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10 Steps to Cat Proofing Your Christmas Tree, Part 2

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Step Six: When choosing ornaments, pick those that are less likely to be attractive to your cats. Some ornaments will prove irresistible because they sparkle, glow, dangle and shimmer.

One the other hand, blander, less shiny, or flat matte objects which don’t dangle much will have less allure for your cat. Felt, paper and plain decorations might be the best choice (at the bottom). And avoid anything that dangles a lot, jumps about or spins, at least towards the reach of your cat’s leap (middle to top of tree = safe). Never put catnip stuffed items on the tree. Now you know that’s just asking for it.

Consider not having certain decorations at all. Tinsel is potentially hazardous for cats who like to chew and swallow it. Tinsel is not recommended for households with cats because it can cause choking or other internal problems if swallowed, such as intestinal blockage. So can ribbons and other items with length that dangle from the tree. Artificial snow is toxic and should not be used when you have pets and small children. Christmas is stressful and expensive enough without the emergency surgery necessary to save your cat's life if sharp-edged tinsel slices through the intestinal wall or causes a blockage.

If you like decorating the tree with food, be careful what you add. Chocolate of any kind is toxic for cats and the odor may be tempting to them if hung from the tree. Lots of sweets aren't healthy either.

Step Seven: Place decorations that are especially delicate, enticing or dangerous high up the tree, in the top two-thirds of the tree. Your cat is less likely to reach for higher parts of the tree (provided you’ve ensured there are no leaping ledges or spots nearby), which will help to keep these items safe. Tinsel, if used at all, should be placed up high as it is likely to be dragged off by a curious car and as already noted, it can be very harmful if ingested, including getting caught in the stomach and intestines. Some people choose to not even decorate the lower third of the tree at all. That way, there is nothing of interest at cat's eye level.
 Some cats cannot help themselves and will climb up high whatever you do. If your cat is like this, then avoid having any delicate or potentially dangerous items on the tree at all.

Step Eight: Attach ornaments onto the tree securely so that they cannot be simply pelted or lifted off. Use metal hooks that clamp to the tree and avoid using string, rubber bands or anything else dangly to attach the ornaments with. When you've attached the decorations, give them a tug to check that the method of attaching that you've used is adequate and requires dexterous strength to remove.
 Hang ornaments by using quality wire ornament hangers. Use a pair of pliers to clamp the hook part around the branch so that it doesn't dangle and cannot be simply pulled off.

Step Nine: Be careful with electrical wires and lighting. A Christmas tree is complete when its lights are on but the wires can prove too much of a temptation to a curious kitty. Be sure to tape down excess wire and to make it too hard for the cat to reach the power point and cord join. Do not leave any wires dangling – wrap wire around the base or tree rather than having it dangling anywhere.

It can also be helpful to cover exposed wires in wire covers or piping to prevent the cat from chewing them.
 Cords can also be coated in "Bitter Apple".
 Plug the tree lights into a short indoor extension cord and tape the plug into the socket with electrical tape. Simply unplug the lights from the extension cord to turn off.
 Consider using cords that shut off if damaged.
 Always turn off Christmas tree lights when there is no responsible adult in the room to keep an eye on them.

Step Ten: Relax now. You've done all you can to secure the tree and to make it a safe experience for your cat. Some cats will climb into the tree whatever you do and provided you've made it safe, it's best to reach a place of acceptance about this and go with the flow.

Decide to make it your cat's Christmas and decide that you are not going to get frustrated trying to outsmart your cat this Christmas. Provided you've secured the tree to keep it from toppling and properly clamped ornaments to the branches, you will be able to cope if your cat does hop into the tree. And if that happens, be ready to take pictures of your cat sleeping in the Christmas tree branches – and smile.


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