Christmas trees and cats are a match made in…well, they’re not a match at all. Cats are naturally curious, so it’s no wonder the sudden addition of a 6-foot tall unidentified object to the living room would make them a little suspicious.
Over the holidays, vets are flooded by calls from well-meaning pet owners whose animals have gotten a hold of the decorations. While it may seem like doofy dogs are the likeliest culprits, cats are actually just as likely to mess with the tree. Problem is, they’re also more likely to do it stealthily.
Don’t let your Christmas tree harm your cat.
Threat #1: Electric Shock
The lights on your Christmas tree supply a surprising amount of power! A 120V shock to your cat’s system would certainly hurt, if not cause serious injury. Some light strings, particularly those with motion or color-changing capabilities, can pack an even more powerful punch.
The solution? Turn off the lights and unplug them unless you are physically in the room with your cat. Another option is to use battery-powered lights, even if you have to have multiple strings. The amperage provided by batteries isn’t enough to kill a cat.
Threat #2: Poison Tree Water
Did you know that most commercial Christmas trees are coated with preservatives? Over time, the chemicals used to keep your tree looking healthy week after week actually leech into the tree stand’s water. It’s not a concoction you want your cat to drink.
The solution? Buy a tree stand that’s covered. Also aim to change the water in your tree stand once a day to ensure it’s clean and fresh. If your cat just can’t help herself, get an artificial tree instead of a live one and ditch the chemicals altogether. If that doesn’t keep your cat from chewing on the needles, look into a natural bitter cat spray as a deterrent.
Threat #3: A Fall from the Tree
Cats climb things. It’s just what they do. Your cat might be particularly interested in scaling your tree because it’s new! It’s shiny! It’s…wow, it’s really wobbly up here! Although the risk of injury from a ceiling-height fall isn’t high, it’s serious enough to take into consideration. At the very least, think about how destructive it would be (and how injured your pet could become!) if she were to accidentally pull the tree over while she’s climbing.
The solution? Get a tiny, Charlie Brown-style Christmas tree that’s no taller than a chair. Or, if you need the biggest tree you can find, keep the room it’s in off-limits to your cat unless you’re in the room to monitor her.
Threat #4: Intestinal Blockage
Is your cat a chewer? Christmas is a tricky time of year. Christmas decorations range from relatively harmless (plastic star tree topper) to seriously threatening (fishing wire stringing popcorn around your tree.) Your cat can suffer serious injury and even death if she chews and swallows decorations that block, tangle, or puncture her intestinal walls.
The solution? Pretend you’re decorating for a toddler. Don’t buy anything breakable and be sure all removable pieces are too large to choke on. Keep “stringy” objects out of the picture including tinsel, ribbon, and twine. Yes, that goes for the presents, too.
And if all else fails, do this.