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How to cat-proof your Christmas tree

How to cat-proof your Christmas tree
by Morven Hamilton

Read time: 4 min

The Christmas tree: the most beautiful part of the season. It’s the place we gather to open presents, be merry and – oh wait, the cat’s toppled it again. Every year, every hardcore cat parent asks the same question: how do you make your Christmas tree cat-safe? Let’s get a jingle on and find out:

Aim for a non-dropping tree variety

Whether it’s a real or artificial one, aim for a Christmas tree that doesn’t drop a lot of needles. Why? Firstly, real Christmas trees are mildly toxic for cats in large quantities. So if your cat eats a lot of needles, it can irritate their mouths and cause digestive issues. Try a Nordmann Fir, known for needle retention.

With artificial Christmas trees, you won’t have to worry about the oil and sap being an irritant. But if swallowed, real and artificial needles could puncture cats’ intestines. Regularly vacuum any dropped needles, and discourage your cat from eating them.

Think about shorter trees, high branches, or thin branches

Cats love Christmas trees because they give them a tall spot to survey their kingdom. Your best defence? Take the fun away. A shorter tree? No views to enjoy. A natural alpine tree with a long, bare trunk? Too difficult to clamber. Trees with slender or bare branches? Won’t take your cat’s weight so they can’t climb up. Pick your tree well, people. 

Secure your tree

Cats may have evolved from stealthy predators, but they’re not always graceful. So if your cat climbs the tree and topples it, you risk a full-size Christmas tree landing on them. Or, they’ll make their great escape and leave you with scattered baubles to clean up.

Secure your Christmas tree to avoid accidents. First, weigh it down at the bottom. A sturdy, weighted stand means a mischievous cat in the higher branches won’t send the whole thing crashing down. Next, if possible, secure your tree to the wall. Wrap wire to the top of the trunk, then fix it to a nearby wall.

Cover the base

If you’ve got a real tree that needs water, you need to make sure your cat doesn’t drink the water – particularly if it has toxic fertiliser in it. And if the tree is planted in earth, you don’t want it mistaken for a litter tray either. To avoid both, hide the base with a cover or blanket, and place presents or weights on top.

Avoid nearby furniture in placing your tree

If you don’t want your cat doing a heroic leap from the dining table to pounce on the Christmas angel, don’t provide them with the launchpad. Place the tree away from any high surfaces like tables, shelves or cabinets.

Put valuable and fragile decorations further up

Protecting your decorations takes strategy. The lowest baubles on the tree are the easiest sport, so place soft or tough-to-break ones here. Anything valuable should stay high up, out of claws’ reach. Glass and easily broken baubles could shatter and hurt your cat – they’re best avoided altogether.

Tie your decorations on

Rather than metal or plastic hooks, tie your decorations onto branches with string, thread or wire. Then if your cat gives a bauble a good right hook, it’ll still stay on its branch. Nice one.

Be careful with your lights

All the fresh food in the world won’t stop some cats from snacking on the wires of Christmas lights. Keep an eye on your cats near electrics and turn the lights off when you’re not in the room. If you prefer to leave them on, choose battery-operated lights. If they’re mains-powered, your cat’s at risk of a serious electric shock.

Avoid tinsel

Ditch the sparkles on your cat-safe tree: tinsel is a tempting treat to cats. If they eat it, they can choke or get it stuck in their intestines. Plus, most are made with non-recyclable plastics – skip the tinsel and save the planet.

Got more questions on how to cat-proof your tree? Or want to show off how effective your tree-protection technique is? Join the KatKin Club House, where the hardcore cat parents are making merry all December long

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