Oh, Christmas Tree or Seasonally Appropriate Alternative...
November 28, 2011 8:17 AM   Subscribe

I want to show off my Christmas ornaments. I have a curious cat. Please help me brainstorm solutions! (details & constraints inside)

I have a good sized collection of Christmas ornaments. They are mostly sparkly, bright, and cheerful and some are collected from my travels so displaying them is important to me. I also have a cat. PointyCat loves Christmas trees, both real & artificial. He will climb either type to attempt to nestle in the branches. He likes to bat at ornaments. This is not optimal. Keeping ornaments higher on the tree doesn't totally solve the problem.

However, I am not married to the idea of a tree. Obviously, I would like an ornament display solution to be not incredibly difficult or expensive ( <$100US is ideal for a temporary solution, a bit more if the solution can be multi-seasonal). Garlands, shelves, alternate hanging things that aren't fir tree analogues, ways to keep cat away (he doesn't seem to dislike bitter apple or be deterred aluminum foil), etc - I am eager for suggestions!

Possibly relevant details about my place:
- Tree will have to be in living room area; keeping cat out of there not feasible with my apartment layout.
- Most of my furniture can be moved but for something that stands on the floor, narrower is better than very wide. My Xmas trees are normally on the slimmer side of normal
-My ceilings are 11 ft so tall is great
- I have a blank wall, maybe 8 ft long, that may be useful. Other walls have windows or doors
- Walls are old fashioned plaster. I am allowed to hang things on walls
-With advice, I could explore hanging from ceiling maybe though am inexperienced there
-IKEA, big US box stores, Container Store, hardware stores all nearby.
-Scent of tree not important to me nor is being traditional/religious.
posted by pointystick to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: How about a large branch hung parallel to the floor like this.
posted by kimdog at 8:22 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have deterred my cat from the tree by spraying a spray bottle of water at him when he touches it. it took maybe 2 or 3 squirts and he's no longer interested in the tree.

We hang our ornaments high still though, just to be safe.
posted by katypickle at 8:27 AM on November 28, 2011

I have had many Christmases with cats. The best solution, short of eliminating the tree altogether, is to hang the nice ornaments high enough that the cat can't swat at them. If you ONLY have nice ornaments, buy some inexpensive ones that you won't be heartbroken to see broken and hand them near the bottom of the tree to fill in the gap. This zone of inexpensive ornaments is the cat zone.

Inevitably, the cat(s) will manage to destroy at least one ornament per year. Hopefully, your cat zone has been effective and they've only destroyed inexpensive ones. Unfortunately, this is just the reality of cat ownership at Christmas time.

Now, as far as preventing the cat from climbing the tree, this is a tougher one. My old cat liked to climb the tree but generally only did so when no one was home. If there is a way that you can keep the cat out of the room when you're not home (but still allow them the run of the whole apartment when you are home, since you've noted that keeping them out of there is not realistic), that would be best. If that's not an option, and the cat is likely to go into the tree even if you are home 24/7, then you may have to ditch the tree.

Alternatively, you could do the hipster thing and have an upside down tree (or a small, tabletop tree, which will allow you to hang some ornaments but will be too small for the cat to get into). This way, you can still have a tree but the cat (hopefully) can't destroy it.
posted by asnider at 8:31 AM on November 28, 2011

Best answer: Hanging from the ceiling is probably what I would do. My mom (who is, shall we say, "creative") once hung a big spidery bare branch (deciduous, not Christmas-green) upside down from the skylight in the living room, and decorated that. The shape was a bit unwieldy, but that's really easy to fix on your own. The white lights she added were very pretty, and she could still hang ornaments if she felt like it.

Another option, which I saw in a shop last week, could involve some sort of grid. You wouldn't have to buy a pot rack, but this is the general look. It would be really easy to make/get a frame (salvaged would be pretty cool) and fill it with some sort of lattice, either plain or more decorative. Ooh, or metal mesh! The only thing is that you should make sure it's properly supported on the other side (twist ties to a rod or two would work) so the weight of the ornaments don't make the panel sag.

You could find all sorts of ornament hooks, but the Ikea Grundtal S-hooks might work easiest (if you're already going there).
posted by Madamina at 8:32 AM on November 28, 2011

Best answer: My former MIL draped fir/pine garland across her big double kitchen bow/bay window (I think using the existing curtain rod) and hung dozens of ornaments from it at varying heights & depths using fishing line. It took several days to put up but it was gorgeous, and the garland gave off the familiar christmassy-pine scent.
posted by headnsouth at 8:51 AM on November 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I don't have space for a tree, and also have a gangly excitable standard poodle, but love my Christmas ornaments as much as you do yours. My solution for the last few years has been to get a live garland (which also provides that awesome Christmas tree scent) and hang it over the windows in my living room, and string lights and hang ornaments on that. It works out beautifully.

