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Cats and Christmas Trees

Posted In: Behavior & Training, Feline Health & Wellness

Instinctively, cats like to perch and hang out in high places. It gives them a good vantage point of everything going on below. Plus, being up high allows cats to better protect themselves from possible dangers that lurk below. Naturally, the Christmas tree is a great place for your cat to hang out. Imagine your cat’s delight when a new climbing place with dangling toys appears in your house each December!

Unfortunately, there are dangers when it comes to cats and the Christmas tree. If your cat chews on the lights or cords, they could be electrocuted. If ingested, decorations and tinsel could cause gastrointestinal problems or obstruction. Glass ornaments could pose an additional danger if your cat knocks them off the tree and the ornaments shatter.

When it comes to live Christmas trees, there are even more concerns. The oils from trees and tree needles can cause gastrointestinal trouble, and if cats eat the needles, those needles could puncture his or her intestinal lining. But, the most dangerous part of the live tree is the water in the tree’s base. The pine sap, preservatives, and fire retardant in the water is harmful to cats.

So what can you do to keep your cat away from the Christmas tree? Cats don’t typically like the smell of citrus. You can purchase a safe citrus deterrent online or at pet supply stores. Just be sure you don’t spray your cat – it is only for spraying the tree and base. You can also cover the base with foil since many cats don’t like the feel and sound of foil.

When all else fails, you may decide to move the tree to a room with a closed door or consider an alternative to the traditional Christmas tree. A quick internet search will bring up many wonderful and unique ideas.

If you go with a live or artificial tree, don’t punish your cat for climbing the Christmas tree. It is completely natural for them to want to climb, and punishing them only causes them fear you. Also, it is  important to always keep your veterinarian’s and pet poison hotline phone numbers handy in case of an emergency or accidental ingestion. 

The Animal Medical Center of Mid-America has veterinarians at two locations that can answer questions about your pet’s health. Call 314-951-1534 or click here to request an appointment online.