By Stephanie Heim
Cats climb trees so it should come as no surprise when they want to climb the only tree that’s available this time of year. Unfortunately, this just happens to be your Christmas tree decorated from top to bottom with your grandmother’s priceless antique ornaments. Instead of fighting with Kitty this year, why not try anticipating trouble before it happens. Here are some tips to make sure that you, Kitty and your family heirlooms all remain safe.

 Claim the tree as your territory. No, this doesn’t mean chasing your cat through the house growling and hissing. Simply set up the tree and leave it undecorated for a few days. Most of the time, the cat will explore and then get bored and leave it alone. But take that time to let your cat know that the tree belongs to you. Whenever they approach it, use your handy-dandy water bottle and give Kitty a quick spritz. But note, an undecorated tree is key with the water bottle method, since you obviously don’t want to electrocute your cat.
  To help your cat develop an aversion to the tree, leave orange peels around the bottom. Cats don’t like the smell of citrus, which can be used to your advantage. If you get tired of having dried out orange peels lying around your tree, then pick up some Bitter Apple. It’s a repellent to pets so spray the whole tree with it while it’s still undecorated. Since the apple scent dissipates quickly, you can refresh every couple of days, as long as the lights are unplugged. Keep it safe, people.
  Maybe you want a more decorative option for keeping your cat away from those shiny baubles. So, pile pine cones under the tree, because cats absolutely hate walking on them (who knew?) Spray the pine cones with some citronella or bitter apple and the cats will stay away for good while still earning your house a spot in the Martha Stewart magazine.
  There’s always the chance that your cat has stopped climbing the tree but continues to sit underneath it to enjoy a nosh on the lower branches. I have a cat that doesn’t even care if it’s real or fake before he starts chewing. To avoid this behaviour, just put a small dab of Tabasco sauce on the lower branches. It’ll be a spicy surprise for your furry friend and chances are will keep them from coming back for seconds.
Other helpful ways to keep your tree from crashing down include use fishing wire to secure the tree to the wall. Hang the most expensive or nicest ornaments at the top where Kitty probably won’t be able to reach them. Try using plastic ornaments at the bottom, so if they do get knocked off there’s little chance of breakage. And most importantly, despite whatever urges you might have, don’t play with your cat while you’re decorating the tree. If you make it a game, then the tree will become their playground. And for the love of cats, avoid using tinsel. It’s bad for your cats to begin with if they ingest it, and it’s shiny sparkly constitution unavoidably attracts a cat’s curious nature. Besides, tinsel is just a hassle anyway, so do yourself a favour and leave it off this year.
In my own experience, cats tend to grow out of the tree climbing. They either lose the kitten spryness or their youthful curiosity. However, cats are also creatures of habit, so once in a tree chances are they may always try at least once every year to return to the bushy branches and hide away. Even though Kitty might look gosh darn cute while he’s in there, remember hanging out in a Christmas tree can be dangerous, so follow these tips and keep him purr-fectly safe!
By Allison Vorstenbosch