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Cats climbing real Christmas trees?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone! Kind of a newbie here.. but have a quick question. Growing up, we never had a real Christmas tree because there was an incident with my parents' cat climbing the entire tree and toppling it before I was born. So that's sort of been ingrained in me that cats will climb them!

Fast forward, now I'm married and we have two wonderful rescued kitties, but always have the fake tree because I don't want them climbing it and getting hurt. BUT!... neither of them jump on counters. They do, however, jump on beds and couches, but basically anything that isn't soft and cozy they don't show any interest at all in jumping on.

Do you think they'd climb a Christmas tree (a real one)? And also, IS IT SAFE?! Are there any certain types that are NOT cat-friendly?

Thanks for your input!!
post #2 of 28
I've always had a fake tree because of allergies, not to mention the mess and the hazards of catching fire as the tree dries out and drops needles, so I don't know about them climbing.

I do know that when you have cats you shouldn't put tinsel on your trees because they will eat it and it can get tangled up in their intestines and cause a blockage.

My oldest cat loved to play with the ornaments on the bottom branches, and since I have very expensive ornaments I don't like that! So I don't bother putting up a tree at all anymore, LOL My youngest cat wouldn't have a clue what a christmas tree was if she saw one and would probably totally freak out.
post #3 of 28
I always have a fake christmas tree and every year the cats will climb it, chew it, play with the baubles and usually bring it down a few times I see no reason why they would be any different with a real one! I dont' have a real one for a variety of reasons so I'm not sure whether there are any specific dangers eg if they chew it. If you do go for a real one do be careful with the needles that fall off as they can get stuck in paw pads so hoover them up regularly. Whatever type of tree you go for it's important to be careful of potential dangers such as tinsel, lights, glass baubles etc. esp if you have young or playful cats. I always err on the side of caution and avoid tinsel, lights and glass baubles. Last year was the first I risked some lights (but always switched off at the mains when I wasnt around) but won't have them this year as I have a kitten around.
post #4 of 28
My experience says cats don't care if the tree is real or fake. The only difference is you can throw out the real tree every year, but the fake tree tends to get bent branches so either you throw them out (and waste however much money you paid for it), pay a fee to get them fixed (don't know if that exists), or just leave the tree be, ugly gaps here and there, lol

We used to have real trees and I always delighted in watching the cats climb up it. 2 cats climbed it (and then brought it down), 2 others didn't care less (though Willow loved to sleep on the blanket underneath it). The year we got Buffy, we bought a fake tree and Buffy immediately tested it out. When Willow saw her in the tree, SHE tested it out. 3 years later (last Christmas), Willow got over the thrill of Christmas tree climbing but Buffy still loves it. The month before Christmas, we found Molly, and she loves climbing the tree too. As a result, because of 17 pounds of cat in the tree (Buffy is 7 pounds, Molly is 10), the tree looks absolutely pathetic... lol
post #5 of 28
we have a real tree and to stop the cats climbing it, get some catnip put it in a tin and then wrap it up and place under the tree. its a great distraction and very funny to watch the cats finally get the wrapping open....
post #6 of 28
Last year I'd finally got tired of having all my beautiful ornaments boxed up to keep them safe and/or crowded out by childproof plastic and paper. My kids have already pointed out that it probably won't be such a keen idea now that we have the wild boy Pippin around.

post #7 of 28
Back when we had multiple cats we just did not bother putting up either fake or real trees, it was just too likely to be entirely toppled over the next morning. This of course was convenient, nobody to blame it on. We learned quickly to never use the sliver string stuff as you would find that throughout the house for months after. Now that we are down to one kitten, I think we will try a real tree again this year but for sure none of that silver string stuff and keep the ornaments at a higher level. However, cats are cats, and Christmas trees are not a normal part of a cat's life so us humans cannot expect our cats to treat these with the respect we do and should not be punished or reprimanded for doing what comes naturally to a cat, climbing a tree!
post #8 of 28
If you get a real tree, you can secure it to a ceiling fixture, eye, hook, etc., with fishing line. I've even heard of cat owners hanging the tree upside down from the ceiling.
In addition to avoiding tinsel, glass ornaments, etc., don't let your cats drink the water used to keep the tree fresh - cover that up, as it can be toxic!
post #9 of 28
Oh I'm soo bummed,, I didn't think about not using tinsel on the tree.... We have 3 cats this year, and we never had cats before during Christmas.

