Christmas trees looked pretty much the same each year: embarrassing ornaments my brother and I had made as little kids; strings of colored lights; and every single breakable ornament crammed into the very top branches, where naughty cat paws couldn't reach.My family's
If you have a pet and a Christmas tree, chances are you've also got a problem: cats batting low-hanging decorations, dogs chewing on cords or breaking priceless glass globes with their tails, parakeets perching (and then pooping) on the star at the top.
The best way to keep your pets from messing with your tannenbaum, of course, is ban them from the tree area altogether. No pets in the tree room = no pets in, or under, or eating the tree. But excluding furry family members from a holiday tradition is depressing and a hassle, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of broken heirlooms.
If your pet-related tree drama is on the list below, we might have the solution. (We definitely have sympathy.)
My cat is obsessed with climbing the tree. She's knocked it over twice now, but she still doesn't get it!
Righting a fallen tree is one of the most maddening situations a pet-owner faces, so to prevent your blood from boiling, try these tips.
First, make sure the cat has adequate scratching opportunities elsewhere in the house. She may not be climbing as much as she is sharpening; try putting a scratching post nearby.
If Tiger is still reaching for the sky, some of the same hints that keep cats off counters might work for defelinating your tree: on top of the tree skirt, put down a festive layer of tinfoil, or cardboard with double-sided tape facing up, to deter the cat from walking close enough to the tree.
Maybe she's determined to climb it no matter how many obstacles you put in her way. At least you can keep the tree from tipping over by anchoring it to a nearby wall, or the ceiling, using small hooks and fishing line. And in the unfortunate event that all of this fails, here's how to remove sap from pet fur.
My dog drinks out of the tree stand, then slobbers on all the presents.
As the man once said, this is a package containing two problems. The first is the drinking out of the tree stand, which is not good for your pet. Make plenty of fresh water available elsewhere, and use a tree skirt that folds up around or otherwise covers the water reservoir.
As for the presents, stack them on a nearby table, and/or behind a pet gate, until it's time to open them – and you may want to keep them hidden elsewhere in the house until the last minute.
My cat likes to play with/my dog's tail knocks down any ornament I hang lower than four feet off the ground.
Growing up, we had a number of ornaments that "belonged to" the cats – fabric or felted pieces that could withstand the effects of a kittenish attack. That hideous stuffed candy cane with the rick-rack and the bell is perfect for filling out the lower branches.
If the culprit is a cat, this is another opportunity to try training her away from the tree with foil or tape. If it's a sizeable dog or enthusiastic puppy, anchor the tree as mentioned above – or invest in an adjustable pet gate and arrange it around the tree. (You can even garland it to make it seem like a purposeful decorating choice. Just don't use tinsel; more on that later.)
The dog ate a muffin basket I put under the tree for my aunt – and three other non-food presents that were nearby.
A Christmas tree looks gorgeous with gifts arranged under it. Just ask your dog, who will find that one piece of chocolate in the entire pile and throw a wrench in your joyous Noel.
To prevent unauthorized opening and snacking by the canines, do a last-minute present placement, then take a photo; you can also use a table, or shelving – or decorate with dummy boxes that don't have anything in them. In any case, any food gifts should stay in the fridge, or somewhere else inaccessible to pets, until it's time to give them.
Cats like to pounce on presents too, for different reasons – that curling ribbon is the perfect toy. Or so they think; it's actually terrible for their tummies. Go with fabric or wide velvet ribbons, gift tags, or reusable gift bags instead.
And cranberry/popcorn garlands and candy canes look great, but you're asking for trouble decorating a tree with food. Cran-colored wooden beads look just as nice, are pre-strung, and won't go down the hatch.
The pets are snacking on the needles.
Jokes about fresh breath aside, that's not good. Pine can be toxic to felines, and sharp needles can wreak hell on pet intestines. Relocate your cordless mini-vac for the season, and vacuum up stray needles as needed.
My puppy couldn't care less about the tree itself, but he looooves to chew the tree-light cord.
That's really not good! Give any cords (or other chewables near/on the tree) a spritz with bitter-apple spray or another chewing deterrent – if you're not sure what to use, or how much, call your vet. And make sure Fido has something else to chew on, like a bone or a rope toy.
Keep the cords themselves bound up and out of sight. A cord cover for your floor will do the trick (and make the area look neater as well), and Home Depot or your local hardware store should have what you need.
Fluffy ate some tinsel – help!
Call your vet, pronto; tinsel tears up pets' insides. To prevent a shimmering disaster next time, skip the tinsel altogether and decorate with less dangerous garlands – the red-velvet bows we referred to earlier, construction-paper chains, even origami.
And that artificial tree is very eco-responsible of you – but those trees are often made, basically, of…tinsel. Keep a close eye on the herd, and if they seem to be nibbling on the fronds, go back up this list and try the tape or the pet gate.
Supervision is key. Keep a close eye on the furry members of the household for the first day or two; see how they react to the tree (sometimes they don't care – lucky you!) and whether you'll have to take preventive measures. At night or when you're not at home, put a locking door, or at least a secure pet gate, between your fir and your fur. And don't rule out creative solutions like tiny tabletop trees, or decorating a tree outdoors.
And if you're worried, as always, call your vet. Merry merry!