Few things say Christmas is almost here as much as a Christmas tree ... and whether it is real or artificial, the feline members of the household are likely to think the Christmas tree is a special gift just for them to play with, in and on. Of course, by "play" we mean climb, knock over (Timber-r-r-r!), swat ornaments off, chew light cords, and generally just think of it as one giant kitty playground.
While some cats are just mischievous, others can be downright destructive. The adventurous cat can knock the Christmas trees over, causing injury to itself, damaging furniture or even causing a fire. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to curb any cat's enthusiasm for annoying the Christmas tree. Remember, there is no one way that will work for every cat ... so be prepared to try different methods until you find the one that works for your wayward feline.
A Purr-fect Sound System
Cats have sensitive hearing and you can use that sensitivity to teach your cat to stay away from the tree.
- Clapping: As your cat attempts to climb the Christmas tree, clap once, loudly and clearly. The sound should be loud enough to startle the cat and cause it to jump out of the tree. The cat will understand that climbing the tree is wrong and with some repetition, should leave the tree alone.
- Empty Soda Cans: Prop a few empty soda cans in the lower branches of the tree. If your cat starts to climb the tree, the sound of the cans falling to the floor may startle the cat just enough to deter it from trying again. Note, this method does not work well if the floor underneath the tree is carpeted.
There are certain smells that the average cat finds distinctly unpleasant. By introducing the offensive odors around the area of the tree, you can deter cats from exploring it further. Scent repellents seem to work better on artificial trees than real ones, probably because the scent of a real tree will overpower the product meant to repel the feline.
- Citrus: Many cats do not like the smell of orange or lemon. Citrus scented products are usually available in a store\ grocery or cosmetic department. Just sprinkle the citrus-scented product beneath the tree.
- Moth Balls: Many cats dislike the smell of moth balls. Scatter a few around the base of the tree and it may be enough to keep kitty away. Unfortunately most human also dislike the scent of moth balls, so this may deter from their enjoyment of the tree too.
- Clove: Clove is another scent cats tend to dislike.
- Commercial Spray Repellents: There is a variety of commercial aerosol sprays advertised specifically as cat repellents. Of course they do not work on all cats, but are well worth a try.
- Motion Detectors: If you prefer a more high tech solution, you can purchase a motion detector that sprays a burst of compressed air or a spritz of citronella as it detects the approach of a cat, startling the feline away. Once the cat associates the Christmas tree with a spray to the face, the ornaments usually stay safe. The Ssscat spray kit by Multivet is a good choice, widely available, and sells for about $50.
Of course, cats as a species have a reputation for disliking water, so a little aversion therapy can be quite effective.
- Spritz Bottle: Keep a spray bottle close at hand and squirt the cat whenever it approaches the tree. Putting a couple tablespoons of vinegar in the spray bottle with the water can make it even more offensive to the stubborn kitty.
- Water Pistol: For longer range targets, consider purchasing a water pistol. The stream of water will reach farther and can be more accurate than using a spray bottle.
While kitty may love grasping a toy in its paws, the average feline is quite finicky about what it walks on.
- Upside-down Plastic Carpet Runner: If a cat is getting under a tree and clawing the trunk, it may be discouraged if you place a length of plastic carper runner UPSIDE DOWN so the pointy, plastic nubs are face up. If the cat starts to walk across the mat, the nubs are uncomfortable on the bottom of its paws and may deter the cat from walking further.
- Tin Foil: Many cats will not walk on a moat of tinfoil laid around the bottom of the tree.
- Electric Scat Mat: The company that manufactures the Ssscat motion detector spray also makes a Ssscat Mat. This battery operated mat gives off a mild electrical shock when a cat walks on it. This works well for the stubborn kitty that is not deterred by other methods.
Finally, just like an errant toddler, a time out can be effective with a cat. If you catch your feline starting to climb the tree, rescue it from the branches and place it under a laundry basket or in a cat carrier for 5 minutes.
Just because you own a cat, it doesn't mean you cannot have a Christmas tree. Cats are intelligent creatures and if you persevere, the average kitty will soon get the message that the Christmas tree is not its personal playground.