Our feline friends get almost as excited as our kids at Christmas, with all those new smells, shiny, dangling things, and all those cardboard boxes, it’s a kitty cat’s dream!
But there is one more holiday tradition that cats adore – the Christmas tree. Exploring the depths of the Christmas tree satisfies a feline’s natural curiosity and instincts – cats climb trees outside after all, and they feel safe shrouded by foliage and up high away from all the visiting relatives.
But when your cat clambers up your freshly decorated tree, knocking off the glass baubles, getting tangled in the fairy lights, and almost toppling the entire thing onto the pile of unwrapped presents sat beneath, it isn’t exactly what you want when you are already rushed off your feet prepping for the festive season.
You may have already been looking into ways you can start cat-proofing your Christmas tree but one trainer has offered up some alternative hacks on Instagram that could save your Christmas from a cat-astrophe.
Specialist veterinary technician with expertise in animal behavior, Tabitha from Chirrups and Chatter, posted her expert tips to her Insta followers – and they stray away from the traditional techniques of aversion therapies, instead focusing on keeping your kitty content.
“Let’s stop using aversives (an item or action that causes your cat to be annoyed, scared, or hurt) to keep cats out of Christmas trees and instead focus on what motivates the behavior,” Tabitha explains.
“I have been seeing a lot of posts recommending using strong aversive scents like essential oils or oranges around the tree or spraying your cat with water to keep them out of the tree, not only do these things not address the behavior but can cause fear and stress in your cat. Also, parts of oranges and essential oils are toxic to your cat.”
Watch trainer Tabitha's tips to stop cats climbing Christmas trees
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Cats are naturally curious creatures, but as the old saying goes, curiosity is ultimately their downfall. Have you noticed that any time you bring in the groceries or a new bag of shopping your cat will smell it? Well, imagine how many new smells are introduced at Christmas.
Tabitha’s advice stresses the importance of providing your cat with alternatives to climbing the tree, such as offering them their very own cat tree all year round to satisfy their cravings for height and scratching, cat grass so they can chew on something that isn’t your festive decor, and comfy spots near the tree so they can feel in on the action and have a far more appealing spot to chill. If these fail, there is always the option to prevent your cat access to the tree.
Tabitha’s tips also shine some light on the cat’s motivations and how important it is to pay attention to why your cat is acting in a certain way. For example, cats will often spray or scratch to mark territory, so simply shouting at your cat or coating an area with substances to ward off your cat very rarely works effectively, and could even make behaviors worse.
Try and figure out what could be causing your furry friend’s stress because deciphering their behaviors will make you a better cat parent. Of course, always get your cat checked over by a veterinarian if they display any destructive behaviors or anything out of character. They might not be able to verbalize their issues, but they will show you in plenty of other ways so pay attention!
Looking for other ways to keep your kitty busy? Find all the best cat toys in our dedicated guide.
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