Decorating a home is more than deciding what you like and don’t like. If you are living alone, that makes the decorating decisions easy. But, rarely do most of us live alone. We may start out alone, but after a while, we add a partner, usually a husband or a wife, then comes children, and after that, perhaps a cat or a dog. All these live additions to the home create new ideas for decorating. I’m not talking about necessities, I’m talking about the additional things that turn an apartment or a house into a home. Since the Christmas season is upon us lets consider home decorating with our pets in mind.
Home Decorating with a Cat
What we have said about cats in previous articles still holds true. A cat believes everything in the house belongs to her. She just gives us permission to use it. Therefore, she expects us to consult with her on every new item we bring into our living quarters. She must inspect it, smell it, rub her chin on it, give it a full body rub.
Watch her carefully, especially if the new item is a piece of furniture- the next move is to stand up on her hind legs and run her front feet over it. If she has claws, she needs to be discouraged immediately. (See-Train your Cat not to claw the furniture). If she turns around and walks away from the new item, she has accepted it. You may keep it.
What about Christmas Trees, plants, gifts, and all things glittery? Think “high.” Think, “no way she can jump from here to there?” Probably best if you don’t insist on a live ChristmasTree. If a live tree is a must, then the cat will have to be locked in another room when everybody is gone, and when everybody has gone to bed. An artificial tree will be less stressful for everyone. Anchor it well, so there is little likelihood it will fall.
Decorate the tree as you usually would, starting from the top down. Stop decorating about 3 or 4 branches from the bottom, unless you don’t mind redecorating these branches several times a day.
Poinsettias are dangerous for cats. If you have a plant, keep it in a room that is closed off from the cat. Mistletoe berries can make a cat sick, actually, any plant with berries can be bad for a cat. Your furry friend will beg you for any tasty morsel from the dinner table. Don’t give her anything except maybe some turkey-no gravy -and check for bones.
Cats like to pull off ribbons from the presents, and tear off wrapping paper, too. Leave presents in the closet until time to open. Or, if you want presents under the tree before distributing them, put them out shortly before opening, so you can keep an eye out for the cat.
Home Decorating with a Dog
Dogs will do many of the things that cats do, but, if you have taken the time to train your dog, it will be easier to keep your dog away from decorations you want left intact. Make sure your dog responds to commands like : NO!, Stay Down! Don’t Jump! Drop it!, etc.
If you have a live tree, don’t let your dog drink the water in the container the tree is set in. The water may contain some chemicals to keep the tree fresh longer.
Some dogs, however, do like to chew on boxes, ribbons, tree decorations, strings of lights, etc. It is always easier to put hazardous things up or away from places where pets can get to them, rather than spend your days yelling at your dog.
Be careful what you give to your dog as a treat from the dinner table. Chicken bones and Turkey bones will splinter when dogs clamp down on them. If swallowed, these splinters could damage the intestinal tract.
Some vets suggest that dogs should not be given any bones at all, even those that are manufactured and packaged especially for dogs. Bones of any kind can cause choking, vomiting, damage to the mouth, or blockage in the digestive tract.(Check with your vet about bones for your dog). Just stick with some turkey meat, without the bones, if you want to include your dog in the feast.
Dogs will also eat anything left out and easily reached. Chocolate is especially dangerous for dogs. Put the candy box away after indulging in a few sweets.
Note: a few years ago, I had family over for Christmas dinner and we had a round of candies before we left to visit friends. Unfortunately, I left the candy box -lid on- on the coffee table. When we came home, the candy box was on the floor, with the lid off and quite a few chocolates missing. My poor dog was terribly sick. She survived after a very miserable evening. I learned from that incident to always put food away.
So How Can Pets and Decorations Co-Exist in a Household?
First of all, use some common sense when looking for decorations for the house. Don’t get a lot of things that dangle, or have gold or silver sprinkles. If you want live decorations -wreaths-trees, etc. watch your pets to make sure they are not ingesting pine needles, berries, bits of tree bark. If you have a live tree, be sure to sweep or vacuum the area at least once a day.
Keep plants away from pets. Watch for dropped leaves or flowers and pick them up immediately. Especially keep Poinsettias on a high shelf, where even a cat can’t get to. Empty garbage cans every day, even more than that if you are doing a lot of cooking or arranging bouquets, etc.
Artificial trees and wreaths and garlands are safer for inside decorating, if you have pets around. However, remember artificial decorations can be toxic, too. Some paints, glitter and glue can be toxic to pets and even children.
So when you are starting to decorate your home, don’t just “Deck the Halls with boughs of Holly” but rather “Deck the Walls—“high”. Put wreaths, garlands and plants up, out of reach. Sturdy your tree and don’t decorate the bottom three or four rows of branches. Keep your furry friends in mind when you decorate for any occasion.