly festive. One catalogue does sell an upside-down tree which can be hung from the ceiling. Not sure if that would have your guests standing on their heads though. For we traditionalists, here’s a few techniques that can help:

  1. Artificial or real? Some people think that cats are less likely to climb artificial trees but most cats think it doesn’t matter at all. Live trees are not toxic if cats chew on them, but the needles can be irritating and causing drooling and nausea. Artificial material can be toxic and may also lead to impactions and obstructions.
  2. Give careful consideration to placement of the tree. Make sure it is not near ledges, shelves or furniture that can serve as easy launching pads into the upper branches. If possible, place the tree in a room which can be closed off when no one is around to supervise.
  3. Anchor the tree securely. If your cat should breach your defenses and climb the tree you want to make sure it isn’t able to fall over. Use a very heavy base. Some can be nailed to the floor. It may also be practical to wire the tree to a hook or nail on the wall.
  4. If possible, it may help to leave your tree in place, but undecorated for a few days so the cat can adjust and eventually lose interest.
  5. A few tricks to discouraging climbing: wrap the bottom trunk in aluminum foil; spray the bottom portion of the tree with citronella; leave orange peels around the base or spray the skirt with orange oil; place pine cones sprayed with either around the base; make an Elizabethan collar for the trunk of the tree; use an scat mat which provides a gentle shock; tie a junkyard dog to the base.
  6. Make sure all ornaments are attached firmly. Leave the bottom few branches bare or at least without enticing dangling ornaments. Never use tinsel!
  7. Wrap wires with tape or aluminum foil to discourage chewing. Can also use one of the above sprays on wiring.
  8. Consider decorating only with cat-face shaped ornaments so that when your cat does make it up, at least it won’t look out of place.

Don’t fret. If you share your house with animals, keeping them from the tree is one of the joys of the season! If this all fails, you can always display a Christmas Tree screen saver on the television.

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  • Blog Author

    Dr. James Zgoda

    Education: University of Pennsylvania, B.A. Animal Behavior 1980 Rutgers Univ., M.S. Zoology 1981 Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, D.V.M., 1985 Owner and chief veterinarian of Otterkill Animal Hospital in Campbell Hall, NY ... Read Full
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