We found out the hard (and horrifying) way how important it is to keep your cat out of the Christmas tree. Twice.
The first time, our Zorro had a case of the zoomies and jumped full tilt into the tree. It wobbled, but didn’t fall over. But Zorro also didn’t jump out. He managed to jump right into a loop in the string of lights. And he was stuck with the lights wrapped around his neck. We were able to untangle him quickly – but it was a scare. That was Christmas 2019. It was the first time in our 20+ years as cat parents that anything like this had ever happened… and we foolishly counted it as a fluke.
Until Christmas 2020.
Jack and Madison were 9 month old kittens. Amazed by the 12 foot Christmas tree, they had to explore. We would regularly catch them trying to climb it. It was nerve-wracking, but we didn’t put much effort into training them to keep out of the Christmas tree. Until we heard something we’ve never heard before.
If you’ve ever heard a kitten scream, it will haunt you forever. Madison had been caught in the lights… they were wrapped so tightly around her back leg I couldn’t even get a finger in between to try and free her. She was hanging there terrified. Spitting, hissing, biting, screaming. We frantically pulled the power cord and cut the string of lights with scissors.
I know the horror of that moment lives in Madison’s mind as much as is does in ours. I shudder to think the outcome had we not been home. And this is why we’ve learned as much as we can about:
How To Keep Your Cat Out Of The Christmas Tree
- Aluminum Foil. Try putting the foil around the base of the tree to deter cats from being able to climb up the tree. For cats that are jumpers, you can also try putting pieces in the tree itself.
- Citrus and Mint. Both of these smells are unappealing for cats. We use pure organic extracts of orange or peppermint, mixed in water in a small spray bottle. A few spritzes of either are a great way to keep cats from trying to climb – or eat – the Christmas tree.
- Orange, Lemons, Limes. Because citrus is so offensive to most cats, try peeling a few of these fruits and place the peels throughout the tree.
- Barriers. If you’ve tried all of the above and your Christmas tree is still irresistible to your cat, try a barrier. Cut a circular piece if cardboard about the diameter of your tree. Then cut a slit to the middle with a hole to fit around the trunk – and slide it in between the branches and around the trunk. This is a hard stop for any kitty trying to climb up the tree.
- Training. Most people think training is for the dogs – but it’s just as rewarding, engaging, and enriching for cats. Train your cat to keep out of the Christmas tree by providing a more exciting alternative. Clicker train them to stay away – and follow up this positive training with treats!
We know there’s nothing more fun for some cats than a Christmas tree. Some people also think it’s super cute to catch a video or picture of their cat in the Christmas tree… and it is fun and cute. Until it’s not. Please don’t take the chance. The whole point is to keep our cats safe during this holiday season.