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It’s the holiday season once again, and you know what that means. It’s time to put up the Christmas tree! This is a family tradition that has been done for hundreds of years, and this year should be no exception.
You’ve put up the lights, the tinsel, the candy canes, and all the ornaments, and all that’s left is the star on top of the tree.
While you’re gathering the family for the final touch on your tree, you suddenly hear a loud crash. In the living room, the Christmas tree that you’ve spent hours putting up has crashed.
The culprit? Your family cat.
Has this ever happened to you? How do you prevent it for next Christmas and the next ones after that? First, you have to know why cats just love to climb Christmas trees and how you can prevent them from getting their paws (and claws) on them.
Why Do Cats Like to Climb Christmas Trees?
You are lucky if your cat has, in the previous years, treated Christmas trees nonchalantly. This is because not all cats are the same. For others, though, this is not the case, and that is the issue that we would like to address.
There is a wide variety of reasons as to why cats like to climb Christmas trees. While these reasons are known only to the cats themselves, we can make some very safe assumptions.
Cats Like High Places
Cats are natural climbers, and whenever they see something that they can reach so that they are higher than the rest of the family, then these felines will go for it.
This is also the reason why cats like to jump on tops of cabinets, tables, and other furniture and appliances.
For as long as they have a high perch, they can survey the surroundings and see possible threats to them. Unfortunately, the Christmas tree provides that exact bird’s eye view that most cats prefer.
Cats Like New Things
Cats are very curious creatures. They are inquisitive about new things that are presented to them, whether directly or indirectly.
Naturally, if they see a large object not familiar to them and, more importantly, something that you pay special attention to, they would like to know what all the fuss is about.
This will cause cats to explore and use their senses to know what the object is. They will first approach cautiously and steal glances. Afterward, they will gain enough confidence to come closer and perhaps sniff near the tree.
Once emboldened, they will touch the decorations and eventually climb up. It is an inevitable process that should be stopped at the early stages.
Cats See Shiny Things as Toys
Going back to cats’ natural tendencies to be curious, cats just love shiny things, and nothing is shinier than what goes on Christmas trees. Add to that the tinsel and Christmas lights and you’ve got a cat magnet right there.
Cats will gravitate towards shiny objects. They love how the light reflects on these objects and they will try to touch and move them, or even knock them off the tree.
When cats see these shiny ornaments and designs, they will do their best to reach them even if they have to climb the entire tree. Curiosity may kill the cat but it will definitely bring the Christmas tree down along with it.
Cats Love to Scratch
This reason holds true especially for those that do not have artificial trees. Natural trees will have bark, and bark is something that cats love to scratch.
Tree bark has that perfect texture that cats can use to keep their claws sharp. They will use this as a makeshift scratching post and they may even actually see it as one and not the festive centerpiece that it is supposed to be.
Luckily, this is a quality that most artificial trees do not have as the surfaces are often smooth and shiny. This makes them not very much suitable for cat-scratching activities.
Cats are Territorial
Cats are fiercely territorial, and they will try to claim the tree when it has been put up. This is especially true if there are other cats or even dogs around the house.
In cats’ minds, if their scent is on the tree, then they basically own it. Sometimes they will also urinate on them.
Cats will have the instinctive need to mark every possible surface of the tree to mark their territory. This means climbing to the very top, if necessary.
Cats Smell Something That They Like
Natural trees have the smell of nature. Candy canes will smell sweet. Even dust and other scents will attract the cat’s curiosity. This will increase the chances of cats wanting to explore and eventually climb the trees.
Cats naturally explore via scent, like dogs. If they smell something new or attractive to them, then they will attempt to observe further, climbing included.
What Cat Breeds Like to Climb Trees?
Almost all pet cats climb. This holds true especially for those who have not been neutered or spayed. There are some breeds, however, that are notoriously known for the incessant need to climb high structures, Christmas trees included.
Some of the breeds that like to climb include:
- Bengal cats
- Norwegian forest cats
- Somali cats
- Cornish rex
- Savannah cats
- Siamese cats
Most of these cats, and even those not included in the list, will climb literally anything if given the opportunity. They can also jump from one spot to another and love to explore things not familiar to them.
Different cats will have different personalities regardless of breed. If you notice that your cat is an incessant climber, then make sure to do the steps mentioned below to help prevent them from climbing Christmas trees and other places that they should not.
