Shindig season is upon us, and thus, cleaning, cooking, and decorating is in full swing! But if you have some cats roaming about, you know that all of those festive little doodads can be downright hazardous - or, equally as accurate, your cats can be hazardous to your doodads. Either way, it's important to know how to adorn your environment without endangering your fuzzy friends. So today, we'll talk about a few cat-safe decorations to help spruce up your home without hurting its inhabitants.
So the title of this section mentions Christmas, but these rules apply to pretty much any decorative event. No matter the occasion, there are a few rules to keep in mind when spreading on the embellishments.
Cat-Safe Decorating Rules
Decorating Rule No. 1
For starters, try to keep kitty in a separate location while you're decorating - that might mean something as simple as closing the bedroom door while he's napping on your bed, or something as complicated as coaxing him into the bathroom. No matter how you go about it, it's usually better not to let him see you working. Why? Well, ever try cooking with a curious cat in the kitchen? And forget crocheting. I mean... even the simple act of writing something on paper is a matter of interest to some felines. Just imagine if you whipped out the shiny banners or bobbled, dangly ornaments! If he sees you "playing" with these fascinating things, he'll definitely want to join in. Or at least investigate them when you're not looking.
Decorating Rule No. 2
The next rule of cat-safe decorating is keeping your lighting in check. Candles, of course, should be out of reach, and if possible, left out altogether. Wires are another potential problem. Most cats, especially our more mature felines, may have already learned that these things simply are not toys. But given that there will likely be a lot more around, his hunt/kill instinct might get the better of him. To help remedy this, you can easily run your cords through plastic tubing, or simply bundle your cords and line them along a more inconspicuous area.
Decorating Rule No. 3
The last big rule of feline-friendly embellishing is avoiding anything sharp, easily breakable, or fun to swallow. There are tons of exceedingly ornate ornaments on the market. Though these can be very, very lovely, they are also prone to fiddly pieces that can be delicate, pointy, or easy to ingest. If you do have a few of these around and plan on using them, just make sure they are used in high up spots - well out of range of your curious kitty. Furthermore, you will want to avoid long, slender, stringy decorations - like tinsel or shaggy garland.
So now that you have some basic safety rules under your belt, it's time to look into some fun, stylish cat-safe decorations.
Holiday Trees - The Cat's Natural Enemy
Let's start with the biggest "attractive nuisance" when it comes to home decorating in a feline-loving household: the Christmas Tree. By now, you probably know that a live tree can be a real problem around kitties - I mean, they shed sharp, swallowable things; they can poke you in the eye; you have to keep them damp at all times, otherwise everyone's holiday will be ruined. Just not that festive, if you actually consider it. So why not go for an alternative? If you're handy, you can try creating a Pallet Wood tree. The beauty of this is that your cat can get in on all of the fun - especially if you build some steps in the back, or install a bit of strategically-placed sisal fabric. If you're less handy, you can instead opt for a tree-themed wall decal, or a less-cat-mystifying table top tree that is kept well out of place.
Dangling glass ornaments are pretty common - we've all had them at some point or another, and let's be honest, we've all busted one or two of them. Now imagine that you're a curious kitty batting at one, then BAM! it crashes to the ground, causing all sorts of dangerous sharp bits to fly everywhere... and I mean everywhere. So instead of those all-too-familiar dainty little things, go for large, solid plastic baubles; soft-sided woods; and simple folded paper. If cats are an actual theme instead of just an implied one, you can also string up feathery cat toys or thick, colorful pom-pom balls.
Now's the time to get crafty! There are a ton of origami flower patterns available online. Whip up a couple dozen with thin white paper, then dye them with plant dyes or tea to get the perfect colors to match your party’s theme. These can easily be strung up and hung throughout the house, or tied with crafter's tape or twine to artificial twigs.
As per the above outlined rules, you'll likely want to steer clear of anything overly stringy or loose. So if you want to avoid the regular garlands, you can instead make your own by stringing up thick felt pom-pom balls. You can also try making a string of heavy-duty wooden beads - just make sure that your string is quite thick, and that your beads are far larger than your cat's mouth... just in case he manages to break through that sturdy string! Banners made up of rope, and felt or cardboard flags can also be quite pretty, and are generally safe for your feline, even if he does forget himself and tear it down.
Create your own cat toy-style garland. For this, all that you'll need is a heavy string or sisal rope - I would recommend t-shirt string, as it's both thick and easy to work with, plus you can make it yourself if you have some old shirts lying around - just try to avoid anything too slender or likely to break into pieces, like regular yarn. To create this garland:
- Measure out the length you want for your finished piece, then add another two to four inches, to allow space for knotting.
- Next, measure out nine pieces of string, and separate them into three batches of three.
- Take your first batch and knot one end together. Braid these strands together, then tie off at the end.
- Repeat the whole process with the next two batches.
- Next, cut two five inch strands.
- Weave one strand through your three braided ropes, then knot them together.
- Braid your three ropes together to create one large garland, then use your second stray string to weave together the other end.
- Drape your garland through tree boughs, along walls, or over counters, trims, or railings.
When it comes to cat-safe decorations, plants, like candles, are usually best avoided. Although many kitties will have little to no interest in them, many others will feel compelled to give them a quick taste. Unfortunately, a lot of the most popular choices - like poinsettia, ivy, and lilies - are quite toxic. If you cannot go without a bit of botanical flair, then arrangements with roses, violets, zinnias, marigolds, pansies, or orchids should be fine. You could also opt for non-toxic artificial flowers, or, as I mentioned earlier in this article, you could make some pretty paper blossoms instead.
Kitties can do a number on decorations, and unfortunately, some of the most common types are quite likely to bite back. Thankfully, there are plenty of cat-safe decorations that you can use to spruce up your home for just about any event you can dream up!