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Kittens and Christmas Trees


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Do any of you pet training gurus have tips for keeping a kitten/young cat out of a Christmas Tree? Our guy is 5 months old, so he's not a tiny kitten anymore, but he still acts like he's completely insane without a lot of sense and he climbs/jumps on everything. Dh is telling me I have lost my mind if I think we're going to be able to have the tree up without a disaster happening. I am guessing there has to be a way to condition this cat to stay off the tree? Tips? 

It's an artificial pre-lit tree. My biggest worry is if he were to chew on the lights. He went through a really bad chewing phase earlier, and I think he's growing out of it but am not 100%. I was thinking of setting the tree up tomorrow and just leaving it up a day or two without plugging in or decorating to let the new wear off. I do use non-breakable ornaments as we have three large, exuberant dogs, two with long tails, so breakable ornaments are just asking for despair, but I do use metal hooks, and I don't want him to get a hold of those either. (Plastic hooks don't work well I've found). 

He is not afraid of water, so spraying him with water doesn't work. He drinks out of the toilet and gets in the shower with the kids, so he actually likes water and isn't phased in the slightest. 

I have tried spraying canned air at him (to keep him off the counters while I'm cooking) and he simply squints and hunkers down. He's not afraid of anything much except our barking dogs. He won't even move for the vacuum cleaner unless you physically nudge him with it. Shaking plastic bags at him doesn't work either. I think the kids have desensitized him to pretty much everything. We do have two cat trees, but that doesn't seem to stop him from wanting to climb anything and everything. 

Ideas? My kids would be devastated not to have the tree up this year, but I don't want an injured cat either. 

Edited by Æthelthryth the Texan
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Dog crate the cat.  

No, seriously.  

Or close off the room with tree in it so cat can’t access it

Climbing trees is a normal cat thing.  Going after baubles is a kitten thing.

kitten + Xmas tree = trouble 

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Just now, Pen said:

Dog crate the cat.  

No, seriously.  

Or close off the room with tree in it so cat can’t access it

Climbing trees is a normal cat thing.  Going after baubles is a kitten thing.

kitten + Xmas tree = trouble 

I can't crate him for a month. Our tree is in the center of our house, and it's an open concept so there is no where I can keep the cat locked that long. It's just not practical at all. 

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Don't dog crate the cat.  Dog crate the tree.  Get something like one of these extra wide baby gates that you can set up around the tree, zip tie it together if you have to.  I am sure that there are some with super narrow openings between the bars to keep the kitty from getting in between.

I will say though, when we had cats, that climbed everything, they didn't climb the tree.  Now, ours was real, so perhaps the smell of it or maybe the sap or something kept them from climbing it.  

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1 minute ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

I can't crate him for a month. Our tree is in the center of our house, and it's an open concept so there is no where I can keep the cat locked that long. It's just not practical at all. 

 

Hmmm.  Unfortunate.  

I guess you could try it up without lights or ornaments and see.  Though I sort of think short of something that would hurt him badly it would be hard to dissuade interest and it could be a disaster.    Though maybe see it there’s any flavor he hates like bitter lemon spray or cayenne pepper.  If so put it liberally on tree.  

I think in situation you described, I’d probably skip having a tree this year, or only have it go up around December 23-26 during which time cat would be crated or supervised at all times.  

Maybe if he had more attractive than the tree is things like his own fabulous climbing spot and dangling catnip toys and kitten chews he’d leave it alone.   ??? 

 

Gifts and ribbons, bows, strings could also be a cat attraction.  Not probably as disaster causing as electric tree lights getting chewed though.  

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2 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

Don't dog crate the cat.  Dog crate the tree.  Get something like one of these extra wide baby gates that you can set up around the tree, zip tie it together if you have to.  I am sure that there are some with super narrow openings between the bars to keep the kitty from getting in between.

I will say though, when we had cats, that climbed everything, they didn't climb the tree.  Now, ours was real, so perhaps the smell of it or maybe the sap or something kept them from climbing it.  

 

If that would work that sounds like an excellent solution!! 

Our kittens/cats climb right over such gates.  

 

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Our cats love to climb the tree and we've never been able to stop them. So far, there haven't been any disasters. We anchor the tree to the wall with rope so it can't tip over. We don't have any ornaments that are breakable or irreplaceable, and we use plastic hangers, not metal. We don't have any tinsel or ribbon or anything that would be dangerous for them to ingest. Our cats have never tried to chew the lights, thankfully. Maybe you could only have the lights plugged in when someone is right there to keep an eye on him?

