Happy Holidays! It’s always a joy to see festive decorations at this time of year. We also love getting seasonal cards and photos from our clients, and seeing our adorable furry patients enjoying their holidays. Fido and Fluffy look absolutely charming in front of the Christmas tree! Of course, we’ve also received some cute pictures of our feline patients among the wreckage of Christmas trees. Why do cats insist on trying to topple trees? Is this in the kitty rulebook, or is it just a quirk? A local Brantford, ON vet shares some helpful insight about Fluffy’s favorite holiday tradition in this article.
Is There A Reason Why Cats Are So Obsessed With Christmas Trees?
One can’t fault Fluffy for her fixation on trees, as it’s a natural instinct. Wild cats utilize trees for various purrposes, such as keeping watch, resting, and maintaining their claws. They also often use trees to seek refuge from harsh weather or potential predators. It’s also important to keep in mind that cats are both predators and prey in the wild. Trees offer the perfect vantage point for spotting birds and other small animals, while allowing Fluffy a way to escape threats. On top of that, there’s also Fluffy’s attraction to shiny objects, which only adds to her fascination with Christmas trees.
What Is The Best Way To Train My Cat To Leave My Christmas Tree Alone?
Many seasoned cat owners know that cats are usually the ones who train their humans, not the other way around. You may already be under Fluffy’s spell, and she may be perfectly adept at meowpulating you into providing food, affection, lap space, and playtime whenever she wants. (To be fair, we do get unconditional love, endless cuddles, and non-stop live entertainment in exchange for these services.)
That said, it is possible to teach Fluffy what’s acceptable and what’s not. In order to accomplish this, you must make her believe the desired behavior is her own idea. You can (hopefully) do that in this case by helping your pet form a negative association with the tree.
As soon as Fluffy approaches the tree, try making a loud noise. Some things you can try include 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 this purpose, they may not be the wisest option in this case. Water could damage the tree or presents. Plus, there could be a safety hazard if water gets into the outlets used for lights.)
The point isn’t to hurt your cat or even scare her: you just want to annoy her enough to make her reconsider.
Are Christmas Trees Safe For Cats?
Christmas trees are not the most dangerous item in your home, but they aren’t the safest, either. Many ornaments pose serious choking or strangulation hazards. (Note: in general, anything small or sharp should be considered unsafe for all pets, just as a general rule of thumb.) Stringy or ropy items, such as tinsel, string, and lights, are also dangerous. Additionally, tree water may contain pesticides or fire retardants, which can pose some very serious health risks to pets if ingested. If Fluffy brings down the tree, she could also injure herself.
For more information, as well as tips on kitty proofing, contact your Brantford, ON veterinarian.
Should I Punish Fluffy For Climbing The Christmas Tree?
We understand the frustration of finding your cat has knocked over your tree. However, punishing your feline friend for these accidents is not a good tactic. As mentioned above, Fluffy’s urges to scratch and climb trees are pretty deeply ingrained. After all, trees are often crucial to kitties’ survival in the wild!
Because you’d be punishing your pet for following her instincts, she won’t understand what she did wrong or why you’re upset. That may just confuse or scare her, which in turn could trigger additional behavioral problems, like anxiety and aggression. We recommend handling the situation with a gentler approach. Feel free to ask your Brantford, ON veterinarians for helpful tips on how to manage this issue.
Can I Make Fluffy Lose Interest In The Tree?
There are some precautions you can take to prevent your cat from interfering with the Christmas tree. Limiting decorations on the lower third of the tree is often very effective. Put only dull and unbreakable ornaments within paws’ reach. Keep those sharp, shiny, and fragile ones on the higher branches.
Placing the tree in a corner may also make it harder for your cat to access. Don’t put it too close to furniture that could act as convenient kitty springboards: this will only help Fluffy get into the tree. Citrus-scented taste deterrents can also be effective, but may require frequent reapplication.
If all else fails, consider opting for a fake tree. These are less climbable for your furry friend, and eliminate the risk of her drinking water from a real tree’s base.
Bribery may also be effective. Dedicate a few minutes each day to playing with your cat. This is not only cute, it’s also good for bonding. Chasing after that evasive red dot is an excellent workout for Fluffy. That also makes kitty playtime the purrfect way for tiring out Fluffy and allowing her to release some of her boundless energy. As we all know, when our feline companions become fatigued, they tend to take naps. Long naps. Hopefully, your pet will be so tired that she’ll be more interested in sleeping under the tree with the rest of the gifts than climbing it.
Additionally, there’s the option of a cat tower: a modernized version of a tree. If your little buddy does not already have one, consider buying or creating one as a gift for her this holiday season. This diversion may redirect her focus just enough to discourage her from bothering the actual tree. (Results may vary.)
I’ve Tried Everything, But My Cat Keeps Knocking Down My Tree! Help!
It might be a good idea to reinforce your tree a bit. It won’t stop your playful pet from smacking at ornaments, but it should at least prevent a wipeout. Use clear fishing line to attach the tree to the wall or ceiling. This won’t show, but it will provide extra support. It is also important to buy a tree with a sturdy base.
The internet is full of memes and photos of people who went to extremes keeping their frisky feline out of trees. One poor soul hung their tree upside down from the ceiling. Another surrounded theirs with vacuum cleaners. You may not have to go quite that far, but you could try a puppy gate.
While Fluffy won’t give up her beloved holiday tree-climbing tradition any time 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!All of us here at Fairview Drive Pet Hospital, your Brantford, ON animal hospital, wish you a very happy holiday season. Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time.