Christmas tree might as well be an early holiday gift to your cat. Kitty can’t resist the urge to sniff, cheek rub, claw and scale the branches to reach the highest possible perch. Don’t blame your cat. It’s normal for a cat to compete for the top spot (literally and figuratively) to secure his place in kitty society.
Tree encounters of the kitty kind not only risk breaking your heirloom ornaments, but your cat can be injured by chewing or swallow dangerous items. Rather than fight a losing battle to keep your cat at bay, create a second, cat-safe tree with these 10 tips, so your feline friend can enjoy the holidays as much as you do.
1. Put yourself in your cat’s paws. Satisfy her desire to claw and lounge on branches, and trust that it won’t tip over under her assault. Match the tree size, sturdiness and base (perhaps add guy-wires for steadiness) to the activity level and number of cats.
2. Ditch the lights and fake spray snow. Both can be chewed or swallowed. Instead, decorate with cotton balls or pillow-stuffing fleece for that snowy look on branches or around the base. If you’ve chosen a real tree, water with plain water; do not use additives in case kitty decides to drink.
3. Strings and garland look great on the tree but prove deadly when swallowed. Dried flowers like baby’s breath look lovely and are nontoxic even if clueless kittens nibble.
4. To increase the fun factor, insert a few sprigs of dried catnip. But be prepared for the cats to dismantle the tree!
5. Catnip toys make great kitty tree decorations. And the good news is that they won’t be destroyed during the feline assaults. Use “orphan” socks (singletons without mates), fill with the ‘nip, and knot the open ends.
6. Jingle bells (quarter size or larger) can’t be swallowed and offer movement and sound. Hang them from ribbons on a branch or put one inside the catnip sock for more jingly fun.
7. Furry toy mice come in bright colors and look great on the tree. They can be placed in the branches for your mouse-aholic feline.
8. Add some pom-poms. Craft stores offer inexpensive bags of soft pom-poms in a variety of colors and sizes — even sparkly ones. Cats love to play with these. Pom-poms are so cheap you can fill the branches with one color or take a rainbow approach.
9. Use feathers strategically. Many cats adore feathers, but remember they can chew and swallow these. As long as your pet is supervised, a few feathers placed in the tree can be a fun accent. How about a bright feather boa instead of garland?
10. Place small stuffed toys, kitty themed or otherwise, around the base of the tree. Feline puzzle toys filled with special treats also are fun.
Of course, don’t forget the “cheap thrills.” Empty boxes, wads of holiday paper, and even paper shopping bags placed near the tree thrill cats. Remove bag handles so the cat won’t get hung around her neck. Toss a few special kitty treats in the boxes or bags. The smellier the treat, the better cats like them.
Be prepared to redecorate the tree after your cat has fun. But a “Cat-mas” tree not only answers your kitty’s Santa Paws prayers, it means she’ll be more likely to leave your formal tree and decorations alone. That promotes a merry Christmas for the whole family — furry and otherwise.