Babygates haven't worked for us. We put them up whenever we have a puppy at Christmas, and it keeps the puppy away but the cats climb or jump right over.

 

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He'd definitely jump right over those gates. I use those to keep the dogs out of a hallway where there's carpet and he just jumps them as easy as anything. This is the cat who jumps on top of my dining table fixture and walks the rails, so he's a daredevil. Our other cats like to lie under the Christmas tree and have never climbed it. I wonder if he'll just follow their example. One can hope LOL. 

I'll definitely figure out a way to tether it to the wall. That would help. 

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Our cat took down our tree one year. Smashed the breakable ornaments. I bought a tree with a much more solid base. It never went down, and the cat loved sitting on a limb. He did bend the limb, but the tree held. 

Someone did suggest securing the tree with fishing line and anchoring it into the wall or ceiling. I could never be bothered. 

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The last year we had a Christmas tree was the year Obama was five months old.  I was careful and didn't put up breakable ornaments.  He stole and hid the nonbreakable ones all over the house.  It was kind of cute.  But then he climbed the tree and got completely tangled in the lights so tightly that if we had not been home, he would almost certainly have died.  Wrapped tightly around his neck and body.  It took both my husband and myself to untangle him.  We both have scars.  He destroyed the tree.  Honestly, I'm still pretty traumatized by how bad it got really fast.  We have decorated the cat tree with paper and non-breakable ornaments to try to make the cat tree festive ever since.  

I've had numerous other cats, and none of them ever tried to climb the tree, so it's definitely not a given.  But I am pretty firmly on team "alternative Christmas trees" after our experience with Obama.

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I had a kitten once who liked to hang out on the limbs. He would climb the (artificial) tree, then shimmy out on a limb & just stay there awhile. We would have a cute kitten face peering out at us at eye-level.

Had another cat who would get a running start (from the next room), then leap when about halfway to the tree so that he crashed front & center into the middle of the tree. He would do it over & over & over. That tree had a good-sized divot in the front by the end of the season, lol. This same cat was smart enough to realize a shiny ornament at the bottom of the tree reflected light & would make a light spot on the floor. He would tap the ornament, chase the light spot like crazy until it stopped moving, then do it again. He would amuse himself for a very long time that way. After that, we always hung that ornament at the bottom of the tree for him. He's been gone for many years but I still hang his ornament at the bottom & smile & miss him at the same time.

Most of our other cats aren't into the tree or just want to stay under it, nice & cozy on top of any presents. (We don't do ribbons because we have a ribbon eater.)

I'd put a tree up. Maybe no lights at all or no lights plugged in unless you are around. Leave it undecorated? Maybe make paper ornaments? Or use plastic/unbreakable ones? Could you tuck ornaments in the branches, not using hooks at all?

Every cat is so individual. You'll just have to see how it goes.

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1 minute ago, dmmetler said:

We do stuffed animals, etc and no lights/Garland when we have kittens/young cats. Last year,both enjoyed climbing the tree and sitting in it. This year, I suspect they'll knock it over if they try to climb it. 

Yeah, if you have a tree that has the option of no lights/ garland, that's a totally legitimate option.  

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4 minutes ago, Stacia said:

I had a kitten once who liked to hang out on the limbs. He would climb the (artificial) tree, then shimmy out on a limb & just stay there awhile. We would have a cute kitten face peering out at us at eye-level.

Had another cat who would get a running start (from the next room), then leap when about halfway to the tree so that he crashed front & center into the middle of the tree. He would do it over & over & over. That tree had a good-sized divot in the front by the end of the season, lol. This same cat was smart enough to realize a shiny ornament at the bottom of the tree reflected light & would make a light spot on the floor. He would tap the ornament, chase the light spot like crazy until it stopped moving, then do it again. He would amuse himself for a very long time that way. After that, we always hung that ornament at the bottom of the tree for him. He's been gone for many years but I still hang his ornament at the bottom & smile & miss him at the same time.

Most of our other cats aren't into the tree or just want to stay under it, nice & cozy on top of any presents. (We don't do ribbons because we have a ribbon eater.)

