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How to Cat Proof Your Christmas Tree: 11 Proven Solutions

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on January 11, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

homemade gray tabby cat in a plaid tie with a Christmas tree

How to Cat Proof Your Christmas Tree: 11 Proven Solutions

There’s nothing like the warmth and coziness that comes from setting up your Christmas tree during the holiday season. For cat owners, however, decorating for the holidays is often accompanied by anxiety and dread. Our beloved pets may be the sweetest things all year long…that is until the Christmas tree is set up. There’s something about the tree that transforms adorable and gentle cats into mischievous whirlwinds intent on destroying Christmas like some furry, four-legged Ebenezer Scrooge.

If you’re looking for ways to cat-proof your Christmas tree and find harmony in your household during the holidays, we can help. Read on to find 11 expert solutions to help keep your tree upright and cat-free as much as possible this upcoming Christmas.

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The 11 Ways to Cat-Proof Your Christmas Tree

1. Consider Your Tree Set-Up Location

Try to set up your Christmas tree away from any furniture that could become a launching zone. A cat can easily jump onto your tree from a nearby sofa or television stand. Set it up far away from furniture or shelving your cat can traverse and jump from. You might consider utilizing a corner of your home to make climbing it more difficult.

cat playing with ornaments on christmas tree
Image Credit: Myshun, Pixabay

2. Hide the Tree Base

Covering the water-filled tree base is important if you opt for a real tree. Stagnant water can harbor bacteria and may contain fertilizers that can cause stomach upset, nausea, or diarrhea if ingested.

You can also use tin foil to wrap around the tree base to keep your cat away.


3. Choose a Shorter Tree

As tempting as it is to have a sky-high tree, we recommend choosing a smaller option. Cats are athletic litter creatures and have a natural attraction to trees. Though they may try to climb up it regardless of its height, a shorter tree will do less damage than a seven-footer when it falls.

If you must have a tall tree, secure it to the ground or floor to prevent your pet from knocking it over.

Christmas tree cat
Image Credit: Unsplash

4. Try Deterrents

Cats are extremely stubborn, and many will still try to take down the tree or the ornaments regardless of how many steps you take to prevent that from happening. Deterrents are great to try to make your tree less appealing.

Cats hate the smell of citrus, so placing orange peels around the tree base can help keep them at bay. Plus, it’ll make your home smell lovely too. Another scent deterrent is apple cider vinegar. You can spray a mixture of ACV with water on your tree, though it won’t smell as good as citrus peels.

A tree trunk wrapped in foil can serve the same purpose. Cats generally hate the feeling of foil on their feet, so they’ll be less inclined to climb the tree if it’s wrapped up.


5. Decorate Smarter

Everyone loves a sparkling Christmas tree decked out with all the beautiful baubles, but when you share your home with cats, you need to decorate with your kitty in mind. Cats can be mischievous and may want to explore every inch of your tree, tasting the decorations and knocking them to the ground.

Choose large ornaments that won’t be a choking hazard for your kitty. Glass ones should be avoided, if possible, to keep your home free of broken glass. If you must hang glass baubles, consider tying them to the tree branches to prevent them from getting knocked out.

Place ornaments out of your cat’s reach. Hang them on the top half of the tree and toward the center instead of at the end of the branch.

cat lying under christmas tree
Image Credit: jhenning, Pixabay

6. Unplug the Lights

Lit trees are beautiful, but the electrical components can be an electrocution hazard if your kitty is a chewer. Unplug your tree when you’re not around to supervise. Though unplugging the lights won’t stop your pet from chewing the cord, it can prevent them from being electrocuted.

Alternatively, invest in cord protectors to wrap around the cables of your electronics. This is not a bad thing to always have on hand if you know your cat loves to chew through cords. My cat is a big cord eater, so we have protectors on all the thin cables we know she likes to chew on.


7. Set Up a Sturdy Barrier

Another technique you can try to keep your cat away from the tree is to set up a barrier around it. Of course, this won’t work to keep all cats out, as they’re exceptional jumpers, but it may keep older pets or those less agile away. Set up lattice fencing or an adjustable baby gate like this one around the tree.

Baby Gate Dog Gate
Image Credit: Rianna M. Hill, Shutterstock

8. Say No to Tinsel

Tinsel may be cheap and flashy, but it’s a big no-no in households with pets over the holidays. Tinsel refers to the small strands of shiny plastic that drape over the tree. You can place them in individual strands throughout your tree to emulate icicles.

Tinsel is dangerous to household pets because it’s shiny, skinny, and easy to explore with the mouth. It’s hard to chew, and because it’s so long, it’s hard to get out once it is in your pet’s mouth. If a piece of it does make it through your pet’s esophagus, it will sit in her gastrointestinal tract, potentially causing obstructions or cutting through her digestive tract lining. Tinsel is also a choking hazard and could get lodged in the respiratory tract.


9. Opt for a Fake Tree if Possible

As beautiful as real trees are during the holiday season, they aren’t the most cat-friendly option. Pine needles can be extremely dangerous for curious cats, who may find the needles to be tasty.

If you must have a live tree, choose a spruce or fir. However, you’ll still need to stay on top of the stray needles that’ll inevitably find their way onto your floor. Tree needles can be sharp and can cause damage to your pet’s internal organs.

Artificial trees are generally the best option for pet-friendly households. They won’t dry up and drop needles, and because they won’t smell as natural as a real tree, they may be less tempting for your kitty to explore. Choose one without flocking (fake snow), as it can be mildly toxic if ingested.

Father and son trying to assemble the artificial Christmas tree together
Image Credit: Dekazigzag, Shutterstock

10. Provide Fun Distractions

Even after you’ve taken all the above safety precautions, you’ll still need to keep a close eye on your feline family members during the holiday season. It’s easy for us to get distracted during this busy time of the year, which may mean your cats are getting less attention than they are used to. Set aside time daily to play with them to help them burn off excess energy they may otherwise put toward destroying your holiday décor.


11. Consider Alternative Tree Option

Sometimes, cats refuse to be anything but troublemakers. If you’ve taken all the above precautions and your cat is channeling their inner Grinch, trying to ruin Christmas by bringing down your tree, know that you still have options. You may not be able to have a Christmas tree in the traditional sense, but there are plenty of alternatives you can consider instead.

Check out our blog on the subject to find great substitutes like an ornament tree hung from the ceiling or holiday ladders.

Cat christmas tree ornament
Image Credit by: utroja0, Pixabay

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Final Thoughts

Cats are mischievous little critters, especially when the Christmas tree comes out. Hopefully, our 11 solutions above can help restore harmony in your home so you can enjoy your beautiful tree without worrying about when your cat will wrestle it to the ground or destroy all your beautiful keepsake baubles.


Featured Image Credit By: Nadtochiy, Shutterstock

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