With sparkling lights, glittery dangling ornaments and shiny strips of tinsel, Christmas trees are irresistible to most cats. Here are 10 tips to keep your cat and your Christmas tree safe this festive season.
1. A safe location. The ideal position for your Christmas tree is a room where you can shut the door at night. If this isn’t possible in your home, try to place the tree in a location with plenty of clear space around it, and away from any furniture (tables, bookcases etc.) that your cat could use to jump on your tree.
2. A strong and stable base. Kittens will climb to the top of a Christmas tree in mere seconds, and even if your cat isn’t a tree climber there’s a good chance he will use the trunk as a scratching post, rub against it, or bump it when pawing at the ornaments. Make sure that your tree has a firm, solid base that isn’t going to topple. For extra stability, you may like to secure it to a wall or the ceiling with strong fishing line.
3. Cover the base of the tree. If you have a real tree, it’s important that you cover the base so that your cat can’t drink the water. Sap from the tree and residual fertilizers, can make the water potentially toxic. You can also keep cats away from the base of the tree by using citrus sprays, other cat deterrent sprays or wrapping crinkled aluminum foil around the base – cats hate the sound.
4. Opt for simple decorations. Sparkly store-bought ornaments with lots of glitter and movement are much more tempting for your cat than handmade felt and paper decorations. Tinsel, artificial snow and ribbons are potentially dangerous to your cat if they chew or swallow them and can cause intestinal blockages.
5. Say no to edible decorations. Chocolate is highly toxic for cats, and other sugary sweets aren’t healthy either. Think twice before you add candy canes and chocolate treats to your tree.
6. Hang decorations high. Place the majority of decorations on the top two-thirds of your Christmas tree. Delicate, breakable, dangerous or particularly enticing ornaments should be placed up high and the safer felt or paper decorations hung on the lower branches. Anything dangling from the lower branches and at your cat’s eye level is going to be their first target.
7. Attach ornaments safely. Avoid using string, ribbon or rubber bands to attach your ornaments to the tree, all of these are potentially hazardous to your cat if swallowed. Instead secure your ornaments with twist ties, the green ones will also blend in nicely with the green branches.
8. Take care with Christmas lights and electrical wires. No Christmas tree is complete without sparkling lights, but make sure that cords and wires are kept out of reach to prevent your cat chewing them. To prevent the risk of fatal electric shock, tape cords and wires together, or place them in plastic conduits away from your cat’s teeth. You can also coat the wires with ‘bitter apple’ or ‘citrus’, scents which most cats detest. Always turn off the Christmas lights when the tree is unattended.
9. Vacuum underneath your tree frequently. Whether you have a real or artificial tree both can be potentially dangerous to your cat. Depending on the tree species, evergreen pine needles can be toxic if chewed, and because they are so sharp they can pierce or puncture the skin of a curious cat. Artificial trees can also be harmful due to their synthetic materials. Regularly vacuuming or sweeping underneath your tree can minimise the chance of your cat digesting anything he shouldn’t.
10. Put presents under the tree at the last-minute. Cats view presents with beautifully tied bows and ribbons as an invitation to open them early. Avoid teeth and claw marks on your gifts by waiting till Christmas Eve to put your presents on display.
All of the above tips are designed to keep your cat safe this Christmas, but every cat is different – so take appropriate safety measures and precautions based on your cat’s personality. You know whether your cat is going to try to climb your Christmas tree or is at risk of pulling it on top of themselves or whether they’re just going to curl up underneath it and go to sleep.
Does your cat climb your Christmas tree or play with the dangling ornaments? What measures do you take to keep him safe?