Cats love Christmas trees, and many of them have great fun scratching, climbing, and pawing away at baubles and other ornaments. However, festive trees can pose a hazard – and even be outright dangerous to cats. Here are some top tips on cat-proofing your Christmas tree so that you can both enjoy them safely this year.
Which Type of Christmas Tree Should You Choose?
Live trees are often favoured for their smell and authenticity, but many real trees have sharp needles that can damage eyes or puncture skin. If you can’t imagine Christmas without a live tree, then make sure you choose a cat-friendly option such as a fir tree – as opposed to spruce or pine – as they have flat, soft needles.
Remember to keep it watered so that it sheds fewer needles, and be sure to sweep up fallen needles to stop your animal companion from ingesting any. Don’t forget to anchor trees to a wall or ceiling with string to prevent accidents. Dogs and cats may also be attracted to tree water, which can contain fallen needles, putting them at risk of intestinal punctures or blocks if ingested, so consider this, too, when choosing your tree and try to keep any water covered.
Using a small- to medium-size artificial tree can help minimise injuries. Artificial trees usually don’t drop needles unless they are old and worn, and their branches may be less attractive to cats. However, they can still tempt them into playtime, especially if they are shiny or glittery, so try to choose a smaller tree that is less likely to topple over and harm them if they do decide to explore.
How to Choose Cat-Friendly Christmas Decorations
Tinsel, angel hair, and other string-like decor should be avoided, as it can cause serious injury or even be deadly to cats and dogs. Cats in particular might be enticed by tinsel’s toy-like appearance, but if ingested, it could get stuck to their tongue or teeth or create an obstruction in the intestines leading to internal wounds that can cause immense pain, require surgery, or be fatal.
Electric lights and battery-powered decorations can be dangerous for cats. Chewing on wires can cause potentially fatal electric shocks, and punctured batteries can leak dangerous chemicals into their mouth. It’s safest to forego illuminations completely, but if you do choose to have them, make sure they are high atop the tree and nestled deep, or consider building a barricade so cats are kept at a safe distance.
Try to avoid fragile decorations or use them only near the top of the tree, where animals can’t knock them off and injure their sensitive mouths and paws or ingest broken pieces, leading to intestinal obstruction. Avoid using metal hooks to hang ornaments – or, if you must use them, check the floor for them regularly. Ribbon and twine are safer alternatives.
Other Considerations for a Cat-Proof Christmas
Winter plants can make your home look suitably festive, but many are dangerous to both cats and dogs. Holly, mistletoe, amaryllis, poinsettias, and lilies are all known to be potentially toxic, and some can cause gastric distress, irritation, or even death.
Sweets and treats
Christmas is often a time of indulgence, and while it might be tempting to leave sweets, chocolates, and platters of biscuits in reaching distance, remember that both cats and dogs can get very sick if they share certain foods. If you must have food around, keep it out of reach of your animal companions.
Cats are often playful by nature, and their exploration of trees may come from boredom. Be sure to give your kitty lots of attention this Christmas and schedule some stimulation time together.
Keeping Cats Safe in Winter
With dropping temperatures, firework displays, and more, the winter months can be a testing time for animals such as cats and dogs. Read our advice on how to keep them safe, warm, and dry, and research which foods are dangerous to a dog’s health.
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Please share this information with anyone you know who has an animal companion to help keep cats and dogs safe this Christmas.
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