Cat versus the Christmas TreeDear Diary: This must be my lucky day as my parents have placed a very large climbing toy in the middle of the living room clearly for my enjoyment. They have placed numerous sparkly objects hanging from limbs for me to bat at as well as silver threads for me to chew on. Unfortunately these don’t taste very good but are fun none the less. There also seams to be shiny bulbs that are blinking at me. I’m not quite sure if they are trying to signal me but the ropes connected to them look like something fun to chew on. My parents have also covered the bottom with a cloth bed for me to lie on and on occasion to hide beneath. I have made numerous attempts to climb to the top but continue to be thwarted as the structure becomes weak and bends. This seams to be when my parents become the most upset and I am spoken to in the “angry” voice. I shall try again tomorrow or maybe while they are sleeping.

Sincerely,
Bartholomew the cat.

Every year in homes all over there world there is an ongoing war between our feline companions and the symbol of Yule tide joy the Christmas tree. You’ve spent hours meticulously decorating it with priceless family heirlooms and memories of Christmases past. Or in our home it is filled with the dried pasta ornaments the children have made over the years. Either way our felines are indiscriminant in their destruction of ornaments. Not only is the destruction of ornaments saddening for us, but many decorations such as tinsel can be detrimental to our pets if ingested. When we think about our tree from our cats’ perspective we have just given them a water bowl, toilet, bed, toy, and scratching post all in one package.

There are many dangers to think about when having a tree in a home with felines. Some have used additives in their tree water; this can contain additives such as fertilizer, aspirin, and other ingredients that can be harmful to cats. Even untreated water as it sits can develop bacteria that could be ingested if they have the ability to drink it. Eating tinsel can cause a linear obstruction in the GI tract of cats that requires surgery to remove. Fake snow, mistletoe, holly, and poinsettias are all toxic to some degree if ingested by a cat and some could be fatal. Lit candles can look like a fun toy but could burn a curious feline. And of course cats can become injured from broken ornaments or a toppled tree.

There are numerous things we can do to help prevent injury in our felines:
1. Use textures that cats don’t like such as tin foil or double sided tape on the skirt to dissuade them from playing under the tree.
2. Keep the water for the tree covered with a top or the tree skirt to prevent them from drinking it.
3. Put most of the breakable ornaments higher up on the tree so the pets will be less tempted to play with them.
4. No Tinsel or dangerous plants in the home.

For your more curious cats here are some more drastic measures:
1. Use repellent sprays or smells such as bitter apple, citronella, or vicks. Also orange peels and citrus can deter a feline from chewing on it.
2. Invest in a very strong stable base to prevent toppling.
3. Before decorating the tree leave it in the room undecorated and discipline the cat for climbing by using plane water in a spray bottle. Sprits the pet and say “NO” when they attempt to climb on the tree.

Tips from the Techs:
“I tie ornaments to the tree. It takes a little longer and you have to cut them off but at least their not spending an evening in the ER.” Susan Griffin
“Trim off the lower branches to prevent pets from eating or brushing against them.” Christina Baxter
“We place our tree in a different room that we can close the door to.” Dr. Alison Fink