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Home > Cats > How to Keep Cats Away From Christmas Trees: 5 Effective Ways

How to Keep Cats Away From Christmas Trees: 5 Effective Ways

Cat with a christmas tree in the background

The holidays are magical, but if you’re celebrating Christmas with a cat for the first time, you’re bound to have a new problem: a cat that won’t leave your tree alone. When you’re trying to figure out how to keep cats off Christmas trees, it can seem all but impossible.

The good news is that it isn’t. Here, we highlighted five tried-and-proven methods to keep your cat away from your Christmas tree and included a few tips on cat-proofing your tree. The more methods you apply, the better off you’ll be!


The 5 Ways to Keep Cats Away From Christmas Trees

1. Scents and Sprays

apple cider vinegar
Image Credit: focal point, Shutterstock

This is by far the most effective way to keep cats away from your Christmas tree, but it isn’t completely foolproof. Still, if you can use a scent that cats don’t like, you won’t have them around your tree nearly as much.

Common scents to use include anything citrusy, including apple cider vinegar. You can spray the smell around the base of your tree, but for added potency, consider spraying pinecones and strategically placing them throughout your tree.

Keep in mind that the scent will wear down over time, so you’ll have to reapply the spray every once in a while to get the best possible results.

2.  Aluminum Foil

It’s a well-known fact that cats don’t like aluminum foil. Of course, you’re not going to turn your Christmas tree into a giant tin-foil hat, but you can still use aluminum foil to your advantage.

Simply wrap aluminum foil around the base of your tree, and you’ve installed a serious deterrent to keep your cat from climbing up your tree. Even better, since it’s just around the base, you don’t even see it!

3. Hide the Fun Stuff

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

Cats love to play with stuff and dangly options are irresistible. While having dangling objects are inevitable when decorating a tree, there are probably some that you can nicely tuck away to keep temptation at bay.

Chief among the things that you should hide are the electrical cords. Not only will hiding the electrical cords help keep your cat away from your tree, but it’ll also help keep your cat safe. If your cat breaks through the cord when they’re batting it around, they can easily shock themselves.

4. Strategically Place the Tree

Where you place your tree will have a huge impact on how successful you are at keeping the cats away. You want somewhere that doesn’t have many strategic launching points for your cat to use to get to the tree.

If they can jump from windowsills or sofas to get into the tree, chances are that they will. Try to place your tree away from other objects so your cat doesn’t have as many ways to get to it.

5. Orange Rinds and Citrus

citrus fruit
Image Credit: Obodai26 from Pixabay

While you can use artificial citrus scents to keep your cat away from your tree, why not go for the real thing? Place a few orange or other citrus rinds around the base of your tree, and they’ll keep your cat away.

Even better, these are completely natural, which means you don’t have to worry if little hands or paws start to explore!


The 6 Ways to Cat-Proof a Christmas Tree

1. Set Your Tree Up Slowly

Cats are creatures of habit, and any type of change in their environment can upset them. So, when their space is suddenly invaded by a weird-smelling tree garnished with trinkets and baubles, it’s no wonder they may have a hard time adjusting.

Leave it bare for a few days before you adorn your tree with your precious ornaments. This will allow your cat time to become familiar with the tree itself before adding more new things to his environment.

2. Place Your Ornaments Strategically

Gifts under christmas tree
Image Credit: Deena, Pexels

There’s nothing quite like that warm and comforting glow of a Christmas tree, and the sparkle that the ornaments bring is just the cherry on top. However, if you have curious kitties running rampant in your home, those beautiful ornaments could become cat toys pretty quickly.

Try placing your ornaments and light strands on higher branches if you can. While it might make for a less aesthetic tree, any ornaments that dangle mere inches from the ground are begging to become cat toys. Not only will placing the decorations higher up in the tree keep your pet safe but doing so can protect your precious baubles, too. Shiny dangling ornaments will get batted and may even fall off the branch and break in the process.

If you must decorate the lower portion of the tree, secure your ornaments securely to the branches. Instead of the candy cane-shaped hooks, use wire you can clamp around the branch so it is impossible to bat off. Keep in mind, however, that low-lying ornaments can still be tempting for your cat to play with and even if they’re firmly attached, they can become damaged over time.

3. Forgo the Tinsel

Tinsel is the shiny decorative strands that many people use to adorn their trees. It hangs down vertically from the top to the bottom of the tree and looks a lot like your cat’s favorite wand toy, so you can imagine how excited your cat might become at the sight of a tree covered in tinsel.

Tinsel is actually one of the biggest dangers as, if it gets ingested, it could twist up in your cat’s stomach into a tangled ball. As it moves through your cat’s digestive system, the strands can scrape the inner lining of your cat’s intestines, potentially causing tears which can lead to life-threatening infections.

