No. Do not think that majestic cat sitting in front of the Christmas tree is cute.  He's actually a Christmas nightmare! 

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media
Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

Meet my brat, Dakota. We love him a lot but he makes it really, really hard at Christmas time and I blame myself for being a bad cat parent.  Kota was about four months old his first Christmas and was teeny tiny, so when he would crawl up the Christmas tree and sit on the branches I thought it was pretty cute.  He wasn't really hurting anything, so I didn't shoo him out.

Flash forward to the next year and he's a pretty grown cat at this point.  When his old friend the Christmas Tree came back for the season, he didn't hesitate to jump right in it like old times. And what happened to the tree? It went crashing down to the ground. At that point, I moved his litter box into my bathroom and he got to spend the next month taking over my bathroom/bedroom while I slept on the couch.

Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media
Michelle Heart, Townsquare Media

For his next stunt, our first year in our new apartment he killed the Christmas tree while I was in the shower.  You see, Dakota has an affinity for chewing on power cords (his favorite is my $80 MacBook power supply) and took it upon himself to chew through the bottom lights on my pre-lit tree during the five minutes I was bathing.  Devastated that he'd just killed my first big girl Christmas tree, I did some online shopping and had a new tree ready to be picked up at K-Mart after work.  The tree was even prettier than my first one. Kota didn't like he did the very same to the new tree the next day.

Now that I live with my fiance, we give Kota an all expenses paid trip to the grand suite at Hotel Laundry Room for the holidays.  The room's pretty big so it's not like he's being tortured when the tree is up.  It worked great until we had maintenance come over to work on our furnace.  They knew Kota was in the room where the furnace was at and were fully prepared to keep him in there. The cat other plans and bolted as soon as they opened the door. He got into one of his sneaky hiding places and hid from them so they weren't able to put him back. Imagine how surprised I was to see him sitting on the couch with a smug look on his face when I opened the door. To my surprise, the tree was still upright and lit.

Nate wants to let him back out during the day now, but I just don't trust that cat until we find a full proof way to per-proof the tree! I asked our listeners how they do it and they had some great ideas!

  • Embrace Their Fear of the Vacuum

    Misty may have been the hero I needed when she called the show this morning and made this suggestion.  Dakota despises the vacuum so it might just work! She suggested running the vacuum around the bottom of the tree every other day and when it's not running, leave the vacuum close to the tree.  The cat will avoid the tree because he now associates it with his fear of the vacuum.  I can't wait to see if this works!

  • Give Him Part of the Tree as a Toy

    This one comes from superstar listener, Leah Shaw.  She's a good cat mom who taught her cats as kittens that the tree and presents weren't theirs to play with. She would give them a part of the tree to play with so they weren't fixated on the tree.  A discarded branch is great for them to play with, chew on or lay with.  If the cat starts fixating on the tree, you just distract him with the new "toy" he got.

  • Child Proof Gate

    When I sent out my cat SOS, a Carolyn and Kiera were quick to show how they keep their pets out of the trees and gifts.  You can use the gates you use to keep your children from falling down the stairs or getting into a room they shouldn't be in as a fence around the base of your tree.  A cheaper way to build the fence? Chicken wire.

  • Put it Where the Pet Can't Reach It

    This is a great fix for dogs. Cats like to jump onto things that they shouldn't so it might not be a great option for cat parents.  Jessica Wetzel-Shay posted that she puts hers on a table top where the dog can't reach so that he can't pee on it!

  • Use a Scent Deterrent

    Cats are known not to hate the smell of citronella, so spray a few decorative pine cones with it to decorate your tree. Shawna told us that she bought a can of tree scented Glade that she loved, but the cats hated.

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