Christmas trees may be a festive necessity, but if you have cats, they can sometimes seem more trouble than they’re worth. Cats rarely respect a command of “do not touch”, which can lead to some calamitous results for both them and the tree. Fortunately, there are several ways you can preserve the festive spirit and keep your cat safe at the same time. Want to know how you can keep your cat off your Christmas tree for good? Then read on for some top tips.
Introduce the Decorations Slowly
If your cat is more of a threat to the tree than the tree is to them, exercise some damage limitation by leaving your tree unadorned for a few days after setting it up. As Wiki notes, this will give them plenty of time and opportunity to climb, smell, and otherwise adjust to the tree (and hopefully, lose a lot of their interest in it) before you start bedazzling its branches. By the time you add on the tinsel, baubles, and lights, the most they’ll likely do is raise one quizzical eyebrow before finding themselves a new way to keep amused.
Try a Spray Repellent
Introducing any chemicals into the house when you have pets is always a little risky, but fortunately, there’s plenty of non-toxic repellents you can use to much the same effect. Scour the pet store for a non-toxic spray before liberally spraying over any branches or ornaments that your cat has decided to turn into a chew toy. If you’d rather save your cents, try making your own spray at home by combining some water and vinegar (although unless you want your home to smell like a drive-thru for a few hours after, be prepared to leave your window open for a little while after spraying).
Use the Power of Citrus
If a vinegar/ water spray repellent isn’t enough to deter your cat from clambering all over the tree’s branches, try making an easy homemade repellent to hang from the tree. Cats hate the smell of citrus with a passion: use their antipathy to your advantage by peeling an orange, sprinkling the peeled segments with a citrus-based essential oil (citronella, orange or lemongrass make good options), popping both the segments and the peel into a small mesh bag, and hanging it from the tree. The smell of the citrus should keep your cat well away – and scent your room at the same time. If your cat’s the persistent sort, double up on the efforts by combining some of the essential oil with water and spritzing it over the branches and any low hanging decorations.
If you add rattling baubles or long cords of tinsel to the lower branches of your tree, then you’re inviting trouble. Keep any decorations your cat may mistake for a toy to the upper branches, and keep the lower branches as unadorned as possible. Also, keep any chairs or furniture your cat could use to reach the upper branches well away from the tree.
Decorate Out of Sight
You know how just tying your shoelaces can make your cat think you’re starting a game? Well, imagine how excited they feel when you start throwing baubles and tinsel over the tree – something which, to them at least, probably seems like nothing more than one huge climbing frame bought in specially for their amusement. Unless you want your cat to think you’re inviting them to join in a game, keep them well out of the way while you’re decorating the tree. Once you introduce them to the finished article, you’ll probably find they show a lot less interest in it than they would have otherwise
Cage Them In
… and no, before you start calling the animal welfare brigade, we’re not suggesting you cage the cat. If you’ve tried all other methods and your cat still can’t resist giving the odd string of tinsel a little pull, you might want to consider investing in a special “tree cage”. Granted, this probably won’t work on a huge 8-foot-tall fir, but if your tree leans more to the petite than the giant, there’s a number of creative ways to keep it safely tucked away all the way through Christmas. Glass fronted frames will complement the bright lights and baubles perfectly, although just be sure to choose safety glass to prevent any little “accidents”.
Keep Them Distracted
Once cats set their sights on something, they can be relentless in their pursuit. That said, there are a couple of methods you can try to turn their attention away from the tree and onto something else. First of all, scatter plenty of their favorite toys around the same room as the tree- this should help them burn off some of that surplus energy and distract them from using the tree as a plaything. If that doesn’t work, try some mild-mannered scare tactics – Anything Kitty suggests placing a cutout of a realistic-looking fox or large animal next to the tree, or even keeping a spray trigger bottle to hand for when they get a little too frisky. Just bear in mind you should use discretion with both of these tactics – if your cat has a nervous disposition, or scares easily, you’re probably best looking at one of the other suggested deterrents instead.
The Last Resort
If you’ve tried all the various ways of keeping your cat away from the tree but still haven’t managed it, there’s only one thing for it… put your tree in a room they don’t use. Or if they do use it, make sure they don’t have access to it over the Christmas period. It may sound mean not to let your cat experience the full joy of the festive period with you, but trust me, it’s a lot easier to handle a disgruntled cat than it is one who spends half of Christmas buried under a tree.