How To Cat Proof A Christmas Tree

It’s getting that time of year again when many pet owners are asking how to cat proof a Christmas tree. It can take time getting your tree to look just right. However, shiny baubles and twinkling lights can prove to much for a curious kitty!

Returning home to find your cat covered in tinsel and sitting next to a pile of broken baubles isn’t fun. To add insult to injury your feisty feline isn’t in the least bit sorry! Dogs always look guilty, but cats always seem to be smiling!

If you want to avoid a festive cat-astrophe, keep reading as I share useful tips on how to cat proof a Christmas tree. Whether you have one kitty or a multi-cat household you can still enjoy a beautiful Christmas tree that stays intact:)

In this post you’ll discover the best type of tree to get, what decorations to avoid, and potential hazards. Plus, effective deterrents, and where to place your tree.

Understanding cat behavior can help get inside the mind of your kitty. This isn’t as difficult as it sounds with a bit of practice. It can also help you think outside the box and come up with a few creative ideas to cat proof your tree.

Why an artificial tree is safer

You may love the scent of pine needles, and can’t resist a real tree. However some Christmas trees can be toxic to cats. If your kitty has a tendency to chew everything including tree branches you need to be careful. Sharp pine needles can cause irritation in the mouth, and even internal damage if swallowed.

In addition, oil from pine needles may be mildly toxic to cats. So if you want to avoid an emergency visit to the vet over the holiday season I’d advise an artificial tree.

I’ve chosen an artificial Christmas tree for a number of years now, and certainly don’t miss hoovering up needles for the next 6 months! You can get very real looking trees, or even opt for white or silver.

If you really want a real tree, opt for a spruce or low shedding pine such as the Nordman fir. You still get the aroma without the mess and it’s safer for your cat.

Where to place your tree

The best and safest place to put your Christmas tree is in the corner of a room. Not only will it make climbing more difficult but it will be safely out of the way.

If you do get a real tree that’s live, you’ll probably have a bowl of water underneath. Be aware that this could be hazardous to your cat. This is because the water may contain toxic chemicals from the tree. Make sure you cover the bowl with a cloth so your cat can’t get to it.

Bringing any new object into the home sparks curiosity, but a tall Christmas tree can be especially enticing. This is because cats are natural climbers and love exploring. In fact, it could even be mistaken for a scratching post!

To avoid accidents make sure your tree is anchored firmly in position. A playful kitty could soon topple a Christmas tree by leaping into the branches.

In addition, place your tree well away from furniture or perches your cat likes to climb on to. The temptation will be too great and you risk a toppled tree. Not a good start to the festive season!

How to cat proof a Christmas tree and avoid potential hazards

how to cat proof a christmas tree and avoid potential hazards

You probably won’t be able to keep your cat away from the tree as they do as they please, but at least taking a few precautions such as placement helps. However, you also need to consider a few potential hazards regarding decorations.

Think about where you’re placing baubles and tinsel. Any low hanging branches should be avoided as they are within easy reach of your cat’s paws.

Shiny baubles are extremely attractive to a curious kitty. If she’s managed to climb into the branches, chances are she’ll take a swipe at a few with her paw.

Avoid using the metal hooks that come with bauble decorations. Instead, replace them with ribbon or twine. This is because metal hooks could injure your cat if chewed or pawed at.

Breakable or precious ornaments should be placed in the top branches of the tree where your cat is least likely to reach. In addition, avoid hanging edible decorations.

Though cats are unable to taste sweet foods,it’s possible your kitty may try licking a chocolate ornament that she’s pulled off the tree.

Chocolate is toxic to cats and the same applies to dogs. If you want to hang sweet treats on branches, make sure they’re near the top of the tree. This way there will be less chance of your cat grabbing one.

Tinsel can be very hazardous as most cats can’t resist it’s shiny appearance. If swallowed though, it can easily cause blockages in the intestine. The last thing you want is an emergency dash to the vets over Christmas!

You can still use tinsel, but just be mindful when draping it over tree branches. Don’t let tinsel hang from lower branches, and secure tightly so your kitty can’t pull it from the tree. In addition, fake snow has become very popular and can look pretty. However, It can also be harmful to pets if swallowed. This is because fake snow may contain harmful chemicals.

Christmas lights should never be left on when unattended. This applies whether you have pets or not. In addition, avoid trailing wires. Not only do they look bad but could harm your cat if chewed, causing burns or electrocution.

Many of us enjoy placing presents for our feline friends around the tree. However, toys containing catnip will be fair game whether wrapped or not. If you want to avoid your cat tearing the paper off her gift keep it out of reach until Christmas day.

How to deter your kitty from the tree

One of the best ways of distracting your cat’s attention is by providing plenty of toys. Make a play area away from the tree with a mix of interactive games and catnip toys. Make time each day to play with your cat and make sure she burns off some of that pent up energy.

If you have a cat tower ensure it’s well away from the Christmas tree. If you don’t, she’ll thank you for providing a handy step onto the branches! Scratching posts are also great to have in the living room and help distract your cat from the tree.

Using citrus as a deterrent

Cats hate the smell of citrus, so leaving orange peel around the base of your tree will make your curious feline think twice about attacking the tree!

In addition you could make some pretty citrus tree decorations to hang from the branches. They’re easy to create and eco-friendly. You can also get a citrus repellent spray that’s proven effective with many cat owners. In addition, it can also be used to train your cat not to scratch the sofa!

Making your own citrus spray is another option. All you need is pure citronella oil and a small spray bottle. Simply pour about 30 drops of citrolla oil to 200 ml of water. Shake well and spray onto tree branches.