My husband is a tinsel freak.. He buys like 6 boxes and adornes the tree in silver.. It's a tradition that he been doing since he was a little child.. and with his mother no longer alive,, its like his way to enjoy Christmas with his mother because they would pile boxes and boxes on the tree....

What happens if we still put tinsel on the tree.. If I tell him that we can't have tinsel.. He'll probably Lock the cats out of the living room all together where the tree is... I know him... He won't give up tinsel.. Oh I see the battle a brewing...
post #10 of 28
We found that bringing in the live tree and leaving it undecorated for about 2 weeks, they lose interest in it. When decorating, be sure to put unbreakable stuff at the bottom of the tree.

We cured Ling of climbing the tree by way of a squirt bottle! Whenever she got near the tree, we never said a word to her - BUT all of a sudden that darn tree got her wet

You should have seen her the first few times high tail it up the stairs and sit there and complain.

She got squirted about 5 times and the rest of the time the tree was up and decorated, she didn't go near it

Tinsel is VERY dangerous to a cat. If you have a place to put the tree that the cats can be locked out of the room - put the tree in there and put the tinsel on it; otherwise NO tinsel on the tree.
post #11 of 28
I use a fake pre-lit tree (cause I love not spending half a day fighting with lights ) I hang delicate stuff near the top, I use ribbons to hang all the ornaments rather than hooks, I just leave a big loop and slide it onto the branches, stuff near the bottom I might tie on, I leave a few sturdy ornaments on the bottom branches for kitty play time. Midir thought about climbing it, once. He found all those skinny metal rods were not so easy to sink his claws into. Before I got Midir, we always had real trees, and Etain never did anymore than sleep under them and maybe knock a few ornaments off the bottom. I don't think I would get a real tree with Midir, he's a bit wild, and I can just see sappy water, pine needles and broken heirloom ornaments all over the floor, plus he's fascinated with water, and not too picky, I'm afraid he'd try to drink it.

They absolutely love sleeping under the tree, especially when the lights are on, so yeah, I leave it plugged in 24/7 for them
post #12 of 28
We've always had a real tree and of course one year when I lived in an apartment the cats knocked it down. I don't think it would have mattered if it had been artificial, they were determined to get that tree down. Now my living room has doors and that is the one room they are not allowed in. It's the only room i can display some of my really nice antiques without worry. This is also where my Christmas tree goes so the tree and my ornaments are safe from my obnoxious kitties plus I now get to use tinsel.
post #13 of 28
Real trees have more hazards than fake trees.
The needles can be harmful if ingested, and the water is poisonous-- I always use the netting that they put over the tree for transport to block the water reservoir so they can't drink it.
If your cats seem inclined to eat pine needles I'd avoid a real tree. Luckily I've never had a problem with that with my cats-- the problem I had was my last cat looking up into the tree as if judging if she should climb it! I found an easy way to keep her away from it though- oranges! She HATED citrus scents so all i had to do was slash a few oranges and put them under the tree, and she stayed away from it. After I started doing that I never had a problem. Now my current cat does not dislike the smell of citrus so that won't work on her, but luckily she is too lazy to climb anything.
post #14 of 28
If a cat wants to climb a tree, they will climb it, fake or real..Trout climbs ANY tree I have..
post #15 of 28
I've never had a cat who WANTED to climb my christmas tree. just the luck of the draw i guess.

but i think with two kittens, this year may be the climbing year. i have an artificial tree and it goes up WAY too early and comes down WAY too late. Hopefully Stoli and his new brother will get all their climbing desires out early. No expensive/glass ornaments this year. and the tree WILL be anchored to the wall.
post #16 of 28
The problem with tinsel is the same of any piece of string: it can become tangled in the cats' intestines.

