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I love the month of December… Hot cinnamon chocolates, wrapping gifts with Christmas music, street lights… I love this time of year!
And another thing of course that I love about this time of year is making my Christmas tree!
And if you’re like me, you might be wondering every year how will it be this time around? Will my cat climb into the tree and drop everything?
But why do cats love Christmas trees ?
Here is a hell of a question that I will try to answer, while also bringing you some tips to avoid the carnage!
The Christmas Tree Is Something New in the House
“First of all, you bring something new and fragrant to their territory”, say Mikel Delgado, a cat specialist at UC Davis’ School of Veternary Medicine in the United States. “When cats are in familiar territory, they often want to examine something new! And the tree displays scents from the outside and a scratchy bark of which there is a lot to examine”.
Why Do Cats Love Christmas Trees? The Christmas Tree Is a Real Playground!
You would think that a cat who lives in a house with a garden, or even with hectares of land, should not be tempted by the Christmas tree… Well yes he can climb trees as long as he wants outside!
Well no, even if it is lucky for your cat to be able to frolic outside and climb trees, the Christmas tree that is inside his house is quite another thing!
Whether it’s an indoor cat or an outdoor cat, one thought remains: “This thing wasn’t here before… What is it ?! I will explore it all!”.
Any new element that comes into the house is something to be explored… so just imagine this tree enthroned, full of lights, flashing, with all these things dangling and shining. A real dream come true!
And if you have a kitten… then the game is over! And that’s great (because it’s super funny anyway!).
A kitten discovers life. Everything around him has an interest in him. So a shining Christmas tree… this is a real paradise!
Take advantage of this moment to watch with love and kindness your kitten opening to the world. Rest assured, the more the cat grows, the more he gets used to the tree, and the less damage he will do.
Yes, cats love Christmas trees because they are treasures of stimulation for them!
The Cat Is a Natural Climber
It’s a well-known fact: if you see your cat lounging on the floor or on a couch very often, felines love to climb things too. Sometimes even when they don’t climb at all! A natural instinct that they could have inherited from a distant ancestor living in the trees.
Either way, in this case, your tree can be a great climbing opportunity. Also, seeing a tree in the middle of the house… which is not your traditional cat tree… which has a lot of things dangling, shining and rustling, it’s super tempting!
If you also install a shiny decoration at the top of your tree, it will not take more to convince your cat that he must climb to the top, even if the tree seems not very resistant to his attacks.
The Smell of Nature
Another hypothesis why cats love Chrsitmas trees could be that cats are attracted to the smell of fir trees.
A good smell of nature that comes home, like when you receive flowers!
Have you noticed how quickly the cat will sniff his head in the bunches of flowers? So a big tree like that… It’s tempting!
Okay, cats climb artificial Christmas trees too…! But hey, we can’t deny that a natural Christmas tree has to be even more attractive!
One could speculate that cats love Christmas trees because they smell like nature (even if it is a fake tree!).
Your Cat Is Craving Attention
For the past few days, your cat has seen you actively preparing for Christmas: you wrap the presents, you decorate the tree, the house… And, irreparably, he feels a little neglected.
To get your attention again, then he has a simple reasoning: since my human spends a lot of time on the Christmas tree, so am I.
Not to mention that when your feline inadvertently knocks over fragile decorations, you seem to be paying him more attention.
But even if this attention is negative, because you scold him, for your cat it is still attention!
What to Do If your Cat Keeps on Climbing in the Christmas Tree?
One thing is certain, if you do not want any surprises, it is better not to put a tree! But from my point of view, it is better to opt to let go…
Choosing the Right Tree
Synthetic or natural? Both will fall prey to your feline. Chances are he’ll try to climb it or eat the branches.
For a real tree, study the appearance of the needles carefully when buying and keep in mind that they are likely to be ingested by your pet.
So try to favor a tree that loses its needles little, like the Nordmann tree.
Of course, a synthetic fir has the advantage of not losing its needles, but the fibers used can be toxic to your cat.
Focus on Stability
It is essential that your tree is stable. Rather than a wooden log that may not withstand your cat’s weight, opt for heavier feet.
While the sunshade base works well with small trees whose trunk is not too big, this is not necessarily the case with larger trees.
You can then place it in a container filled with sand, which you will remember to cover (if you do not want to find your living room transformed into a sandbox).
A stable tree reduces the risk of falls, and that goes for both pets and young children.
Decorate your Tree Accordingly
My advice: wait a few days before decorating your tree. Especially if your cat is young, some adaptation time may be necessary.
During these few days, try to be firm and prevent him as much as possible from climbing or playing with the branches.
When he starts to get used to it you can start decorating it.
Avoid as much as possible glass decorations (which will break and could injure your pet or a child) or too small (risk of ingestion).
Try to lighten the lowest part of your tree, which is at your pet’s eye level and is a too great temptation.
Pay Attention to Garlands
Christmas garlands represent a real risk for your pet. Often shiny and fluffy, they are very attractive, and even appetizing! He may therefore try to chew and swallow them, which poses a risk of suffocation.
As for the garlands, don’t forget to secure the electrical outlets, but also not to position them too low in your tree.
Don’t Punish the Cat
Climbing is instinctive in cats. It’s in their nature. So you can’t go against his instincts! Punishing him won’t help at all.
As with anything else, punishment is counterproductive and causes or reinforces behavioral concerns in cats. Quite a shame, right?
Play More with your Cat
In order to divert your cat’s attention as much as possible, play with him more!
Offer him more toys, more activity, to divert his attention.
Even if, let’s be clear, that won’t prevent him from being tempted by the decorated Christmas tree!!
But hey, playing with him a little more will still turn him off a bit.
Think of the papillotes paper for example, or offer him a mini Christmas tree with decorations and/or bells just for him!
Use a Repellent
As much to tell you right away, this is frankly not my preferred solution. Try it if all the other solutions have failed.
Certain smells put off our feline friends. Take a container with a spray tip, and spray your tree (before decorating it) with lemongrass essential oil, or citrus juices such as lemon or orange.
These smells bother most cats and will stop them climbing to your tree.
Do Not Leave Him Unattended
Don’t look for trouble, and keep an eye on your furball! Especially at night, close the room where the Christmas tree is located, so as not to have any unpleasant surprises when you wake up.
Let It Go
Letting go is the easiest solution to fully enjoy the magic of Christmas! The letting go and the humor!
Tell yourself this is his moment, his stimulating Christmas present. A time when he will have even more fun, be curious and interested in everything around him!
Not bad as a stimulation, right? Even more for a less stimulated indoor cat in general (despite our best efforts!).
If you have a kitten, rest assured, growing up it will get better!
Even though some cats go mad their entire lives, many others calm down on the following Christmases. Tell yourself that you are going to live two or three eventful years but that it will eventually be fine!
And last but not least… be zen! And enjoy the present moment, with a smile, kindness, with the spirit of Christmas!
Your Cat and your Christmas Tree
If you are lucky enough to live in the company of a cat, you must have something to say about the overwhelming love of our four-legged friends for Christmas trees! Go ahead, let go in the comments!