You’ll love the fresh, zingy aroma, but your kitty will hate it! You don’t need to spray too much, but just enough to deter your cat.

At the end of the day you can only do so much to cat proof your Christmas tree. There’s no point stressing over it since your feline friend will do as she pleases anyway. As long as you make sure there’s nothing on the tree to harm your cat and keep breakables in the top branches, you can relax and enjoy a purrfect Christmas:)

In conclusion

cat sitting near christmas tree

I hope this article has given you inspiration on how to cat proof a Christmas tree. Whether you have one kitty or several, it’s still possible to enjoy the beauty of a decorated tree. Twinkling lights and shiny baubles will be attractive to your cat no matter what you do. But, by taking a few simple steps you can at least lessen the chances of a cat-astropic disaster!

If you’ve enjoyed this post please share.

how to cat proof your christmas tree

In addition, if you have any questions or would like to share your experiences, please leave your comment below.

Wishing you a purrfect day:)


18 thoughts on “How To Cat Proof A Christmas Tree”

  1. What a very interesting article Kathy and how timely with just over a month to go before people will be starting to put up their Christmas trees. Your tip about spraying with citronella oil is a real gem and one that I shall certainly be suggested to other family members who own cats that just love climbing up challenges like this! Jim

    • Thank you Jim, glad you enjoyed this post:) Yes, citronella is good as not only do hates hate the smell but it’s very safe to use. I’m sure your family will find it a useful tool in keeping their trees kitty free:)

  2. Hi Kathy,

    Thank you for this! I love decorating for Christmas and this is my first Christmas with my own cats, so I’ve been really worrying about this! Plus, we’re about to get a bunch of new furniture delivered, and we had talked about getting something like this to deter them from scratching it all.

    Thanks you again!

    • Thank you Jade:) I also love putting decorations up at Christmas and so far my cat has been ok. Don’t worry, I’m sure everything will be fine for and your cats at Christmas. Hope your furniture delivery goes well and thanks for stopping by:)

  3. I’ve always had real trees because I love the smell of the pine needles.
    And yes, some years I have regretted this decision, but once you clean us the mess a couple of times, you get over it and get on with your day 🙂
    I like to watch my cats enjoying themselves, so as long as they are safe I don’t mind them playing with the tree.
    We can’t change their adventurous, inquisitive nature, so the best option is to make the tree as sturdy as possible as you have suggested. I never thought of citrus spray…. I’m going to try it this year to see what happens.
    Many thanks for sharing these ideas.

    • Thank you Andrew, glad you enjoyed this post:) Yes, I agree, I used to have real trees, but never very tall ones. I was careful to water the tree and needle drop wasn’t too bad. The cat I had at that time was very laid back and not at all interested in the Christmas tree. Keeping your cats safe is the most important consideration, and hope you decide to try citronella. Thanks for stopping by:)

  4. I can only imagine how a fully decorated Christmas tree looks like though cat’s eyes 🙂 I’m sure they see a big amusement park ready to be destroyed LOL. And keeping them away from the tree might seem like a mission impossible. They may avoid it whole you’re around, but as soon as you turn your back…BOOM! They on it! Anyway, I found a lot of useful tips and ideas in your post to cat-proof our Chrismas tree for years to come. I hope they’ll work. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Ivan, glad you enjoyed this post and found it useful:) Yes, cats are cunning and I’m sure they do indeed wait until you’re out before launching an attack on your Christmas tree lol! Thanks for stopping by:)

  5. This is fabulous post, some great advice on how to Cat proof a Christmas tree that said much like knowing that your cat will inevitably scratch your sofa at some point, it’s good to accept that some cats might climb on trees no matter what you do. So do the best you can to set up a beautiful (and safe) tree, but don’t fret too much if kitty decides to “redecorate.” Life is unpredictable with feline companions—that’s half the fun of it!

  6. Hi, Kathy,

    Great post! I loved the word games. It can definitely get cat-astrophic when you have a cat around a Christmas tree. When we had a cat, we had to stop setting up a Christmas tree since he would always mess it up. As you mentioned, cats do as they please and there’s only so much we can do. I prefer dogs in that respect lol.

    It’s always good to know these things as they can come in handy at the least expected moment. I will keep this in mind for future reference.

    Thanks for sharing and have a spectacularrr day!

    • Hi Enrique, glad you enjoyed this post:) Sad you couldn’t have a Christmas tree with your cat, but it may have been cat-astrophic if he had his way lol! I also like dogs but prefer living life on the edge with a feisty feline! Thanks for stopping by:)

  7. Wow! I never thought of the dangers of having a Christmas tree before much less what it can do to pets! That was a real eyeopener! I really love the idea of the citrus spray and citrus on the tree itself! I bet that looks charming as well! Thanks for the ideas!

    • Thank you Brianna, yes citrus has a wonderful fresh aroma, while deterring your cat from the Christmas tree. So glad you enjoyed this post and thanks for stopping by:)

  8. I have 5 cats, the 4 girls are not interested in and of the trees.
    Blacky the tom cat just loves playing with the smallest tree and whats more, its alway play time at 3am to get our attention.
    However, we would not trade him for the world

    • Hi Anne, thanks for sharing your cat’s reaction to trees:) Not all cats show interest thank goodness lol! I agree with you and wouldn’t trade my cat in either, even though he’s jumping on my laptop lol!

  9. I got a sweet orange essential oil that I was going to mix with a little water and spray on the tree…will this work?

    • Hi Veronica, yes it might. As cats hate the smell of citrus there’s a good chance it will work. You’ll also have a lovely scent on your tree! Thanks for stopping by:)


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