How to survive Christmas without killing your cats.

Is it possible? If you follow these 10 tips, then absolutely yes…

A small christmas tree hangs off the ceiling out of reach of all animals.

The photo above is mine. A few years ago, we had THREE kittens and we weren’t sure how they would react to the large tree that we were intending to put up in the kichen/dining area. Rather than risk it, we removed the top 1/3 of the tree and hung it from the ceiling. The cats were fascinated, but because it was too far away, the most they did was stare at it from a safe distance.

We have, since then, lost a few baubles which we THOUGHT were plastic, but turned out to be a very fine glass. But I guess you only know that when the damn thing shatters on the floor, right? Then you’ve got to act swiftly so little paws don’t get hurt!

But there ARE ways to make Christmas a little more stress-free for everyone involved. Remember first and foremost, cats are CURIOUS creatures so anything that flashes, crackles and twinkles will require investigation.

And also, we’re bringing the tree into THEIR territory, so in their minds, they’re entitled to investigate it, or attack it if necessary. We can’t blame them for this, we’re cat lovers for a reason and we can’t change their inherent behaviour, can we?

  1. If at all possible, try to have your tree in a room that the cats don’t have access to. That way you can knock yourself out by not having to worry about anything precious breaking. This year, we’re having our main big tree in our bedroom (it’s a long story as to why they’re now allowed in the bedroom but that’s another post for another day) so that I can actually hang my beautiful glass ornaments that I got from the Christmas markets in Germany. We’ll still decorate the rest of the house with lights and tinsel, but we’ll know that the fragile ornaments will be safe.
  2. If you’re worried about the tree toppling over, see if you can tie it to the ceiling. Also, put the tree far enough away from anything that could be used as a launch spot, such as sofa arms, bookshelves, coffee tables, etc.
  3. Use cat-safe decorations like feathers, pine cones, wooden ornaments, large hard plastic ornaments, or perhaps even dried orange slices. (They won’t like the citrus smell.)
  4. If you’re going to use ornaments that you ARE worried about, don’t put them on the edges of the tree, but rather nestle them more towards the middle so they’re not dangling in the face of any curious felines.
  5. Use battery-operated tree lights JUST in case the cats decide that the cable requires nibbling. Rather than getting a nasty shock, you’re likely just to lose that string of lights (and not your cat!)
  6. Pine needles CAN be dangerous for cats so if you’re worried about them nibbling the tree, settle for an artificial tree and opt for hanging pine tree cuttings in places where cats can’t reach (Is there such a place?)
  7. Remember NOT to leave any string or ribbon lying around when you’ve been present-wrapping. These can get tangled inside their tummies or even worse, start coming out the other end which means either you fishing it out, or a vet visit. Not ideal when you’re half way through your roast potatoes.
  8. Be careful with some Christmas plants which are toxic to cats: amaryllis, holly berries, mistletow, peace lily and pointsettia are all harmful for your feline fur babies.
  9. It goes without saying to be careful of unattended candles. Even if cats aren’t interested in the candles themselves, they might inadvertantly knock them over in a moment of excitement.
  10. And lastly, remember that the extra activities, noise and flashes, might be stressful for your cat so always make sure they’ve always got somewhere quiet to get away for their own peace and quiet.

Of course there’s lots of positives too. Like letting your cats sleep and play in the boxes that gifts came in. Or scrunching up wrapping paper and throwing it around the room for your cats to chase and pounce on? AND, if you sprinkle some treats IN that scrunched up paper, they’ll be EXTRA keen to chase and catch those paper balls.

Do you have cats? How do YOU survive Christmas? Do you have any tips and tricks for making sure your Christmas tree, decorations, and festive layouts survive? Feel free to comment below to share your findings, experiences, etc.

A black cat wearing a Santa hat