For the first time in almost 20 years, there are cats living under my roof again. Actually, they are kittens. And they are eyeing the Christmas tree we brought home over the weekend with equal parts wide-eyed wonder and mischievous delight. To keep the peace — and maintain my sanity — I looked up a few tips on helping kitties and Christmas trees co-exist. Here are some that have worked for us:
1. Choose your tree wisely. If you think your kitty is likely to climb and knock over the tree, pick a smaller tree this year that will cause less damage when toppled. Or you might want to settle for a small tabletop tree that can be closed off in another room when the cats are out and about.
2. Put up road blocks. Depending upon the size of your tree — and your kitten — you may be able to place obstacles around your tree that will keep kitty away. Remove chairs and tables that might serve as a launching pad to help your cat jump higher into the tree. And try wrapping the tree base with aluminum foil because most cats don't like to dig their nails into this.
3. Spray some stink. There are a number of spray repellents you can use to keep cats away from your tree. We have been using Bitter Apple spray with some success. Other choices include citronella or citrus oils sprayed directly on the tree, or a diluted vinegar solution sprayed on the tree's base.
4. Decorate judiciously. It won't matter how much stink you spray on your tree, if it is covered with sparkly, dangly baubles, your cat will be hard-pressed to resist. Don't hang any breakable or edible decorations on the lower half of the tree. And if possible, keep the lowest branches of the tree free from all ornaments and potential temptations. Skip the tinsel this year as cats will be far too tempted to eat it when it inevitably hits the ground.
5. Contain cords. Dangling electrical cords are an invitation for a kitty to play and bite. Tape cords to the wall from the outlet to the tree to keep them — and your cat — out of harm's way. And remember to unplug lights when you are not at home.