The Dangers of Cats Climbing Christmas Trees
There are several dangers that can arise from cats climbing Christmas trees. These can range from major to minor depending on how you look at it.
First and foremost, if your cat climbs your Christmas tree, then there is the risk of ornaments falling or breaking, or having the whole shebang crashing down.
Not only will the Christmas tree come undone, but it can also potentially damage other items, like vases and glass, on the way down.
Christmas trees can also be quite heavy. A falling tree can not only damage property, but it can also harm humans and other pets.
The decorations can also harm your cat even if the tree itself does not fall down. Tinsel and Christmas lights can tangle around the cat’s neck, causing them to choke. They may also fall awkwardly, leading to injury.
If your cat likes to chew, small pieces of your ornaments may break off. They can then choke on loose objects as they become lodged in your cat’s throat. Even tinsel is a potential choking hazard.
If your cat chews on the lights, they may get shocked. It can also cause short circuitry that can cause fires. Falling trees can likewise pull on your electrical wires and can likewise cause similar types of damage.
What are the Ways to Stop Cats from Climbing Christmas Trees?
There are many methods that you can use to stop your cat from climbing trees. Some might work on your cat while others would not. Try these strategies one at a time and see which ones will be the most effective.
Sometimes, a simple firm and stern “No” can be spoken to your cat if he attempts to come near or climb your tree. Most cats are intuitive and understand their owners, and this can often be enough to dissuade them from doing it again.
If your cat moves away from the tree, give him a treat. This enforces positive discipline and the cat will know that staying away from the Christmas tree is considered as good behavior and will be rewarded.
Make the Tree Inaccessible to Your Cat
Place boxes, fences, or other borders around your Christmas tree. This can be very effective although cats can still jump over those obstacles. Still, some cats may lack interest if they see that it would be difficult to reach your tree.
It can also be unsightly but you can also make some makeshift designs on these borders to make them part of the ensemble.
Make it a point, too, to make sure that your tree is not within jumping distance from other surfaces. These include tables, cabinets, and couches.
You may cordon off and block access to your tree along with the other strategies mentioned in this section.
Spray Cat Deterrents
Some cats do not like certain smells. Spraying the area with scents that they do not like can be an effective method to keep your cat away from the Christmas tree.
Smells like citrus, peppermint, lemongrass, and citronella can be used as natural sprays. Simply mix them in some water and spray them around your Christmas tree.
There are also readily available commercial cat deterrent sprays that you can use. Just make sure to check reviews and make sure that they are safe for your cat.
Get a Scratching Post for Your Cat
Some scratching posts also have climbing structures built into them. This will give your cat a place to climb and to sharpen their claws.
Scratching posts are relatively cheap as you can buy them online or in pet shops. You can even build one yourself using scrap wood and some sandpaper.
You can train your cat on how to use the scratching post, and you can also spray some catnip spray on it so your cat would focus more on the post for scratching rather than on your furniture or your Christmas tree.
Keep Your Cat Busy
Sometimes, climbing behavior can be suppressed if you help your cat expend his energy. Climbing behavior can also be triggered because of simple boredom and lack of interactivity.
Make sure to spend some quality time with your cat. You can play games or simply give him time to exercise. If you have a yard, let him out so he can run around and climb.
This also helps your cat relieve some stress and anxiety as well as energy. Not only will this result in a healthier and more behaved cat, but it can also help your Christmas tree retain its good condition.
If you are not able to play with your cats on a regular basis, make it a point to have some toys handy to keep them occupied. The more time that they spend with toys, the less time they’ll have to get up to some mischief with your tree.
Place Aluminum Foil Around the Tree
Another hack that you can use is to have some aluminum lying around near your Christmas tree. This should be in the form of balls, not balls, in order to be effective.
Aluminum, although shiny, is an effective cat repellent because they don’t like to feel of the material when they step on it. It may also sound cruel but aluminum can also give your cat a mild shock caused by static electricity, which can be a pretty good deterrent to keep your cat away.
Some cat owners swear that aluminum is a very effective deterrent, so this is something that you can try out for yourself.
Don’t let your cats climbing Christmas trees ruin the holidays. Do these tried and tested tips to keep your cat, your tree, and your family safe.
Cats can and will climb as it is in their nature. The best that you can really do is take measures to discourage your cat’s climbing tendencies and, barring that, make sure that your tree does not fall on anything that will cause more concern of damage.
By ensuring that your furry friend is safely on the ground, you can be content knowing that your tree is also secure throughout the holiday season.