Sunday, December 6, 2015

Cat-safe holiday decorations

A couple of years ago, I started putting up holiday decorations indoors as well as out. Since the decorations I use outside are a simple mixture of natural greenery and ribbons, I continued this theme inside, with bits of evergreen, pine cones, and red berries, dressed up with some bright holiday ribbon. The only store-bought touch was the jingle-bell ornaments I hung from lengths of ribbon on each of the doors along the upstairs hallway.

I was pretty satisfied with this decorating scheme, but it didn't take me more than a minute to realize some parts of it just weren't going to work with our new cats in the house. Unlike sedate Amélie, who almost never jumped on anything higher than the futon, these cats get into, onto, and through everything within reach. If I tried to put baskets of evergreens on top of the tables, the cats would be sure to drag all the green stuff out of the baskets to play with or, worse still, eat. As for those little jingly bells, I was sure the kitties would find them so fascinating that they would jump up and bat at the doors as many times as it took to bring them down, and when that was done, they'd try to pull down the ribbon and shred it.

So this year, I figured I'd have to modify my decorations to make them cat-safe. For the most part, this meant putting them in high-up locations where the cats either can't or don't care to jump. Thus, I was able to keep my little pots of greenery on top of the living room bookshelf...

...and even add a couple more on the office bookcase.

I was also able to keep the bunches of evergreens in the pitchers on top of the living room TV cabinet, since that surface is too cluttered with pottery for the cats to jump on it. In fact, we've even added a few new items, a set of dessert dishes from my folks...and since I couldn't use the jingle-bell ornaments on the doors, I came up with the idea of putting them into these dessert dishes with a little spray of evergreen each and then twining the ribbons around their stems. That looked so nice that I added one to the colander full of pine cones, as well, and I think the finished display is both festive and elegant.

That still left me with one jingle-bell and length of attached ribbon, and I found the perfect place for that on top of the bathroom medicine chest, yet another spot the cats don't jump onto because it's too narrow for them. I just tucked the bell into the potted plant that's sitting up there, twined the ribbon around its basket, and set a little pear ornament next to it to reinforce the holiday theme.

In the kitchen, I was able to keep my usual arrangement on top of the refrigerator, with a pair of snowman salt and pepper shakers accompanied by a star tree topper my folks got us from Ten Thousand Villages. I added another of my little evergreen pots and our menorah to round out this holiday grouping. (We figure we'll have to set the menorah up there after lighting it all throughout Hanukkah anyway, since it's the only place we can put it where it's out of the cats' reach and away from anything flammable.)

That left me with no decorations in the guest room or anywhere downstairs. There is one surface in the guest room that's out of the cats' reach, but it's entirely covered with toys (mostly belonging to Brian, though I'll own up to a few of them). But toys are a natural match for Christmas, so I figured all they needed was something to dress them up. I was all out of the red and silver sparkly ribbon, so I pulled out a length of some other holiday ribbon I had and draped that around the shoulders of the Iron Giant and across the rest of the gathering.

The big downstairs room (still can't quite make up my mind what to call it—I thought I'd settled on "rec room," but it doesn't roll naturally off my tongue) posed a problem. Last year I put pots of evergreens on both windowsills, but I know the cats habitually hang out on one of those windowsills, and the other is at least theoretically reachable for them. I could only find one spot that was definitely out of the cats' reach: a teeny-weeny little shelf on the very top of the etagère where we keep our family photos. So I set one last little pot of evergreens in that spot, though it isn't much decoration for such a large room. Maybe I need to make something a little bigger, like one of those miniature tabletop Christmas trees. In that spot, we could probably even hang ornaments on it without having to fear that they'd end up as cat toys.

And finally, since I'd added some decoration in the upstairs bathroom, I decided to do some in the downstairs bath as well. The one high-up spot is on top of the corner cabinet where I keep my collection of cobalt glassware, so I did the same thing there that I'd done with the toys in the office; twined the last little bits of silver ribbon through the glassware, as well as a piece of gold star garland that I'd picked up at some office party. Since the downstairs bath has a sort of sun-moon-and-stars decorating scheme, this fits in quite nicely.

Ta-da! Cat-safe holiday decorations, on a budget. In fact, since all the ribbon and other materials was reused from last year, we actually didn't spend a penny on them. Though I might be inclined to pop into the dollar store and see if I can find any more of that red or silver ribbon...I think there are a couple of light fixtures I could drape some on while still keeping it out of reach of curious paws.

Post a Comment