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Keeping Kitty Out Of The Tree

December 15, 2023

Happy Holidays! It’s always a joy to admire the festive decor that comes with this time of year. A big annual highlight for us is receiving heartwarming cards and photos from our clients. We especially adore seeing snapshots of Fido and Fluffy posing in front of their Christmas trees. 

Of course, we also get to be on the receiving end of some entertaining (and often hilarious) pictures and stories of mischievous kitties who may have caused a bit of chaos with their owners’ decorations. If you’re struggling with keeping your feline friend away from your tree, read on! In this article, a local Lakewood, CO veterinarian shares some useful tips to help you solve this common holiday dilemma.

Why Is Fluffy So Obsessed With My Christmas Tree?

You can’t really blame Fluffy for her tree obsession. In the wild, cats use trees as lookout points, napping spots, and nail care stations. They aso climb them to escape from weather, floods, or, sometimes, other animals by running up trees. Many of our feline friends also can’t resist shiny and/or dangling things. Put all of those things together, and, well, you can pretty much count on your frisky feline buddy getting excited about the tree.

Is It Okay To Punish My Cat For Climbing The Christmas Tree?

It can be frustrating to discover that your furball has toppled your tree, especially if she damaged prized ornaments. However, punishing your pet for this behavior is not a good tactic. It’s important to understand that cats are instinctively driven to scratch and climb trees. That makes it difficult for them to see these natural behaviors as wrong. Fluffy may feel confused or even threatened if you express anger towards her for following her instincts. This could lead to other behavioral issues, such as anxiety and aggression. It’s better to use gentler approaches in handling these situations. Encourage good behavior, and take steps to redirect your pet’s attention to something more appropriate … like that new catnip mouse you just got her.

For more advice on caring for your cat and managing their behavior, consult your Lakewood, CO veterinarian.

How Can I Keep My Kitty Out Of The Tree?

The key is to alert your furry companion to the presence of the tree without causing her to experience any more internal turmoil or fear towards it. You want to startle or irritate your furball, rather than scare or harm her. When Fluffy gets too close, try creating a loud noise. You can try  banging pots together, shaking a jar of coins, playing an alarm on your phone, stomping your foot, using an air horn, or activating a singing snowman. (Another option is to spray your playful pet with water. However, this may not be wise around Christmas trees. It could damage the tree or gifts. It could also pose a fire risk if you are squirting water too near outlets being used for lights.)

The big thing is to startle and annoy your pet without hurting or scaring her. Chances are, your feline pal will retreat to her favorite corner to ponder the pros and cons of scaling that tree.

Cats And Christmas Trees: Are They Dangerous?

We probably wouldn’t list the Christmas tree as the most dangerous thing in your home, but there are some concerns. Many of those ornaments pose choking and strangulation hazards. Anything small and sharp should be considered unsafe in general. Stringy or ropy items are also dangerous. In addition, Fluffy may hurt herself if she actually manages to bring the tree down. Those with real trees should also be aware that the water bowl may pose a risk. Tree water can contain harmful chemicals, including pesticides and fire retardants. Unfortunately, some pets will drink out of the bowls. Your Lakewood, CO veterinarian can provide more information about household and holiday hazards.

Can I Train My Cat To Leave My Christmas Tree Alone?

You can certainly teach your furball what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. The key is to make her believe that doing so was her idea all along! Of course, as any experienced kitty owner knows, our feline companions often have a way of training their humans, rather than it being the other way around. Your furball may already have you trained to provide food, affection, and playtime on demand! However, even though Fluffy may seem like the boss, remember that you do (hopefully) still have some authority in the household. Be firm, patient, and consistent, and follow the advice in this article. Ask your Lakewood, CO for more tips.

How Can I Protect My Tree?

We’ve seen more than our fair share of feline patients make Santa’s naughty list for their holiday shenanigans. Fluffy’s frisky streak is one of her more adorable traits, and we don’t expect that it’s going away anytime soon. So, to some extent, holiday kitty mischief is a given. However, there are a few steps you can take to make your furball less interested in the tree.

Don’t overdo the decorations on the lower third of the tree. You really just want a few things within paws’ reach. They should all be dull, unbreakable ornaments, like your grandma’s fabric reindeer or those pretty silver bells. Put most of the ornaments, especially those that are sharp, shiny, or fragile, on the top part of the tree.

We’d also recommend placing the tree in a corner, to prevent your cat from reaching it easily. Try not to put it too close to sofas, desks, or chairs, or anything else your kitty could use as a furball launch pad.

Scent deterrents may also help. (Citrus is often recommended, as cats don’t like its smell.)

You can also consider going with a fake tree. Even the most athletic kitty won’t be able to climb wire trunks and branches very easily! (Plus, you won’t have to worry about the water.)

How Can I Make Fluffy Lose Interest In The Tree?

It’s hard to make cats do anything: Fluffy is known for doing exactly what she wants, when she wants. However, bribery can be quite effective here. Give your feline buddy some of her toys early, and play with her a few minutes a day. This is a great way to let her get tired and burn up some of her kitty zoomies. Naptime pretty much always happens when kitties get tired. Use that to your advantage! If Fluffy doesn’t have a cat tower, consider buying or making her one for her gift this year. This may also distract her enough to leave the tree alone.

What Can I Do To Prevent My Cat From Knocking Down My Tree?

It may be necessary to reinforce your tree a bit, especially if your furry friend is super playful. A clear fishing line can be used to attach the top of the tree to the wall or ceiling. It won’t show, but it may provide just enough extra support to prevent the tree from getting wiped out. Additionally, we recommend getting a strong base.

In conclusion, we can probably expect that a good number of our feline patients will be making mischief this month. A little forethought, a little trickery, and a little luck may help you keep Fluffy from knocking over your tree during the holidays. Keep this in mind when decorating, and take a few steps to encourage good petiquette.All of us here at Wadsworth Animal Hospital, your Lakewood, CO animal clinic, wish you a wonderful holiday season. Feel free to contact us at any time!