Sisters: Attie, left, and Issie, right. ROB LEONARD

Cats like Christmas, especially the tree

At the beginning of every holiday season, cat parents prepare their tree-climbing prevention strategies. And the felines prepare by scratching furniture, napping in bathroom sinks, eating bugs while turning up noses at pricey canned food, and snickering at their parents’ strategies.

Sora Wondra for petcarx.com wrote, “A Christmas tree can look like the ultimate toy to a cat: something to climb on that’s covered in shiny things to play with, break, and eat – not to mention a water bowl, toilet, and a scratching post in one!”

Good luck scanning the internet for information on how to have a holiday tree and a cat dwell peacefully in the same room. I found more dangers and problems than solutions. A brief look turned up articles on cats chewing tree needles, drinking from the water dish of a fresh tree, climbing and toppling a tree, playing with, eating and/or breaking ornaments, chewing tree lights and the total destruction of the tree.

Bottom line: It depends on the cat. Some show no interest in the Yule tree, others a slight interest. A few infrequent sniffs, batting at a few ornaments, maybe even taking a nap or two under the safety of the branches.

Then you’ve got our 9-month-old curious kitten. My husband, Ed, and I think Pip is going to LOVE the Christmas tree, and not in a good way. The little guy loves anything that shines or sparkles. Toys that roll are a favorite and climbing to the top of Mount Everest is on his bucket list.

My friend Rob Leonard adopted two tabbies – sisters – from Francis Kennels Rescue two years ago. I’ve enjoyed watching the antics of Issie and Attie (short for “this one” and “that one”) on their Facebook page. Rob refers to himself as the “can opener.”

I asked him if he has a problem with the cats climbing the tree and how he handles it.

He told me only Attie climbs the tree. Issie, the sweet, friendly one, watches and makes sure the “can opener” knows it’s not her.

Attie is the mischievous one. Rob once left his sock drawer cracked open, and when he returned home from work he found she had pulled out every one of his socks.

She knew exactly what to do when Rob put up the Christmas tree two years ago. Attie climbed the tree, peeking her head out between the branches as if to say, “Hi! What’s going on?”

Attie loved to play with the ornaments. She always seemed quite proud of her tree-climbing accomplishments.

This year, Rob has three small trees. The branches are bunched together making them difficult to climb. So far, Attie hasn’t.

Armed with all this information, we decided to put our tree up early with no decorations.

We have a small water bottle with a light-mist setting that we’ve used to stop Pip from climbing up on the kitchen table and the stove.

We’ve only had to spray him once and he’s pretty much left the table alone, same with the stove. For some reason, he’ll sit in a sink with the water running but if you spray him with mist he runs for the next room.

Our hope is if Pip attempts to climb the tree and we spray him with the water bottle he’ll stop and that will be the end of the tree climbing.

Yeah, I know. Probably wishful thinking.

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