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FAQS About Kittyproofing Your Tree

December 15, 2023

Wishing you all a wonderful Holiday Season! One of the delights of this time of year is admiring the festive decorations. We also love receiving seasonal cards and photos from our clients, and seeing our adorable furry patients never gets old! Whether it’s Fido or Fluffy posing in front of the Christmas tree, or our feline patients snoozing peacefully among their humans’ holiday, we can’t help but smile. Of course, we also tend to hear about some of our naughtier patients at this time of year. If you need some advice on how to keep your curious cat away from your Christmas tree, continue reading! A local Mapleton, UT vet shares some useful tips in this article.

Is There A Reason Why Kitties Are So Obsessed With Christmas Trees?

One can’t fault Fluffy for her fixation on trees, as it’s a natural instinct. Wild kitties utilize trees for various purrposes, such as keeping watch, resting, and sharpening their claws. They also often seek refuge in trees when looking to escape harsh weather or potential predators. Keep in mind that cats are hunters at heart. Trees offer the perfect vantage point for spotting prey, like birds and small animals. There’s also the fact that many cats are attracted to shiny objects. When you consider all of these things, well, it’s safe to assume that most of these little furballs will eagerly gravitate towards the tree. In fact, as far as your pet is concerned, you just offered her a private tree all of her own, and then decorated it with fun toys as an added bonus.

What Is The Best Way To Train Fluffy To Leave My Christmas Tree Alone?

Many seasoned cat owners know that our feline pals are usually the ones who train their humans, not the other way around. You may already be under Fluffy’s spell. Kitties are perfectly adept at meowpulating us into providing food, affection, lap space, and playtime whenever they want!

However, even if you have completely spoiled your cat, you can still teach her better manners. There’s a bit of a trick to this. You want your feline pal to believe the desired behavior is her own idea.

In this case, the goal is to make your furry friend sufficiently cautious of the tree. As soon as Fluffy approaches the tree, try making a loud noise. There are many options for this, including using pots and pans, shaking a jar of change, setting off an alarm on your phone, stomping your foot, using an air horn, or turning on that singing snowman doll. (While squirt bottles filled with water are often recommended for training purrposes, they may not be the wisest option in this case. Water could damage the tree or presents, and could pose a safety hazard if it gets into outlets used for lights.) These things won’t hurt your furry pal, and they shouldn’t really scare her: they’ll just startle and annoy her, which may just do the trick.

Are Christmas Trees Dangerous For Kitties?

We wouldn’t necessarily say that the Christmas tree is the most dangerous thing in your house, but it’s not exactly safe, either. Many of those pretty ornaments pose choking or strangulation hazards! (Note: everything small or sharp should be considered unsafe for all pets, just as a general rule of thumb.) Stringy or ropy items, like tinsel, string, and lights, are also dangerous. Tree water may contain pesticides or fire retardants, which can pose serious health risks to pets. Also, if Fluffy brings down the tree, she may hurt herself.

For more information, as well as tips on kitty proofing, contact your Mapleton, UT veterinarian.

Can I Punish My Kitty For Climbing The Christmas Tree?

We understand the frustration of finding your frisky pet has knocked over your tree. However, punishing your feline friend for these accidents is not advisable. Fluffy’s innate instincts to scratch and climb are deeply ingrained. Tree climbing is a normal part of her behavior, so she won’t understand what she did wrong or why you’re upset. Punishing her may only create feelings of insecurity and fear towards you. This could also trigger additional behavioral problems, like anxiety and aggression. Handle the situation with a gentler approach instead. Encourage good behavior, and direct your pet’s attention to more suitable toys.

Feel free to ask our Mapleton, UT veterinarians for helpful tips on how to manage this issue.

What Can I Do To Make Fluffy Lose Interest In The Tree?

Man’s Second Best Friend is known for doing what she wants whenever she wants. There are no foolproof ways to get her to do–or stop doing–anything. However, you can nudge your cute pet toward better petiquette.

We’d recommend limiting decorations on the lower third of the tree. Put only dull and unbreakable ornaments within paws’ reach, reserving sharp, shiny, or fragile ones for the top half. Hanging a lot of bright ornaments in easy range is asking for trouble! Alternatively, place the tree in a corner to make it harder for your kitty to access. Avoid positioning it too close to furniture that your cute pet could use as a springboard. Citrus-scented taste deterrents can also be effective, but may require frequent reapplication. Another option is to get a fake tree. This will be less climbable for your furry friend, and also eliminates the risk of her drinking water from a real tree’s base.

Bribery might also prove successful. Spend a few minutes each day playing with your furry pal. Chasing that ever-elusive red dot will hopefully wear Fluffy out. You want her to burn off that pent-up energy, and get a bit tired. We all know what happens when our furry companions become fatigued (Hint: marathon napping sessions).

Another option is the cat tower, which is basically Fluffy’s version of an indoor. If your kitty doesn’t have one, consider purchasing or crafting one as a present for her during this holiday season. This could potentially distract her just enough to keep her away from the tree.

Is There Any Way I Can Stop My Cats From Climbing The Tree? 

Adding a little reinforcement to your tree might be a good idea. You can use clear fishing line to attach the top of the tree to the wall or ceiling. It won’t show, but it will provide extra support. This might not stop your playful pet from batting at the ornaments, but at least it should prevent a wipeout. It’s also crucial to get a tree that has a sturdy base.

You may have seen stories from other people who have fought this battle. One poor soul hung their tree upside down from the ceiling to protect it from their frisky furball. Another surrounded theirs with vacuum cleaners. We wouldn’t suggest going this far, but you could try a puppy gate.

Summary: While Fluffy probably won’t be giving up her beloved holiday tree-climbing tradition anytime soon, we can help you minimize the risk of disaster. Teaching your furry buddy better petiquette will require forethought, trickery, bribery, and a little luck, but it isn’t impossible!

Everyone at Family Pet Hospital, your Mapleton, UT animal hospital, wishes you a very happy holiday season. Please contact us at any time, for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs.

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