As you sit back and take in the glory of your illuminated, pine-scented Christmas tree, remember that you’re not the only family member captivated by its presence. To your cat, this over-sized scratching post represents the true joy of the holiday season: the opportunity to climb branches, bat around ornaments, and nibble on pine needles.
While everyone loves to watch cats play, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant Marilyn Krieger warns that pine is toxic to cats, so it is very important to keep them off the Christmas tree. Oftentimes, these trees are also sprayed with fire retardants that may be toxic to your pet.Krieger notes that in order to prevent your cat from making an ascent to the star at the top of your tree, you may want to cut off the lower branches. Be careful to clean the area thoroughly after removing the branches, as “sap is also toxic.”
It’s also important to decorate with trimmings that are cat-friendly in case your feline companion is able to get a hold of them. “Tinsel can cut a cat’s intestines if swallowed,” says Krieger. “It’s better to decorate with ornaments that are not breakable, and make sure that they are fastened onto the tree.”
Krieger suggests that while it is ideal to keep your cat out of the room with the Christmas tree, it may be more realistic to give your cat other things to do besides play on and around the tree. “Play with your cat to tire him out before you go into the room with the tree.”
An artificial tree can sometimes be a healthier option for cat owners who have a particularly curious kitty, but if you insist on having an authentic tree in your home, it may in your best interest to invest in some extra catnip.