Bringing a Christmas tree into a house with cats can be risky business -- not only did you just unknowingly provide your cats with a brand new scratching post, but now it's covered with delicate ornaments that are basically asking to be knocked off the tree by their meddling mits. This isn’t to say that you should avoid having a Christmas tree if you have cats, but rather, that you should take some precautions if you want to keep your tree intact.
One strategy some have found useful is to appease the tree-attacking nature of their cats by giving them a tree of their own. Scold them for batting at the big tree, and praise them for playing with the cat tree, and in most cases the cat will learn that the little tree is for them and end up leaving the bigger tree alone. There are a few different methods for making a tree for your cat:
Get a Tree
Craft stores are bursting with mini Christmas trees this time of year. Pick one with minimal things-cats-can-chew-off, like a simple set of branches from which you can hang treats. Avoid anything spray-painted, fake-snowed, or pine-needled. Set up this cat-safe tree in one of your cat's favorite spots, hang a few treats and toys off the branches, and maybe sprinkle some catnip on top to let them know that this tree is for them.
Make a Tree
If you don’t feel like going out and buying a second tree (and nobody would blame you for it), you can throw together a little mock tree for your cat, and chances are they won’t know the difference, or at the very least, care. Tape together some paper towel rolls in the shape of a small tree, cover it in treats and call it a day.
Deck the Scratching Post
Possibly the easiest method on the list, just take their scratching post, make it Christmas-y with some holiday-shaped treats as ornaments, and set them loose. While it may not distract in the same way as the actual tree might, it is likely going to be more durable than your homemade tree.
Other ways to keep your cat off your Christmas tree:
Isolate the tree - Cats tend to throw themselves at the tree from atop a chair or table, so the further away your tree is from other platforms, the less likely your cat is to do damage to the tree.
Cover it in Citrus - Did you know that cats really dislike citrus? Hold a lemon up to your cat's face and see what happens. It won’t hurt them (just don’t squeeze it on them) and it keeps them off of pretty much anything. Hang a few peels off some branches and consider your tree cat free.
More On Pet Holiday Preparation
17 of the Coolest Cat Christmas Presents
A Guide to the Best Christmas Gifts for Dogs
Pet Safety for the Holidays Infographic