I get my garland (also known as roping) at a local tree farm, where it's pretty cheap, but if that's not an option for you, you can buy it online many places including here.
posted by amelioration at 8:51 AM on November 28, 2011

Best answer: When I was growing up, we always put small bells as ornaments on the lowest branches of the tree to serve as cat alarms. This gives you a warning to come in and reprimand the cat. The effectiveness of this tactic goes down, of course, if you're not home for extended periods.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:15 AM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have 3 cats who find Christmas tree season to be the most wonderful time of the year. Heirloom + glass ornaments are wired from pine garlands which wind around our window curtain rods. Tinsel of any kind is banned, as it's pretty much irresistible to Teh Beasties - and also a $1,500 vet bill if it is ingested. Glass look-alike (plastic) ornaments from Sam's are wired to the actual tree.
posted by muirne81 at 9:27 AM on November 28, 2011

p.s. We learned from experience that a very wide, heavy tree stand is a worthwhile investment.
posted by muirne81 at 9:28 AM on November 28, 2011

Best answer: I have large bunches of Christmas greenery with dried twisted sticks through that I hang decorations off of sort of like this but with fresh greens underneath for a Christmas smell.

Other ideas include this

This is for Halloween but could be done for Christmas
posted by wwax at 9:31 AM on November 28, 2011

Best answer: I get Sunset because I have serious Southwest envy, and looking through the December issue last night I just happened to see this. I really find the fourth idea appealing on its own aesthetic merits--seems like it might be a good solution for you, too.

My beloved departed white cat used to like to climb up onto the lowest branch of our artificial Christmas tree and just perch there like a big furry white bird. I miss him. Fortunately, our current three are mostly well-behaved and we just need to keep the most fragile and tempting ornaments out of reach.
posted by tully_monster at 9:32 AM on November 28, 2011

We hang a wreath and decorate that. This year, we had enough ornaments that we bought a huge one (> 40 inches) - it looks nice and holds the ornaments. You'd have to be careful to hang it in some way that's not that accessible to the cats.

Other solution, more psychological: Get whatever ornament-hanging framework you're going to use, set it up a couple of days ahead of time (sans ornaments), then introduce something _more interesting_ for the cats to play on/with (maybe a new cat tree or two, maybe an actual Christmas tree but without ornaments). It may not be possible to invent something more interesting for a cat than a Christmas tree with ornaments, but it's worth a try.
posted by amtho at 9:36 AM on November 28, 2011

How about something like this- a Christmas tree ornament mobile

You could adjust the height/width for your space, and hang it high enough to not tempt the cat.
posted by aint broke at 9:44 AM on November 28, 2011

Are you crafty? Could you make something like this adorable wire Christmas tree?
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:25 AM on November 28, 2011

Best answer: Last year I bought a really big wreath from some High School Sports Team fundraiser and hung my ornaments on that. I don't have a lot of ornaments anyway, so it worked well. I am going to do the same thing again this year.

Last year, after the season ended and the ornaments were put away, I put the wreath out on the deck to dry. I then threw it into the first bonfire of the camping season. The smell was divine, and the pine cones sizzled and popped. It was wonderful.
posted by Elly Vortex at 12:33 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Aww, aint broke beat me to the suggestion I was going to make! High enough that kitty can't reach but still pretty :)
posted by brilliantine at 2:44 PM on November 28, 2011

I discourage my cats from wreaking havoc with the tree by scaring the hell out of them!

Find some small metal tins (perhaps Christmas-themed ones!). Put a handful of pennies in each one (also tape the lid down). Scatter these little booby traps throughout the lower branches of your tree. Make sure they are placed somewhat precariously in the boughs, so that even the slightest paw poke will cause them to fall on the floor, loudly. After a few run ins with this monstrous beast, my cats learned to stay the f*ck away from the tree.
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 3:18 PM on November 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Here's mine, hanging over the windows year-round because I like them.
posted by Lou Stuells at 4:26 PM on November 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you! These ideas are all great. I think what I will try firts is something horizontal (a branch or a cord or something, maybe garland) hanging from the ceiling.
I showed these ansers to a handy friend and they inspired her, too.
I might also do some wreaths, too.

I found out late yesterday afternoon that due to allergies, PointyCat will have to be on a special diet for a while so I will forgo the tree this year since I can't bribe him with his favorite treats!
posted by pointystick at 6:37 AM on November 29, 2011

I saw this late, so it won't help for this Christmas, but I have a large collection of ornaments and I also have cats. I wrap a garland around the top of a doorframe and tie ornaments to it. You'd be surprised - you can fit a thousand ornaments on a garland if you do it carefully. Cats can't reach it - you can enjoy it. If you want more instructions, memail me, and I can send a picture and explain how.
posted by clarkstonian at 11:32 AM on January 1, 2012

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