How to Make a Christmas Tree Safe for Cats

Christmas tree

Ah, the holidays! A time for joy, family, and the annual cat vs. Christmas tree showdown. As a cat parent, you know that the moment you set up that tree, it becomes the Everest your feline friend never knew they needed to conquer. So, let’s embark on a jolly journey to make your tree both a festive spectacle and a safe playground for your curious cat. Here’s how to make your Christmas tree safe for cats in six easy steps. But first:

Why Do Cats Like Christmas Trees?

Cats are naturally curious creatures, and a Christmas tree is essentially an irresistible giant toy in their eyes. It offers alluring branches to climb, shiny ornaments to swat, and a cozy skirt to nap under. However, this holiday centerpiece can pose several hazards to your furry friend, from tumbling trees to toxic tinsel.

Step 1: Picking the Purr-fect Tree

Artificial vs. Real Trees: Let’s tackle the great tree debate. While real trees bring that authentic pine scent, they also drop needles that could be a snack of regret for Mr. Whiskers. Artificial trees, on the other hand, don’t shed and are a safer bet. They also last for years, making them a wallet-friendly option.

What natural Christmas tree is cat-safe?

Kitten under Christmas tree

The harsh reality is that no natural tree is completely cat-proof. All natural trees, like pines, firs, and spruces, have needles that can be harmful if ingested by cats. These needles can cause oral irritation, vomiting, and gastrointestinal issues.

If your heart is set on a natural tree, consider varieties like Douglas fir or white pine, which tend to have softer needles, but remember, there’s still a risk. There’s no natural Christmas tree that’s perfectly safe for cats, but some options are less risky.

Size Does Matter: Remember, the bigger the tree, the bigger the temptation (and the disaster). A smaller tree is not only adorable but also minimizes the chances of a feline-induced timber incident.

Step 2: The Art of Tree Placement

Finding Stable Ground: Your tree needs a base stronger than your cat’s midnight zoomies. Make sure it’s heavy and secure. If you’re feeling extra cautious, a discreet tether to the wall will keep the tree upright during feline investigations.

Let the Cat Get Bored First: Here’s a pro tip – set up your tree and let it stand decoration-free for a few days. This gives your cat time to lose interest (hopefully) before you add the shiny allure of ornaments.

Strategic Placement: Avoid setting up your tree near couches, shelves, or any launchpads your cat typically uses. A corner spot is ideal – it’s like a natural barrier.

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Step 3: Cat-Friendly Tree Decorating

Ornament Placement Is Key: Keep those sparkly temptations high up on the tree. Lower branches are prime targets for playful paws. And swap out metal hooks for secure ties – nobody wants a game of ‘fetch the ornament’ mid-holiday dinner.

Light It Up Safely: Cats and wires are a risky mix. Keep your lights wrapped towards the center of the tree and out of chew’s reach. Unplugging lights when not in use is a good habit – it’s like the cat version of childproofing.

Choosing Cat-Friendly Decor: Tinsel is a cat magnet but also a hazard. Opt for less shiny, more cat-indifferent decor. Think paper, wood, or vegan felt. These materials are less likely to become an emergency vet visit. And you probably want to skip using any glass or fragile decorations that could be a source of injury if (read: when) they get broken.

Step 4: The Base and Stand – More Than Just a Support Act

Cover That Base: Cats are curious about tree water (it must taste like Christmas, right?). Cover it with a tree skirt and maybe some strategically placed gifts to block access.

Sturdy Stand: A heavy-duty stand is your tree’s best friend. It provides stability and peace of mind. Remember, no strange concoctions in the water – plain water is just fine.

Cat attacking Christmas tree

This is what we would do if Mom and Dad let us play with the Christmas tree. #CatChristmas #ThisIsWhyWeCantHaveNiceThings

Winston & Joey

Step 5: Extra Layers of Caution

Cat playing with Christmas tree decorations

Distractions Are Your Ally: Engage your cat with new toys or a cat tree (ironic, right?). It’s like setting up a decoy to divert attention from the big tree.

Restrict the Party Zone: When you can’t supervise, keep your cat away from the tree room. It’s like putting up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your Christmas tree.

Temptation Removal: Those catnip toys under the tree? Bad idea unless you want a pre-Christmas unwrapping party.

Holiday Plants – Not All Are Merry and Bright: Be aware of toxic plants like poinsettias and mistletoe. These can turn your festive season into a fretful one.

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Step 6: Embrace the Unpredictable

Finally, remember that cats will be cats. They might still see your tree as their personal jungle gym. Don’t stress too much. After all, it’s these quirky antics that make holiday memories (and great stories)!

What Can You Put in a Christmas Tree to Keep Cats Away?

To keep your curious kitty from turning your Christmas tree into a disaster area, there are several things you can place in or around the tree.

  1. Citrus Peels: Cats generally turn up their noses at the scent of citrus. Placing lemon or orange peels around the base of your Christmas tree can act as a natural deterrent.
  2. Aluminum Foil: Many cats are not fans of the texture or sound of aluminum foil. Wrapping the base of your tree with foil can discourage them from getting too close.
  3. DIY Cat-Repellent Spray: Make a homemade spray using ingredients that are unappealing to cats but not harmful. A mixture of water, vinegar, and essential oils like citrus or rosemary can do the trick. Spray it around the tree but be cautious with the amount to avoid damaging the tree or the floor.
  4. Commercial Cat-Deterrent Sprays: There are various sprays available on the market that are designed to keep cats away. These usually contain scents that cats find offensive but are harmless to them and humans.
  5. Motion-Activated Devices: Devices that emit a puff of air or a startling sound when triggered can be effective. These are usually harmless and simply scare the cat away when they get too close.
  6. Cover the Water Bowl: If you have a real tree, the water in the stand might attract your cat. Covering it with a tree skirt or a cover can prevent them from drinking it (which can be unsafe if additives are used in the water).
  7. Pine Cones Around the Base: Scatter pine cones around the tree’s base. Cats typically don’t like walking on them due to their texture.

What works for one might not work for another, so a bit of trial and error might be necessary to find what works best for you.

Wrapping It Up

Creating a Christmas tree that’s safe for cats is all about balancing festive cheer with smart, preventive measures. It’s a bit like being a holiday strategist – anticipating moves, setting up defenses, and always having a backup plan (like a vacuum for stray needles). But most importantly, it’s about enjoying the season with your furry family member, even if it means a few extra precautions. Happy decorating, and may your holidays be filled with joy, laughter, and a peacefully co-existing cat and Christmas tree! 🎄🐱

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