While tinsel is beautiful, it’s best to avoid it altogether if you have cats, especially if your kitty is a known chewer.

4. Secure Your Tree

Baby Gate / Dog Gate on The Ground Next to the Stairs
Image Credit: Rianna M. Hill, Shutterstock

Securing furniture is an important part of both pet ownership and parenthood. Things like bookshelves, dressers, and, you guessed it, Christmas trees can fall over and hurt or kill your pets or children.

You can do this easily by choosing to place your tree in the corner of your room. Wrap fishing line around the base or trunk of the tree and secure each end of the wire to hooks that you’ve placed on your wall or windowsill.

A heavy base can prevent your tree from tipping over, too.

Try barricading your tree behind baby or pet gates. They are easy to set up and usually store flat so keeping them tucked away in the off-season is a breeze. Be warned, though, baby gates are no match for adventurous kitties. They would work best if you have a senior cat whose jumping years are behind them.

Another way to secure your tree is to make it fireproof. American firefighters are called out to around 160 home fires every year that start because of Christmas trees.

To prevent your tree from becoming a fire hazard, choose one that is fire-resistant. If you choose an artificial tree, pick one that states it is fire-resistant. While this doesn’t mean it won’t catch fire, they are less likely to and if they were to start on fire, it’s typically easier to extinguish than the non-fire resistant varieties.

If you prefer live trees, choose one that is as fresh as possible. To determine freshness, check to see if the needles are green and hard to pull off. The trunk should have a slight stickiness from sap. Trees that aren’t freshly cut will not draw up water and will dry up quickly. Get the tree cut again before setting it up in your home so it can readily drink water once you set it up.

5. Take Care with Fresh Trees

Some families can’t imagine Christmas without a fresh tree in their living room. If you absolutely must have a real tree, there are some precautions you should consider.

The oils that some trees produce can become mildly toxic if your cat ingests them.

Sharp pine needles can cause internal damage when eaten and even cause ear or eye damage if they were to get into those orifices.

The water at the base of your tree can be very tempting to curious cats but it can pose serious health risks, too. The water can become contaminated with bacteria and fungi that can make your cat sick. The preservative packets and tablets that come with your tree have fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals that can be harmful to your pets.

To keep curious little noses out of the water, use a lid from an ice cream pail to cover the water container. You may need to make cuts in the lid to have it fit properly.

6. Unplug Your Lights

Unplug or plugged in concept socket on electric plug on wall
Image Credit: Bigc Studio, Shutterstock

Some cats are just chewers—there’s no way around it. If your kitty has a habit of gnawing on electrical cables, you will need to unplug your Christmas lights when you’re not around.

Electrocution can cause injuries and conditions such as:
  • Burns surrounding the mouth
  • Changes in the heart’s electrical conduction
  • Pulmonary edema
  • High blood pressure

Electrical shock can even be fatal, so it’s better to be safe than sorry if you have a chewer. Either get into the habit of unplugging your lights when you’re not able to monitor your cat or forgo lights altogether.


The 3 Other Things to Consider

While these won’t keep your cat away from your Christmas tree, they are still things that you should consider when setting up your tree during the holiday season!

Maine coon cat with green eyes sitting at little christmas tree with lights
Image Credit: Bogdan Sonjachnyj, Shutterstock

1. Smaller Trees

The larger the tree, the more enticing it is for your cat, and the more opportunities your cat will have to sneak in without you noticing. We’re not saying that you need to go for a Charlie Brown tree, but the smaller the tree is, the easier it will be to keep the cats away from it.

Moreover, if your cat does get into the tree and knocks it over, they’re far less likely to get hurt with a smaller tree.

2. Keep It Solid

You want to keep your cat away from your tree, and we completely understand that. But you also need to prepare yourself for what happens if your cat does get into your tree. The best thing is to ensure that your Christmas tree has a sturdy foundation and isn’t going anywhere.

Falling trees can break ornaments, injure your cat, and of course, damage the tree. Keeping it upright is the best way to keep everything intact and everyone safe.

3. Cover the Water Bowl

If you get a live tree, you need to cover the water bowl. The stagnant water can soak up sap and can have bacterial growth, both of which are bad for your cat. The easiest way to keep your cat away from the water is to cover the bowl.

divider-multipet Final Thoughts

Just because you have cats in the home doesn’t mean your Christmas tree is bound for disaster. But it does mean that you should take extra precautions.

You’ve taken the right first step by doing your homework. Now all you need to do is put these strategies in place, so you can have a great Christmas without pulling your cat out of the tree over and over again!

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Featured Image Credit: Nadtochiy, Shuttterstock

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