5 cat-friendly decorating tips for the holidays

There’s nothing like a festive home for the holidays. Twinkling lights, festive trinkets, and the smell of pine wafting through the house makes home a little more cozy during the darkest months of winter. That is, until your cat goes into attack mode. Chewing cords to shreds, pushing a candle off the table, or just knocking the whole Christmas tree over are pretty common holiday traditions for cats. Fortunately, it’s possible to cat-proof your holiday décor! Here are a few ways you can make your home safer (and saner) over the holidays if you share it with a cat:

1. Beware of poisonous plants

Holly, poinsettias, mistletoe, pine—during the holidays, a lot of people bring new and festive plants into their home. But many of these plants are actually poisonous to cats, including mistletoe and holly. It’s always a good idea to check whether or not plants are safe for your cat before you bring them into your home, so always make sure you do it, even during the bustle of the Christmas season. When in doubt, keep plants out of reach, or buy decorations like wreaths and boughs you can hang on the walls instead of setting on the table.

The same goes for your Christmas tree! The oils in live Christmas trees can irritate your cat’s stomach lining (or worse, puncture it), so if you know your cat likes to eat everything they find on the ground, it’s best to go with a fake tree that won’t shed needles.


2. Hide the cords

If you have a cat that loves to chew on cords, putting up Christmas lights can feel like a disaster waiting to happen. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to prevent your cat from chewing wires! Try bitter apple spray or plastic tubing to deter your cat from chewing on wires within their reach.

There are also a lot of options out there if you haven’t bought your Christmas tree yet, like fake trees with built-in lights or raised stands that keep them off the ground. Another approach is to make sure your cat’s environment is stimulating enough—a lot of cats chew out of boredom, so giving them something else to do might help lessen their wire-chewing tendencies.


3. Choose cat-friendly ornaments

Generally, there are three types of Christmas ornaments you should avoid if you have cats: glass ornaments, food-based ornaments, and tinsel. Glass ornaments can break easily when cats swat at them, and then your cat will run the risk of cutting their paws on the shards (or worse, ingesting the glass when they groom their paws afterwards). Tinsel may seem innocuous, but it’s actually dangerous to pets since it can easily get stuck in their intestinal tract.

Food-based ornaments may seem harmless, but some of them can make your cat extra-curious about your tree, depending on what food they find enticing. Ornaments made of wood, felt, or plastic are generally safer—and as a bonus, they’re more durable from year to year.


4. Rethink candles

You might love that one candle that smells like fresh-baked cookies, but chances are your cat has some choice words about it. Their sensitive sense of smell means that even a subtle scent can be overpowering to a cat, so it’s best to keep the scents to a minimum. Candles are also extra hazardous around cats who are tempted to paw them off the shelves.

If you’re going to burn candles over the holidays, pick beeswax candles. They have a subtle, naturally sweet scent that isn’t as likely to irritate your cat’s nose. Additionally, try housing your candles in a heavy, festive lantern that your cat can’t tip over—there are lots of options, and they’re a fun addition to your Christmas decor! When in doubt, just go with faux electric candles. You can turn them on and enjoy the festivities without having to worry about whether or not your cat has discovered them.

5. Give your cat a festive distraction

Don’t forget to make your cat’s environment festive too! Cats learn best with positive reinforcement, so the best way to stop them from playing with your Christmas decorations is to get them to play with something else. How about a few new Christmas-themed cat toys?

There are a lot of festive cat beds, toys, and scratching posts out there that will match your Christmas décor and satisfy your cat’s need to play at the same time. Having special seasonal toys that you only take out during the holidays is a good reminder to rotate their toys every so often, so they don’t get bored of the ones you have out.

Safe decorating means happy holidays for everyone

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keeping your décor safe for your cat is one of the best ways you can both have a happy holiday!

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