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How to Keep Your Cat Away From the Christmas Tree

 

Christmas is coming soon and everyone is so excited. To make the holiday even more spectacular, you found the perfect Christmas tree. You set it up, carefully decorate it and then stand back to bask in the beauty of the twinkling lights and delicate ornaments handed down from generation to generation. Your happiness may quickly turn to panic though as you notice your cat sauntering over to the tree with a look of total joy. He thinks you’re the absolute best cat parent in the whole world because you just created the max in environmental enrichment. You set up the ultimate CAT TREE!

What Not to Do When Trying to Deter Your Cat From the Christmas Tree

I’ve seen people attempt to keep their cats away from the Christmas tree by creating an aluminum foil moat or encircling it in a folding dog X-Pen. Although many cats may not enjoy walking over aluminum foil, they’ll think nothing of it when it’s the only barrier between them and the impossible-to-resist tree of their dreams. X-pen fences may keep a small dog from bothering your tree but it will only slow your determined cat down by seconds before you see his happy head poking out from between the branches.

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The other thing I notice cat parents do is to set up electronic deterrents around the tree. Whether it’s a sound-generating device or a shock mat, you might very well keep your cat away from the tree but you’ll also distress him which could lead to secondary behavioral issues. I especially hate these devices in multipet environments. The sound-generating device can upset a cat or dog who isn’t even the one attempting to approach the tree. With either deterrent device, it may cause a cat to redirect his frustration and react negatively by lashing out at a companion cat. There’s no place in your home for either of these devices.

Keeping the Christmas Tree Upright

Your plan starts with choosing the best location for the tree. You may decide the best option is a room in which the cat will not have access or a room that can be closed off when needed. If not, place the tree near something to which you can anchor it. For example, if there’s a large picture on the wall, remove it and put the tree in that spot. Secure the tree to the wall with fishing line and an eyebolt. This will make it more difficult for the cat to knock the tree down. When Christmas is over you can put the picture back. Any extra holes you had to put in the wall will be hidden by the picture after Christmas.

If you have hanging plants, you can also use the same technique if you have an eye-bolt in the ceiling. Secure the top of the tree to a wire or fishing line and then attach that to the plant hook. This way, the tree is anchored to the floor by the tree base but has extra security by being attached by a wire to the ceiling hook.

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If the above doesn’t seem sturdy enough you can add extra support by securing the tree toward the bottom as well. Attach wire or cord near the baseboard. You’ll just have to cover the small hole with a piece of furniture afterward.

I’d also recommend you invest in a heavy-duty tree stand. Pick one that can easily manage the weight and height of the tree even if a determined feline attempts to scale it.

When choosing a location for the tree, a corner is a safer choice. Look around though and make sure there isn’t a table or piece of furniture too close that your cat might use as a springboard to launch himself onto the tree.

Cat-Safe Tree Branches

Before decorating, deter your cat from nibbling on branches by spraying a bitter anti-chew product on the tree. This is especially important if you have a live tree because you certainly don’t want your cat chewing on the needles. The tree needles are toxic if ingested and you also don’t know whether fire retardants, preservatives or any type of pesticides were sprayed on the tree.

Prevent Your Cat From Drinking Water From the Tree Reservoir

If you have a live tree, cover the water reservoir to prevent your cat from drinking there. Tree sap is toxic and so are any tree preservatives you may add in the water. Aspirin is something that people commonly use in the water to keep the tree fresh and that’s highly toxic to cats. Use netting or Sticky Paws for Plants over the reservoir. If you use Sticky Paws, place the strips in a criss-cross pattern so you can still water the tree but the cat won’t be able to get his face in there. Some tree stands have covers that go around the reservoir as well.

books by author Pam Johnson-Bennett and a quote from Winn Feline Foundation

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