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cat parent must-knows
Orange cat in a Christmas tree

Cats love Christmas trees

Have you noticed your curious cat eyeing the Christmas tree from across the room? Ornaments and tinsel are intriguing to cats because they love shiny objects. So we can’t blame them for thinking decorations are toys! After spending hours decorating your tree, you don’t want your cat to destroy your hard work. All the same, you don’t want Fluffy to get hurt or eat something that might harm them. So, it’s essential to decorate a cat-proof Christmas tree this year.

11 ways to cat-proof your Christmas tree 

There are steps you can take to protect your kitty and tree. By following these tips, you and your cat can both enjoy your festive decor.

1. Secure your tree

The first order of business is to make sure the base of the tree is secure so your cat can’t knock it over. To secure your Christmas tree in its unwavering base you should:

  1. Adjust the stump of the tree in the stand and secure the base by following the instructions that come with the stand
  2. Make sure the tree is upright
  3. Let the tree’s branches settle in place for up to 24 hours to stabilize before hanging ornaments
  4. Use shims at the back of the tree to keep it in place in case of tipping

For extra support, set up your tree in a corner — wrapping fishing line around the base — and attach it with a wire to the wall. You can also attach eye hooks to the wall to keep the tree upright. That way, if your cat attempts to knock it over it will stay upright.

2. Keep ornaments out of reach

Cats have a fascination with shiny baubles and Christmas light strands. That’s why we recommend hanging your decorations where your cat can’t reach them. Consider hanging delicate or breakable ornaments above your cat’s eye level so they can’t see them. Avoid using those lower branches. The higher up the ornaments, the less likely your cat will reach and break them.

3. Fasten ornaments to the tree with ties

Make sure your ornaments and ribbons are extra secure on your Christmas tree. While some people use metal hooks to secure ornaments on the tree, we recommend ties. Hooks can be potentially dangerous to cats if they scratch at the tree with their paws.

4. Avoid tinsel, holly, and artificial snow

While we know tinsel and other decorations look pretty, it’s best to avoid them if you have a cat. Curious kitties like tinsel because it’s sparkly. But, if your cat ingests it, it can cause vomiting or intestinal blockage.

👉 If you have mistletoe, hang it near the ceiling to keep your cat’s paws away. 

5. Wrap the trunk in aluminum foil and citrus

To keep your cat away from your Christmas tree, consider wrapping the trunk in foil and spraying it with a citrus spray. Cats dislike the feel of foil and the smell of citrus, so these deterrents could keep them at a distance from your tree.

Our veterinarian also recommends using a PetSafe Pawz Away barrier to keep your cat away from the tree. When your pet enters the pet-free zone, the transmitter sends a signal to your pet’s collar. The safe static correction lets your cat know that they can’t go in that room.

6. Use a tree skirt

Your feline friends might try to drink from the water bowl at the base of your tree. If you place a tree skirt over the water, it can help prevent your cat from drinking it. You can also consider putting a small fence around the base of your tree, or buy a Christmas tree stand with a covered base.

👉 Keep your cat’s water bottle or drinking fountain full of clean water at all times so they aren’t tempted to drink your Christmas tree’s water. 

7. Unplug the tree

When you’re not home you should unplug your Christmas tree’s lights because cats like to chew electrical cords. Use tubing or duct tape to cover cords so your cat won’t hurt themselves.

🚨 It can be extremely dangerous for your cats to chew at electrical cords because it can cause electrocution or choking.

8. Put presents under the tree last-minute

Cats love presents, too. Don’t put your presents under the tree before Christmas. While that may not be very festive, your cat is likely to scatch at wrapping paper or bows. To prevent a mess and wrapping presents again, keep them hidden until Christmas.

9. Buy your cat their own tree

If you buy your cat a play tree for themselves, it will distract them from getting into trouble with your tree. There are plenty of trees your cat can climb and scratch at which will entertain them just as much as your Christmas tree.

10. Close off your living room

If you can, close off the room in your house where you keep your Christmas tree. That way, you can avoid altercations between your cat and the Christmas tree.

11. Sweep fallen needles

If you have a real tree, you should clean up the fallen needles every day. If your cat tries to eat a tree’s needles it can be dangerous.

🚨 While pine needles aren’t necessarily poisonous, they can puncture a cat’s gastrointestinal tract.

What Christmas trees are cat safe?

You might be wondering if real or artificial trees are better for cats. The answer: it doesn’t make a difference. Both have their pros and cons, but real trees can pose slightly more risk. With a fake tree, you won’t have to worry about your cat drinking water or eating fallen pine cones or needles. However, you’ll have to make sure the tree is stable and decorations are out of reach.

It’s normal for cats to be curious and want to explore. Around the holidays, it’s especially important to keep cats away from decorations. We also want to help you keep your pretty ornaments and trees intact. Cat-proof Christmas trees are key to a smooth festive season with your pet. We hope these tips help you and your cat survive the holiday season!

Frequently asked questions 

What is the best kind of Christmas tree for cats?

While there’s no best Christmas tree for cats, the size of the tree can make a difference. You may want to consider a small tree vs. a tall tree. You can sit a tabletop tree on furniture, making it hard for your cat to reach.

Can Christmas trees be toxic or poisonous?

Trees aren’t poisonous to cats, but tree fertilizer and pine sap can be. Cats ingest sap by chewing on a tree’s needles or branches, making it extra crucial for your tree to be cat-proof. Never add things like aspirin to your Christmas tree water. In the case that your cat drinks this water, it can be extremely toxic. If you think your cat has eaten or ingested something poisonous, call the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center immediately at 1-888-426-4435.