I'd put a tree up. Maybe no lights at all or no lights plugged in unless you are around. Leave it undecorated? Maybe make paper ornaments? Or use plastic/unbreakable ones? Could you tuck ornaments in the branches, not using hooks at all?

Every cat is so individual. You'll just have to see how it goes.

The mental image of this made me LOL so hard. What a cool cat.Sounds a lot like my guy. And he would do that with the ornament. He can make a fun toy out of anything and has figured out how to open drawers and cabinets so he is constantly getting things out and dragging them through the house. I was blaming the kids for a while, though they kept denying it, but I finally caught him in the act. 

This is a prelit tree, so I need to get it out of the attic and see how the lighting is done as I can't remember how the lights are attached and if it'd be an issue of where he could get tangled. 

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27 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

The mental image of this made me LOL so hard. What a cool cat.Sounds a lot like my guy. And he would do that with the ornament. He can make a fun toy out of anything and has figured out how to open drawers and cabinets so he is constantly getting things out and dragging them through the house. I was blaming the kids for a while, though they kept denying it, but I finally caught him in the act.

My dd's first cat used to snag her socks & underwear & drag them all over. (And Barbie stuff.) He was also very into attending tea parties. Dd would set up stuff & then he would show up & take a seat. 🤣

My mischievous cat re: the tree was (mostly?) flame-point Siamese. So, so smart. So, so busy. I adored that cat.

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1 hour ago, Selkie said:

Our cats love to climb the tree and we've never been able to stop them. So far, there haven't been any disasters. We anchor the tree to the wall with rope so it can't tip over. We don't have any ornaments that are breakable or irreplaceable, and we use plastic hangers, not metal. We don't have any tinsel or ribbon or anything that would be dangerous for them to ingest. Our cats have never tried to chew the lights, thankfully. Maybe you could only have the lights plugged in when someone is right there to keep an eye on him?

Babygates haven't worked for us. We put them up whenever we have a puppy at Christmas, and it keeps the puppy away but the cats climb or jump right over.

 

My cat holds the family record for knocking down the tree...in less than 3 minutes of having it up!  We have a wooden base and I had my husband drill holes in it and I anchor it.

My cats do better if I do it in stages. Tree up for a few days with lights, add ornaments later. Leave off anything that's irreplaceable. 

I never had to leave lights off for cats, but I did have to remove them one year for a toddler who kept taking them off and putting them in the mouth. 

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11 minutes ago, Stacia said:

My dd's first cat used to snag her socks & underwear & drag them all over. (And Barbie stuff.) He was also very into attending tea parties. Dd would set up stuff & then he would show up & take a seat. 🤣

My mischievous cat re: the tree was (mostly?) flame-point Siamese. So, so smart. So, so busy. I adored that cat.

MIne used to hunt freshly killed socks and underwear from the downstairs laundry room and proudly deliver them to me. Once he dragged up a big beach towel!

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1 hour ago, Pippen said:

MIne used to hunt freshly killed socks and underwear from the downstairs laundry room and proudly deliver them to me. Once he dragged up a big beach towel!

Yes! He makes folding laundry very exciting. And he brings washcloths out of the kids bathroom. He also killed one of my dd's dreamcatchers and has totally annihilated the feather dusters. 

My dd saw this yesterday while we were at Cracker Barrel getting pies and I was very glad it was out of stock, because I didn't think about it at the time, but this would have just been asking for it as far as him taking out the tree, LOL. 

https://shop.crackerbarrel.com/christmas/elegant/animated-angels-christmas-tree-topper/692547

Edited by Æthelthryth the Texan
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Nothing breakable and anchor the tree to the wall to it can’t tip. The end. After that, I don’t care if my Cats get in the tree. Though the huge fatties that they are can’t get far up or stay in it long anyways. Oh! There you go - have you tried over-feeding your cat?  If you start now then this problem will be resolved by next year. 

