We have to hand it to them don’t we, there’s nothing shy about a cat. They literally get into everything and at Christmas... well... all those baubles, tinsel, wrapping paper and of course THE TREE. You can imagine it can’t you, the first time they see it, when you drag it through the door, thinking, wow, my humans got me my very own present! Certainly I will never forget my first Christmas in my very first home... I went to bed on Christmas Eve, leaving a spectacular tree in the living room and came down on Christmas morning to a complete and utter wreck! The cat was sat, angel between paws, admiring her handiwork. But whilst we may smile at this it has a much more serious side too. Did you know for instance that certain species of real tree are potentially poisonous to a cat? This may be ingested through drinking the water we use to keep a tree fresh or by a needle from the tree causing a puncture wound – if you’ve ever stood on a pine needle you’ll already know how sharp they are. Artificial trees come with their own particular set of problems. However rather than list them all here, because I’m sure you are aware of many of them already, it is probably more helpful to give some tips and tricks for deterring puss in his investigations. So here we go... 1. For real trees and artificial, wrap a good thick layer of tinfoil around the base of the tree and up to the first branches. Cats don’t like the feel of this and it will help to put them off climbing. 2. For those that make it past this though – it’s well worth investing in a good quality tree base to reduce the instance of it toppling. It will last for years and should have an adjustable opening to take most sizes of tree. Ask at any reputable DIY store for advice on this. (If possible try to attach the tree to a wall as well.) 3. By placing the tree away from ‘launching pads’ in the shape of shelves, sofas etc it will be less enticing to climb. 4. And for the most determined puss, a water spray! Keep it close at hand but out of reach of children, who may decide it’s the next best game to play! But a small, light spray accompanied by a firm no, should give them the idea. 5. Alternatively you can spray the tree with Apple Bitter or Citronella – both of which are found in most good health stores as well as pet shops. The smell won’t be too overpowering to us but to puss... 6. Similarly you can place pine cones treated with a citrus spray around the bottom of the tree – apart from the smell cats just don’t like walking on them so the more the merrier here and if you can use something to stop them scattering too she won’t be able to pick her way through them. 7. And I’m sorry but I do have to mention this one... if you are buying your cat a present and it happens to contain catnip or any other cat desirable product, please, please don’t put it under the tree – I’ll leave that one there I think. 8. Electric wires leading to the tree should be covered well – cats will chew and play with these. You can buy plastic tubes especially for this job but the insides of clingfilm rolls etc, works well too, although you will have to save enough beforehand to completely protect the wires. 9. Oh yes... if you are spraying the tree with a deterrent do this before you have attached any electrical decorations. 10. Distractions – by providing your cat her own special play area, away from the tree it will be a whole lot easier to take her mind off it. I have a friend who, each year, sets up a ‘cat mobile’ in the opposite corner of the room – she changes it about to keep interest fresh and says it works really well. Don’t be tempted to make this an all year round thing though or it loses its pull.
Tinsel is sharp! Yes, it has the capacity to cut like paper or grass. So keep it away from animals and children. Spray snow is poisonous to cats. Ribbons can choke. Chocolate – I’m thinking hanging decorations here – is also poisonous to cats. Avoid sparkly, swinging, glass and candles if you can – these are all attractive to the intrepid cat. Wooden, felt, paper decorations pose less of a problem. Finally I have one last thing to say... you cats out there... we do it for your own good!! Merry Christmas.
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