10 Ways to Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree

or Why Did You Hang Cat Toys All Over This Brand New Climbing Structure and Then Yell at Us When We Play on It?

or, simply, CATNANIGANS.

Black and white cat in front of a Christmas treeThis year I decided to decorate my Christmas tree with kittens.

I knew that having three six-month-old kittens would create a whole new set of issues pertaining to things like ribbon, poinsettias, and structural integrity of any trees we brought into our living room. In case you are in the same boat, I present to you Stimey’s Guide to Cat-Proofing Your Christmas!

1. If you have kittens and think that they will probably not care at all about your bringing a tree—for the love of God, an actual tree—into your living room, check yo’self.

It is likely that my cats have never actually experienced a tree up close. They are enjoying the experience.

It is likely that my cats have never actually experienced a tree up close. They are enjoying the experience.

They will care. Trust me on this one.

2. Tie your tree to a wall. I know. How the hell are you supposed to tie your tree to the wall?

Figure it out.

Christmas tree tied to blinds mechanism.

We disassembled blinds in order to tie ours to the wall.

3. If at all possible, dangle the twine, creating an impromptu cat toy, thus kinda defeating the whole purpose.

cat playing with twine tying christmas tree to wall.

Thanks for finding the Achilles Heel there, Ruby.

4. Whereas a cat knocking over a tree would be a bummer, a cat eating a tree light and being electrocuted would pretty much wreck Christmas, so make your lights as unappealing as possible.

I have no idea how to do that.

I did, however, put our lights on the tree from the bottom up so that any extra dangling wires would be at the top instead of the bottom.

5. Your cats will drink the water in your tree stand. Don’t put poison in it.

cat drinking out of tree stand

Repeat: NO poison.

This goes for poisonous plants as well. Fortunately, I kill every plant I bring into my home, so I don’t bring in additional deadly flowers for the holidays.

6. You think they are ornaments. Your cats think they are sparkly, dangly cat toys that you’ve hung from the tree for their amusement.

I CAN HAZ ORNAMENTZBack when my kids were babies, I bought a lot of nonbreakable ornaments so they couldn’t hurt themselves on our tree. This year I found myself in the Christmas aisle at Target, once again looking for shatterproof blingies. Like then, I was not just looking for safe ornaments, but safe ways to hang them on my tree. For us, that meant tying little strings on about a billion new balls and icicles instead of using sharp, swallowable metal hooks.

silver ornament hung on tree with a silver string

It took a long time.

It took so long that at some point as I was tying all those stupid little strings on the balls, I started to wonder if this was really necessary. The cats would not be all that excited by the ornaments, I thought. They will probably not drop them on the ground and then eat the sharp little hooks, I surmised.

Then I looked down and watched my dumbass cat trying to play with some balls through the plastic box.

Oreo is cute, but she's not the smartest cat in the house.

Oreo is cute, but she’s not the smartest cat in the house.

7. After all of that, your cat will still climb into your tree and your only clue as to where she is will be by localizing the source of the most vigorous shaking of tree branches.

small black cat inside tree

Goddammit, Starfire.

It is, by the way, completely impossible to pull a cat out of a Christmas tree if she’s in by the trunk. Trust me on this one.

8. Give up and station a sentry next to the tree to prevent catastrophes. (CATastrophes. Ha, ha.)

Acknowledge that this still won't help. Please to note the small black cat sneaking under the tree right under the sentry's nose.

Acknowledge that this still won’t help. Please to note the small black cat sneaking under the tree right under the sentry’s nose.

9. Give up, buy a lot of bows (curling ribbon is dangerous for cats who eat it), and realize that your desires have become subordinate to that of three 7-pound cats wandering your house. Get used to picking up a lot of ornaments from your floor after your cats play with them. Try to notice which gifts the cats are chewing the paper off of and put them in the back. Get used to kittens that smell like pine tree. Remain vigilant.

10. Gleefully wait for Christmas morning, which you think is going to be fucking awesome because…kittens…and boxes…and wrapping paper. This makes up for the fact that the bottom quarter of your tree will be entirely trashed and bare of ornaments by the big day. There is always a silver lining.

20 thoughts on “10 Ways to Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree

  1. You’re a better pet owner than I would be. The first time my pet messed with the tree I would say “No. You can go live in the snow now.” and put them outside.

  2. I remember having a conversation years ago about child-proofing our tree so no ornaments were eaten, or the thing didn’t come down on top of anyone trying to climb up it. My friend looked bemused before replying, “ah, you have boys.”
    She could just as well have replaced boys with kittens. Just as cuddly and just as determined to destroy everything in their path.

    Now I really want kittens.

  3. Kittens that smell like pine tree! Sounds lovely, actually! ;)

    Also, I love how you decorated your tree. It’s shiny! With lots of colours! The trees that get decorated in those fancy coordinated colour schemes hurt my soul.

    The plastic box thing? Been there. I think black and white cats have even tinier brains than ordinary cats. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151678532544173&l=7298675088804828720

    Your tips sound very organised. I’ll have to try it sometime.

    • Ha! I just visited that link. Hilarious! I was all, “No, cat! Go over the TOP!”

      As for the many colors, I don’t think I have in the past or ever will in the future have a coordinated tree. I agree with you.

  4. In the second photo, the kitten is standing up JUST like a gerbil.

    The kitten-in-tree photo could also be a meme.
    Tiny Kitten sees Santa!
    Yes, Tiny Kitten, there is a Santa Claus.

    Merry Christmas.

  5. Last year our cat chewed through a string of lights on our tree (at night when the tree was off). Now our tree has been banished to our bedroom, a cat-free zone. I think maybe we’ll try to put the tree out in the main living area again sometime in like five years when we have a seven-year old cat. I’ve heard that’s when they begin to chill out. I can hardly wait.

    • That is my NIGHTMARE. Thanks for bringing it to life. :)

      Suuuuure. They’ll calm down when they’re seven. Suuuure.

  6. A lot of this applies to toddlers, too! I have 2 year old twins and my son is fascinated by the tree ; the lights, the bulbs, the branches, the plug, the surge protector… The bottom 1/3 of my tree is practically denuded. I made a big felt tree with sticker ornaments that they can “decorate” and it has kept my daughter occupied, at least.

  7. We have some bells on our tree so any time I hear them jingle I know the cat is in the tree. So,no, Frank Capra. Jingling bells have nothing to do with angels or wings. Just rotten little kitties being annoying. I, too, took Ornament Precautions. I did not put on any of the breakable ones.

    I will email you a picture I took of our kitten in a tree.

  8. HILARIOUS! Especially since I can relate to this. Our cats are now too big and too old to actually get IN the tree, but they do their utmost to get UNDER the tree skirt every.damn.night.

  9. Between the cats, and the toddler, the bottom 1/3 of my tree is pretty bare of anything. The top third is filled with giant holes and bent branches (our tree is fake) and it’s an unholy mess.

  10. The picture of Starfire under the tree makes my heart melt. Our beloved cat went over the rainbow bridge in April, but every Christmas, from the first year we brought her home, she would dive under the tree- it made putting the tree skirt on quite challenging as she would attack any hand that attempted to enter her domain. I have so many pictures of her peering out of the branches… Enjoy your kittens and your boys over the holidays:-)

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  12. Until my cats got older – actually 7 sounds like a reasonable age for this – at least one of my cats would climb the tree every year. A few ornaments would get broken, but the site of a cat sleeping under the tree always made me happy. I lost 2 cats this year, I miss them but it’s nice to read a catcentric post on someone else’s blog besides mine!

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