The holidays are upon us and with that comes the great challenge. No, not the crowded malls and highways, not the endless party invites, not the family coming to stay with you for what feels like an eternity. Those pale in comparison to the biggest challenge of all…keeping Kitty out of the tree. Kitty napping peacefully under the tree as if he were the only gift that should matter in your world? No problem. Kitty gnawing on the tinsel or scaling the limbs? Problem. Every day is a new opportunity to play hide and seek with the ornaments. I’ll come home and notice a bare section on the tree…where 4 or 5 ornaments once happily hung, and 3 little sets of eyes just blinking at me with complete innocence.
Christmas trees present several dangers to house cats. First, live trees, especially pine, can be deadly if ingested. Pine resin can cause disease in cats. Also, the pine needles with sharp points may cause internal damage to his organs if he eats them. Artificial Christmas trees are safer, but you still need to keep an eye on your cat. Flame retardant chemicals are sprayed on most trees, live and artificial, and can cause thyroid issues in your cat.
Beyond ingesting, the tree, cats may also chew on the electric cords for the Christmas lights. Pet specialty stores sell bitter apple or lemon based sprays designed to keep cats away from furniture or rooms. The smell is a deterrent which works even when you are not there to shoo them away. Spray the base, Christmas tree skirt and branches of the Christmas tree, to include the light strings. You may want to spray again every few days to make sure the smell is strong enough to deter your cat.
If you have rambunctious cats and kittens, it is best to avoid glass and fragile ornaments completely. Use shatter-proof or plastic balls with less fragile ornaments. Small pieces, detachable parts and flimsy hooks are tempting and dangerous to Kitty, so avoid them whenever possible. Leave the bottom branches free of ornaments to avoid tempting cats.
Skip tinsel altogether. It can choke Kitty or cause intestinal blockages. The same goes for any metallic wrapping paper or bows. Also, clean up wrapping paper scraps as quickly as possible. The thicker coatings may also be hard for your kitty to digest.
Secure the base of the tree with weights so Kitty doesn't turn it over which can cause lots of damage and possibly injury.
Silk holiday plant decorations are the best bet for homes with cats. Holly, mistletoe and poinsettias are all poisonous for Kitty. However, if you must use the real thing, keep them high and out of reach. Keep a careful check throughout the holiday for leaves, berries and petals, which may have fallen on the floor. If you are going to be traveling, dispose of poisonous plants before you go. Who knows what Kitty may get into while you are gone.
Avoid using artificial snow spray, which, besides being tacky, can also be deadly if ingested by Kitty. Also be mindful of candles and Kitty's whiskers.
Give Kitty his own sets of “decorations.” With all the fun stuff hanging around, it’s only natural Kitty will want to check out all the new and fun-looking stuff. When you haul out the decor, also haul out a set of holiday toys especially for Kitty. Anytime Kitty goes for something hanging from the tree, quickly hand him one of his own special toys to show him that’s what he should be playing with.
Enjoy this little video...it epitomizes what's probably happening in my house right now while I am at work...