Last Christmas I tried citrus and it didn't work. Well, with Buffy it did, but I swear Molly doesn't have a good sense of smell (show her an orange and she'll walk right up and take a deeeeeeeep breath while the other cats scram in the other direction). We used lemon juice, though, is that a bad one to use (not enough citrus smell?).
post #17 of 28
This will be my first year getting a real tree. We're planning on putting it in the basement and only allowing the cats down there while they're supervised.
post #18 of 28
Tigger likes to hide under the tree and "pounce" on me when I walk by...
post #19 of 28
I haven't had a big tree since I moved away from my folks, but they always had a real tree when I was growing up. I think they have a fake one now, but it's just a matter of my mother's compulsive vacuuming needs, rather than a cat issue.

Their tree is (since the mishap the first year we had a cat) hooked in three places... ceiling and both walls by some sort of whiteish or clear string and little eyes from those hook-and-eye sets. Make sure those eyes go into the studs, though. The metal bits don't show noticeably the rest of the year, and there's only the one place in their house that it makes sense to put the tree, so they've been in there for years. And our cats have always gone mad over the water, so cover it well enough with the skirt that they can't get in.

My childhood cat was small enough to be able to climb any species of tree. My kid brother's cat is much too big, and a bit chubby to get into the type that my mother prefers, so it hasn't been an issue for several years. We still keep the plush and non-breakable ornaments toward the lower few tiers of branches, though. Never know what might excite a cat.

My mini trees are always being vandalized by naughty little kittens who aren't allowed to jump onto the surfaces the trees are set up on anyways. I come home to find ornaments around on the floor, and an occasional knocked down tree. I just don't use breakable ornaments, or expensive ones, or old ones, or ones I'd mind losing under the stove. I figure that one day I'll have a house with a room I can block off for Christmas, or at least block it off when the mischevious little ones are home alone.
post #20 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input!! About the water.... do they sell anything to keep curious critters out, or do you just have to rig something yourself? I think I'm going to stick with my fake tree because I'm afraid they'd get the needles. They were both strays before we adopted them, so I guess I can reason that they made it however many years on their own and didn't eat anything poisonous, but I would still be afraid. I'd probably drive myself crazy with worry!

The citrus.... do a lot of cats not like that smell? I've never heard that before, just curious as to whether or not that's a "cat thing".

I love the idea of wrapping catnip! So cute! For Easter, we put kitty treats in plastic eggs -- that drives them crazy trying to get that darn thing open!
post #21 of 28
Hi, I am new to the forum, but have had kitties for quite awhile. My oldest cat Precious, has never been interested in climbing our christmas tree, but does like to lay under it. My parents cat, Smokey, always looked like he wanted to get to the tree. We were not sure if he would climb it or not, but did not want to take the chance as we always had many delicate glass ornaments on the tree. So, one day I suggested using lavender linen water spray on the tree. We tried it, and sure enough, it worked . Every evening we would spray the tree and when he would get near it, he would sniff the tree and run away! I had thought to use the lavender, because I love real lavender, to help me sleep at night or relax in the evenings. I have a couple of lavender filled dream pillows and both of my cats would jump up on my lap or in bed with me, and when they would get close to the dream pillows and smell it, they would get a disgusted look on their face and would end up walking away! I have also brought in fresh lavender from the garden and let them sniff it, which usually they shake their head, then walk away. So you could try that and see if it works and it gives a nice scent to the house at the same time!
I just moved into my own home on my own this year and just adopted another kitty! (she's 5 1/2 months old as of today) So I am hoping this will also work with her, this upcoming holiday as she is quite a handfull! But I love her bunches!!!
post #22 of 28
I always a medium/large fake tree up until last year and the cats alway tried to climb it and play with the ornaments. By the time christmas day came the tree look

Last year we just had a tiny 2 foot tree and of course it looked so sad on Christmas day.

