How to cat-proof your Christmas tree

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Cats always find a way to chew through your brand new Christmas lights, and they don’t care how much you spend on them. If you’re sick of your cat ruining your festive fun, there are a few things you can do to keep their paws off your décor. Express.co.uk chatted to Jamie Middleton from Pets Radar to find out how to cat proof your Christmas tree.

It isn’t just irritating when cats pull down your Christmas tree, it’s actually dangerous.

Mr Middleton said: “Apart from cats ruining your Christmas set-piece, it can also be dangerous when your cats jump at your Christmas tree.

“Your feline pal can suffer a nasty injury from pulling a Christmas tree down on top of them.

“Cats can also get ill from eating pine and fir needles, fake snow, tinsel, or drinking the treated water that’s keeping your tree alive for the season.

“They can also have an unhealthy fascination for tree lights, and can electrocute or burn themselves if they chew through them.”

Don’t worry, there are plenty of tricks to keep your cat and Christmas tree safe this Christmas.

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Location, location, location!

Where you place your Christmas tree could make all the difference.

Mr Middleton advised: “if it is possible, keep your tree in a room which you can close off to your cat when you aren’t there to stop it attacking or climbing it.

“This will stop your cat investigating it without supervision and prevent midnight marauding.

“If your tree is small enough, and you have a way of securing it, putting it out of reach of your cat may make them lose interest.

“At the least, keep it away from shelves or surfaces your cat can jump from so they can’t leap onto it from above.

“Wherever you put it, ensure it isn’t easily pulled or pushed over by your pets by using a heavy solid base, and securing it to a wall with some wire to help keep it from being toppled over.”

Discouraging smells

Cats can be warded off by smells.

Mr Middleton said: “Although lion dung is a highly recommended way to keep cats out of your garden, you probably don’t want that in your living room.

“Fortunately, there are some more pleasant smells that felines tend to dislike that you can use to keep cats away from your Christmas tree.

“First of all, there are shop-bought cat-deterrent sprays, which you can spray over your tree so your furry friend will turn its nose up at it.

“They are scented with smells designed to be unpleasant to cats, but not to people.

“There are also automatic sprays that only spray when they detect motion in a place you don’t want your pet to be, which can be a more effective deterrent.”

Alternatively, place a few pine cones at the bottom of your tree after coating them with apple cider vinegar.

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Foil

Cats hate tin foil because of the sound and texture.

Mr Middleton said: “Cats tend to climb Christmas trees using the trunk rather than the flimsier branches, so if you can put them off at the base, they may give up.

“An easy way to do this is to wrap the base of your tree and trunk in foil.

“Most cats don’t like the feel of foil on their paws, and aren’t keen on the noise it makes when they walk on it. You can decorate the foil too, so it isn’t too much of an eyesore.”

If you don’t like the look of this, you can buy Christmas tree defenders to fit around the trunk and prevent them climbing it.

You could also try putting double-sided sticky tape on the floor around the base of the tree, as cats hate the feeling of this on their feet.

Keep the decorations up high

If a cat can reach your baubles, lights, and tinsel, they will snatch it from the tree with all their might.

Mr Middleton said: “Don’t hang ornaments, tinsel, or Christmas lights low down on the tree where cats can easily see and get to them – if they are out of their line of sight, they may not notice the dangling treats above them.

“If you are worried about the tree looking bare, use less shiny objects lower down which will be less of an attraction to your cat.”

You should also make sure the decorations are securely attached to the tree, so if the cats do get to them they won’t be pulled to the floor.

Mr Middleton said: “Using tightly wrapped wire ties can ensure the tree ornaments stay where they belong.

“It may also be worth delaying decorating your tree until your cat is used to this new addition to the house. You can add the tempting decorations later.”

No tinsel

Tinsel and cats simply should not mix, so you’re probably better off finding a replacement.

Mr Middleton said: “You couldn’t design a more perfect shiny, dangling temptation for your furry friends.

“It’s also the ideal tool for your inquisitive feline to pull the tree down on top of them.

“What’s more, it can make your cat ill if, as well as attacking it, it decides to eat it.

“Although most tinsels are not toxic to cats, it is a choking hazard, and if ingested it can get stuck in their intestines causing blockages.”

Instead, opt for paper alternatives such as chains or thick ribbons that won’t catch your cat’s eye anywhere near as much.

He added: “Similarly, shiny, light-reflecting baubles are like catnip to curious cats.

“Consider toning down your tree ornaments, and your cat may not consider them worth bothering investigating”

Slim it down

We all love a full-looking Christmas tree, including cats.

Thinner trees will be less tempting for your cat, Mr Middleton reckons.

He said: “You can discourage cats from wanting to climb your tree if there are less places to nose through and hide in. Pencil trees – slimline versions of Xmas trees – may put your cat off wanting to explore.

“They have the added bonus that you need less room to display and store them, and they cost a lot less to decorate!”

There are also cat-friendly Christmas trees on the market, such as the Nordmann Fir.

This tree is grown in the Scottish borders and has soft rich-green needles and is almost scentless.

The Cat-proof Christmas tree has its lower branches removed to keep your decorations away from your cats paws.

Fence it off

If your cats can’t be warded off, you may need to fence off the tree.

Mr Middleton explained: “This may seem like an extreme option, but if all else has failed it may be worth using a free-standing pet safety gate or small pet exercise pen to help fend them off.

“Wooden varieties of pet gates and fences aren’t as harsh looking as metal ones, and can be used to keep them out of other areas when the holiday season is over.”

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