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Maybe something like this could be used to position your cat calmly on floor near tree with high value food reward

Cat cozy bag

 Customer comment:
 
Size: Large - 10 lbs. and up.Color: Red
I was a bit skeptical, but I really wanted to give it a try. He's SO GOOD in the bag! I couldn't believe it! He still meowls when the car is in motion, but he's not drooling or getting sick. Just taking in the sights and getting a little dizzy, haha. This buddy is nearly 14 and handled it like a champ. So proud of my dude. He's 13 pounds and the large size is perfect. He has room if he were to get back to the 19 pounds he was when he adopted us 5 years ago 😅
 
 
ADding: eta— general concept is still like crate, but perhaps more comfortable and soothing for kitty and he could have positive reinforcement for lying calmly rather than trying aversives like squirt bottles, loud noises, or mouse traps as ornaments... 
Edited by Pen
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1 hour ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

Yes! He makes folding laundry very exciting. And he brings washcloths out of the kids bathroom. He also killed one of my dd's dreamcatchers and has totally annihilated the feather dusters. 

My dd saw this yesterday while we were at Cracker Barrel getting pies and I was very glad it was out of stock, because I didn't think about it at the time, but this would have just been asking for it as far as him taking out the tree, LOL. 

https://shop.crackerbarrel.com/christmas/elegant/animated-angels-christmas-tree-topper/692547

Definitely looks like kitten baiting to me!

 

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1 hour ago, mumto2 said:

If your ceilings aren’t super high you can put a hook in the ceiling and anchor it with fish line.  My parents did this for years because the cat climbed it every year.

This might be my best bet because we don't have high ceilings, and the tree is centered in front of a plate glass window that won't be easy to anchor to. I asked dh to get the tree down tonight and he suggested we maybe wait until after Thanksgiving dinner and everyone is gone before we set ourselves up for chaos, LOL. 

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1 hour ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

This might be my best bet because we don't have high ceilings, and the tree is centered in front of a plate glass window that won't be easy to anchor to. I asked dh to get the tree down tonight and he suggested we maybe wait until after Thanksgiving dinner and everyone is gone before we set ourselves up for chaos, LOL. 

That was where the tree was at my parents and the cat was huge.  He lived for years and always made at least on trip up the tree.

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2 hours ago, Pen said:

Maybe something like this could be used to position your cat calmly on floor near tree with high value food reward

Cat cozy bag

 Customer comment:
 
Size: Large - 10 lbs. and up.Color: Red
I was a bit skeptical, but I really wanted to give it a try. He's SO GOOD in the bag! I couldn't believe it! He still meowls when the car is in motion, but he's not drooling or getting sick. Just taking in the sights and getting a little dizzy, haha. This buddy is nearly 14 and handled it like a champ. So proud of my dude. He's 13 pounds and the large size is perfect. He has room if he were to get back to the 19 pounds he was when he adopted us 5 years ago 😅
 

I have to digress here. I clicked your link. Underneath it, in the section "Customers who bought this item also bought"... is a cat muzzle. 🤔

Notice the picture is on a stuffed animal, not a real cat!! Thinking if your real cat needs a muzzle, a mere human will not be getting it on the cat. 🤣 Maybe partway... but then you'd have a dead human & a pissed off cat.

I'm going to be giggling about this product for the rest of the evening.

Now back to your regular thread....

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We have a tree climber & light wire chewer. He's almost 3. And he is joined by two others this year. Also about 2-3 years old. Gonna be interesting...

Since we don't put the tree up until almost Christmas,  I'll just do whatever didn't work for you. ;)

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Last year we all decided we were kinda over big Christmas trees so we switched to a table top tree. Kitty liked to sleep nestled underneath it, and didn’t bother the lights or ornaments.

There's no way we will get that lucky again with the new kitten. She can’t leave anything alone, and since she chewed through a string of fairy lights in the kitchen, I know a tree would be a disaster. 

As a small consolation I put a tiny tree on top of a bookcase, thinking that would be safe space. Well....at least the kitten hasn’t made it up there yet! Lol

E5329B51-5CB9-4990-89D6-9FEB471A4710.jpeg

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Our cat climbed the tree a little the her first year, but what really entrances her is the plastic curly ribbon on presents.  She'll chew it and possibly eat some, which could be deadly, I'm sure.  It's banned under/on the tree.  Also, she'll unwrap presents with her claws, so we don't put them out in advance anymore.  We've had her for 14 years; she has us trained.  

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We've had three cats in our day, and always had a live Christmas tree in the living room.  Fortunately, we never had problems.  But, none of our kittens or cats were really into chewing things.  As kittens, they did climb the tree, but they'd just sit there and peer out.  They were generally not interested in climbing it once they were adults, but they still loved hiding under it.  We always tethered our tree to the wall too.  There's no way it could fall over.  Also, we always put a soft blanket underneath it, one that they liked to sleep on.  They'd live under the tree during Christmas.  They'd sleep on the blanket, drink from the tree's water.

