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How to Keep Your Cat Away From the Christmas Tree

Artificial Trees May Provide Less Cat Appeal

Although I absolutely love the scent of a real live Christmas tree, we have had nothing but artificial ones in our house from the time we brought home our first cat and dog. Although there’s still a risk of choking or toxins being released in the body if a cat ingests part of an artificial tree branch, the chances are much less that he’d be interested enough to do so. You can also coat the branches with a bitter anti-chew product to make it even less appealing. If you buy a tree with shiny artificial branches your cat may be more enticed by the light reflection so when shopping, opt for the artificial trees made to look like live ones.

photo: Shutterstock

photo: Shutterstock

Tree Lighting Cat Safety Tips

Coat tree light wires with a bitter anti-chew cream to reduce the risk of getting chewed. Coat the wires before placing them on the tree. I recommend wearing disposable gloves when handling the wires. This way, you don’t have to worry about accidentally getting the nasty tasting product on your fingers and then touching your mouth before you have a chance to wash your hands. The gloves act as a reminder that you’re handling icky-tasting stuff.

When placing the lights on the tree, wrap them tightly around branches to limit any dangling wires. This will make it less enticing to your cat.

Choose lights that are steady and not twinkling to reduce the chances of enticing your cat into playing with them.

Don’t leave tree lights on all night or when you’re not at home. It’s best to completely unplug the tree lights when not in use.

Cover the electrical light cords leading from the tree to the outlet. Use pre-slit tubing to prevent your cat from gaining access to the electrical cord itself.

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Routinely check any exposed electrical cord for signs of teeth marks or breaks in rubber covering. Additionally, routinely examine your cat, especially if he’s a kitten or has shown interest in the tree. Check his mouth for signs of burns. Look for singed hair or whiskers. Watch his behavior as well in case you notice a lack of appetite, change in breathing, needing to stand up in order to breathe, coughing or anything that doesn’t seem right. If you suspect your cat has been chewing on the Christmas tree lights, get to the veterinarian or veterinary emergency clinic immediately. Some internal damage may have occurred that isn’t visually obvious to you (such as pulmonary edema).

Ornaments and Decorations

These shiny, swaying objects can seem like toys just begging to be swatted at by a cat. Your best bet is to choose non-breakable ornaments. Breakable ornaments pose a double risk because small pieces can be ingested and your cat may also injure a paw stepping on sharp pieces. If you do want to put some delicate or breakable ones on the tree, save them for next year or the year after that when you have learned whether your cat has developed a decreased interest in Christmas decorations. When (or if) that time comes, secure any breakable ornaments tightly to the middle of branches and not hanging at the very edge. To limit temptation, don’t put ornaments on the very bottom branches.

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