With six animals living in our house, every year, we ponder the realities of all that furry activity versus the Christmas tree. Maybe I’ve watched too many home videos on TV of pets toppling over trees, but I don’t trust my critters around a lovely pine covered with fragile ornaments. My cats’ klutzy leaps have already resulted in broken glassware, so it’s not exactly hard to imagine the sounds of yuletide destruction (i.e., a Tannenbaum Bomb).
Fortunately, because of the layout of our house and our vigilant furry critter supervision, we’ve managed to avoid massive tree devastation. Although an enterprising cat or dog can still take out a tree, here are a few ideas to keep the tree upright and all the ornaments in tact.
The first thing is to pick a good place for the tree. If you have a room that can be closed off at night or while you aren’t able to keep an eye on your pets, that’s ideal. Alternatively, you can put up some kind of fence or blockade around the bottom of the tree to keep wagging tails and cats out of range. Another way to keep the tree upright is to secure it to the wall or ceiling. Some people use strong fishing line attached to a hook in the ceiling. The line is invisible, and even if a pet tries to climb it, the tree should still stay upright.
Pine needles can cause gastrointestinal distress for your pets, so don’t let them chew up or eat the needles that will inevitably end up on the floor. Sweep up regularly and put a big sheet around the base of the tree, so when you take the tree out at the end of the season, you don’t get needles everywhere.
If you have a puppy, be very sure to keep him away from electrical cords. Puppies and even kittens often like to chew on wires, so be sure all wires are out of critter range. You also can spray bitter apple spray on the cords as a deterrent.
Place plastic, wood, or other reasonably unbreakable ornaments at the bottom of the tree (where ornaments are most likely to be wagged off). Broken glass isn’t fun for anyone. Also keep food ornaments like popcorn strings off the lower branches. It’s food, and your dog knows it.
Finally, know your pet. Some animals will eat absolutely any object they find on the floor, which results in an expensive vet trip to remove the object. If you have a pet like this, be extra careful about ornaments, ribbons, tinsel, presents, and holiday food. I know someone whose dog had emergency surgery to remove glass after the dog knocked a casserole on the floor and ate the dish along with the food.
Even though you may be really busy, the bottom line is: pay attention to your pets. With a little extra awareness and forethought on your part, you, the tree, and all your pets can make it through the holidays safely.