How To Keep Your Cat Out Of Your Christmas Tree

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festive cat sitting in front of a decorated Christmas tree

Christmas is everyone’s favourite time of the year especially curious, confident and outgoing cats who love the festivities and Christmas presents as much as we do.

Yet for certain felines, it may be a stressful period with a lack of routine, many visitors, a large Christmas tree filled with lights and adornments in the corner of the living room and a risky period from ingestion of foreign bodies.

Let’s explore why cats get excited when we bring home a Christmas Tree and why they can’t wait to ‘destroy’ it once we finish decorating it.

Why Cats Love Christmas Trees

cat sitting between Christmas ornaments and lights

Christmas ornaments are perfect batting opportunities, transforming the tree into a large cat play area whilst the sparkly trinkets as well as hanging tinsel resemble new cat toys.

How can a cat resist an enthralling tall Christmas tree full of hanging ornaments with gifts beneath? After all, trees with perching branches are built for cats whilst wrapped presents look and feel like comfortable boxes!

A Christmas tree is the ultimate playground for a curious feline. First, they’re drawn to the tree since:

It’s A Novel Irresistible Item

Most cats love investigating as well as interacting with novel objects within their surrounding through hide/seek and scratching since they get bored easily at home, they can’t withstand the desire of a tall new object filled with tantalizing odours.

It Encompasses Outdoor Scents

Traditionally the Christmas tree is typically an evergreen conifer such as fir, pine or spruce, cut freshly with enticing scents of woody bark together with outdoor smells. Real Christmas trees contain razor-sharp pine needles and produce oils plus sap which are alluring however toxic and may cause injury if ingested so please watch out.

It Provides Climbing Opportunities For Kittens And Curious Cats

The temptation of a genuine or artificial Christmas tree may prove too much for a kitten who’s yet to experience the outside or seeing their first-ever shrub whilst a tall tree may prove irresistible for an adventuresome cat mistaking it with a large vertical scratching post particularly if they don’t have sufficient indoor vantage points at home (i.e. cat tree, shelves, condo).

Furthermore, climbing trees comes naturally to cats since innately it gives them a far better view of their environment which helps them survey their surroundings keeping them safe from potential threats and predators. Balancing precariously on the tip of the Christmas tree could seem funny to visitors however it’s dangerous and a recipe for a large vet bill from falls.

The Mesmerising Dangling Decorations And Festive Lights Can Prove Tantalizing

Christmas ornaments made out of glass or ceramics are perfect batting opportunities for a mischievous cat who lacks indoor play opportunities, transforming the tree into a large cat play area whilst the sparkly trinkets as well as hanging tinsel resemble new cat toys with a substantial risk of glass breakage and ingestion which might cause potential harm.

Glittering Christmas adornment and lights are a play area for a peculiar cat however can pose danger from exposed wiring should your cat attempt to chew on the electrical cabling.

How To Keep Cats Out Of Christmas Trees

cat playing with a Christmas tree ornament

Holiday decorations are attractive for cats, so selecting unbreakable, non-shiny, plastic or soft tree trinkets could be a great strategy.

Instinctively you can’t change your cat however you can safeguard your conifer and cherished cat by taking the following steps to ‘cat-proof’ your Christmas tree this holiday season:

Choose A Safe Spot And Secure Your Christmas Tree

First, place the tree in a safe spot far away from your cat’s favourite perching spots like shelves or cat trees. To ensure your tree doesn’t topple, add a sturdy base and make sure to anchor it to the wall or ceiling just in case your cat decides to use it as a scratcher or climb on top while you’re asleep.

Select Unbreakable Safe Ornaments And Place Them Up High

Holiday decorations are attractive for kittens as well as adult cats, select unbreakable, non-shiny, plastic or soft tree trinkets and avoid placing ornaments low to eliminate your cat knocking them off.

Hang decorations high up out of reach and if possible, avoid hanging ingestible tinsel or anything resembling string or ribbon altogether. If you end up hanging garland, ensure it’s at the top of the tree and can’t be easily swallowed.

Don’t place real candles or snow globe ornaments since they are filled with water plus ethylene glycol (known as antifreeze) which is toxic to cats.

Remember To Cover Electrical Wiring

Electrical cords are a tempting chew toy whilst also a tangling hazard, cover any exposed wiring with plastic tubes and turn lights off at the mains when your cat is home alone.

Block Off The Tree Water

If you have a live Christmas tree and your cat enjoys drinking water, make sure to place a tree skirt or tin foil over the base to prevent your cat from sipping the water with added chemicals that can make your cat sick. If your cat is prone to nibbling on things they’re not supposed to, it’s best to purchase an artificial tree.

Redirect Your Cat To A Dedicated Play Area Or A Cat Condo

Set up a dedicated play area slightly further away from the tree whilst redirecting your kitty to the new playground with novel toys and boxes. Even better, surprise your feline with an early Christmas present of a cat condo plus reward them with praise and treats for choosing the kitty scratcher instead of the Christmas tree.

Lastly, If Using A Potted Tree, Keep Soiled Containers Covered

If you’re using a potted tree, beware of using fertilisers that are toxic to moggies and cover the soiled container to decrease the possibility of them being used as litter trays.


Keeping your intrigued cat out of the Christmas tree will ensure the protection of your tree as well as nearby items, but most importantly the safety and wellbeing of your beloved cat this holiday season. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year!

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I spray on my Christmas tree to keep cats away?

To repel your cat make your own spray by mixing water plus lemongrass or spray citronella oil. You can also hang juicy orange or lemon peels as decorations however you’ll need to replace them every few days to ensure their freshness.

How do I stop my cat from attacking my Christmas tree?

If your cat insists on attacking your Christmas tree, either fence off the tree or keep your cat out of the room in which the Christmas tree is in while you’re out of the house.

What smell keeps cats away from Christmas tree?

Cats can’t stand many smells, particularly citrus like orange, lemon and lime. They also don’t like vinegar; you can try spraying pine cones with apple cider vinegar and placing them under the tree to keep your cat away.

How do I keep the pets away from my Christmas tree?

Try covering the trunk of your live tree with aluminium foil, most cats dislike the feel of the foil and place few orange/lemon peels round the base. Exercise pens, baby gates or a barrier may deter a dog, however a mischievous cat may need its own cat tree and additional playtime to burn off surplus energy.

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About Melina Grin

Melina’s love of animals began in childhood when she cared for sick or stray dogs and cats while dreaming of becoming a Vet. While working in the Veterinary field as a Vet Nurse, she found a distinct interest and passion in Cat Behaviour and Small Animal Rehabilitation. Melina recently obtained her Feline Behaviour and Training certification and is the proud director of Pet Nurture in Sydney (Australia). Melina contributes to various animal publications in the United States, Australia & NZ and is also the founder and admin of the Facebook group: Feline Courses, Seminars, Webinars & Events.

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