“Oh Tannenbaum!” I yelled as the new kitty took down our Christmas tree in one ill-planned pounce (maybe I was a little less contained, but we’ll keep it PG in the spirit of the season).  Broken ornaments and spilled tree water added way more hustle to my bustle, but I knew that I was partially to blame for the kitty’s unbridled curiosity (I should have done more to “kitty-proof” Christmas).  This week Wisconsin Pet Care offers some helpful hints on introducing a temporary evergreen to your pet’s environment (aka: keeping your tree in tact until at least December 26th!).

Do anchor your tree to the wall.  This was a piece of advice that my dad gave me and I let it go in one ear and out the other.  “Dad, I don’t want to put an anchor in the middle of my living room wall!”   If only I would have listened, I could have saved myself a two hour clean-up.  It’s as simple as adding a hook into your wall, attaching a piece of string (try using a strong piece of fishing line – it offers invisibility and strength) to your tree trunk and fastening it onto the hook.  This two-minute job offers the security of knowing your pets will be safe and your tree will still be standing when you get home.

Don’t throw your cat into the tree. This is an “old wives tale” that is cruel to your cat buddy.  The theory is that if a cat is thrown into the tree, she’ll be scared and avoid it completely.  It won’t make your kitties less curious of the tree, but it will make them fearful of you.  There’s no reason to throw a cat anywhere or into anything.

Do cover the tree water with foil.  Even if you don’t use one of the tree-preserving chemical products (which are HIGHLY toxic to animals AND humans), the stagnant standing water is home to lots of bacteria – none of which are good for your pets.  Dogs are especially drawn to water bowls so it is important to keep it out of sight (so it stays out of his mind!).

Don’t use tinsel.  Yes it glistens under the glow of your lights, but the best case scenario is that your pet will eat the tinsel and vomit it up – worst case scenario is that they will eat the tinsel and need surgery to remove the obstruction from their GI tract.  Neither option makes the season merry or bright.

Do use safe electrical practices.  Fourteen plugs cannot fit into one outlet, no matter how you’ve rigged it up – it’s unsafe.  Use a power strip to keep your cords organized and to keep all of your four-legged friends safe from electrical shock.  As an added bonus, many power strips come with a remote so turning on the Christmas lights is a piece of fruit cake!

Don’t be afraid to put up a Christmas tree.  If you take the precautions necessary to keep your pet safe this holiday season, there’s no reason to be afraid to put up the Christmas tree.  Embrace your pet’s naturally curious behavior around “foreign” objects that have been added to their surroundings and give them time to acclimate.  Let them sniff or paw or rub against the tree, and in no time it will blend into the background.