If it were me, I'd probably still get the tree, tether it to the wall, put a soft blanket on the ground, and see what happens.  Adjust accordingly.  If he plays with the ornaments, maybe it'll be a year of soft-ornaments only, and no hooks.  If he chews on the lights, I'd make sure I always know of his whereabouts when I'm home, and then close him in another room if we go out.  

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Our first kitten climbed the tree one year and our toddler ended up in the ER with stitches (we had a few glass ornaments at the very top and kitty knocked one down and toddler SAT ON IT (of course this happened when I left the room for a quick bathroom break-- dd was standing /smiling at the baby gate when I returned with LOTS of blood flowing down her leg...)   from that year on no glass ornaments. Period.

Our next kitten spent 18 Christmases happily sleeping under the tree-- his favorite place in the world... he would cry pitifully every time we would take the tree down.

This year we have TWO kittens-- both are climbers-- I don't know if a tree will happen... we use 'live' trees-- so plan is to put tree up and wait a few days to see how they act before we decorate= then decorate it slowly in case we have to move it....

Another option would be to get a smaller tree and keep it in our home theater room... only room kitties are not allowed in... but we would not be able to enjoy it very much...I guess we could bring it out to the main area Christmas morning and put the kittens outside...

 

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Well, it's made it about 14 hours now!! We kept him in the sunroom overnight (which we do anyway since he tends to go into my youngest's room at 2am and lick her in the face- he's weird) so no tree drama. I feel like so far today he's forgotten about it. He's more interested in the leaves blowing around outside the window. I haven't put the tree skirt on it yet- that's usually the animal attractant, as they know what a PITA it is to clean pet hair off a velvet tree skirt, so automatically two cats and our longest haired dog all go lay on it every year. 🙄 Step 2 will be doing that and seeing what he does when the other cats and the one dog are under it all the time. 

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So far the tree storage bags are where it's at. Guess I'm going to need to leave one of them out. 

First you spend an hour jumping in and out of the bag, making it make a ruckus and sliding across the floor. Then when that gets old, you lie in wait and ambush the dogs every time they walk by. 

4FE9DB82-97B1-4BDA-A7E8-2A9D14F1D561.thumb.jpeg.fe43055b7e7c117d245626394f3266c8.jpeg

D19D415D-40E9-45E0-97E7-4EB02B7C87A1_1_201_a.thumb.jpeg.a182534e520ec22aa7c58a09245d641f.jpeg

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On 11/28/2019 at 9:20 AM, MEmama said:

Last year we all decided we were kinda over big Christmas trees so we switched to a table top tree. Kitty liked to sleep nestled underneath it, and didn’t bother the lights or ornaments.

There's no way we will get that lucky again with the new kitten. She can’t leave anything alone, and since she chewed through a string of fairy lights in the kitchen, I know a tree would be a disaster. 

As a small consolation I put a tiny tree on top of a bookcase, thinking that would be safe space. Well....at least the kitten hasn’t made it up there yet! Lol

E5329B51-5CB9-4990-89D6-9FEB471A4710.jpeg

 

I'm an absolute cat hater (also very allergic which is part of why) and reading these posts amusedly while sick in bed.  There would be no contest between cat and tree.  The cat would be gone...

Anyway, your cat has gorgeous coloring and eyes!  So striking! (even though it is a cat)

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13 hours ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

Well, it's made it about 14 hours now!! We kept him in the sunroom overnight (which we do anyway since he tends to go into my youngest's room at 2am and lick her in the face- he's weird) so no tree drama. I feel like so far today he's forgotten about it. He's more interested in the leaves blowing around outside the window. I haven't put the tree skirt on it yet- that's usually the animal attractant, as they know what a PITA it is to clean pet hair off a velvet tree skirt, so automatically two cats and our longest haired dog all go lay on it every year. 🙄 Step 2 will be doing that and seeing what he does when the other cats and the one dog are under it all the time. 

Maybe if you got a tree stand /tree collar, it couldn't climb it?  Like This.  I have one and like it better than messy skirt on ground.  We don't put presents out until Christmas Eve, so it is just a nice clean look.

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