I am not sure what I am going to this year. Our livingroom is not big enough for a tree. We are thinking of getting a real one and putting it on the front sun porch but then we can't see it all the time so I don't know if I am going to enjoy that. I know for a fast that 80% of my cats will climb the tree and detroy any decorations if they get near it...hmmm I don't know what to do yet

As someone else metioned, you could anchor it to the ceiling. We did that once many years ago and although the cat still knocked off the ornaments at least the tree didn't bite the dust.
post #23 of 28
When I first got Melody I thought I would never be able to have a Christamas tree again, but seeing as Christmas is my favorite holiday and I love having the tree up, (I would leave it up all year round if I could), I finally decided to place it in a corner and tie 3 ropes around the trunk of my fake tree and screw it to the wall. I now have 6 kitties and this will be the first year with them all, so I will have to see what happens. The biggest problems I have had in the last year, when we had 4 was Melody would pluck out the light bulbs from the strings (VERY DANGEROUS!) and Uno would take the ornaments off the lower branches. Here were my solutions: I found strings of lights with little side clamps so they are not able to pull out easily then I also sprayed the strings with a bitter apple spray so they tasted bad, I had to repeat that about once a week. As for the ornaments I found big plastic hooks that are not able to be swallowed and then the beauty of having a fake tree is that they bend! So i then wrapped the end of each branch that held an ornament back over the hook so there was no way that the ornament could come off! Gracie who is the fattest of them all would like to lounge on the lower branches and hide, but I guess I don't mind that soo much, because it made for some adoable pictures!, and being screwed to the wall there was no way even with her lard butt that that baby was coming down! If you take some precautions then you should be fine, you may have more trouble with them unwrapping presents too soon then climbing the tree!
post #24 of 28
I had a fake tree up last year and Villy didn't climb it. But it was a cheap value one that was a bit spindly so maybe it didn't look too appealing to climb! I don't know if this could have anything to do with her age - she's 9 I adopted her when she was 8. I wonder, maybe she climbed the tree when she was a kitten!
I think we're getting a real one this year so we'll see. Thanks for the tip about the water - Villy loves to drink out of the bottom of plant pots - I'll make sure to keep this one out of her way.
post #25 of 28
Thread Starter 
ALSO! Has anyone ever heard of the Christmas light wiring being coated with lead? I remember reading something about that a while back. I'm worried
post #26 of 28
Sorry I dont know anything about lead being in the string lights.

The first year I had my babies, they were about 10 months old, when Christmas came. They demolished my fake Christmas tree. They broke my ornaments, tired to eat the lights, knocked the tree over about 50 times It became such a chore to make sure they were safe, that I winded up removing the tree before Christmas even came.

I LOVE Christmas and I havent put up a tree since that first year. I just compensate with other decorations all over the house and just make sure that they are decorations that when I walk into the room and see it laying on the floor severely beaten up, that its not something that will hurt the cats.
post #27 of 28
what is it about the water that is toxic? Does the tree have something in it that makes the water toxic - or is it the stuff that the christmas tree sellers give you to put in the water (such as plant food)? Growing up, our cat always tried to drink the water under the tree way too many times. We would stop her - but many times we would catch her lapping away at the water. It never seemed to harm her though and she lived for 20 years.. - so that's why I'm curious as to what is toxic about it for future reference this Christmas with Keeba!
post #28 of 28
Both, actually...
Many of the preservative liquids or powders that are used in the tree water are toxic. The trees also leak sap into the water which is poisonous (as well as pesticides and fertilizers which the tree was treated with), and there may also be harmful bacteria growing in the container.
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