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Home > Cats > Is a Fake Christmas Tree Safe For My Cat? 6 Possible Risks

Is a Fake Christmas Tree Safe For My Cat? 6 Possible Risks

cat in a christmas tree

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Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

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The festive season is nearly upon us. Decorations, twinkling lights, and Christmas trees are household staples, bringing the feel of the festive spirit into our homes. Christmas trees are a hot topic of conversation this time of year. Some people purchase and decorate artificial trees to avoid dropping pine needles and getting a new tree each year.

But you might wonder if your fake tree is safe for your curious cat. Can fake Christmas trees harm cats?  Oddly enough, yes, fake Christmas trees can pose a safety issue for your feline. This article will cover the possible problems cat owners may face when decking their halls with artificial Christmas trees.


Is an Artificial Christmas Tree Safe for My Cat?

Generally, most fake Christmas trees are made of plastic such as PVC, which (while not great for cats to eat, or any pet for that matter) isn’t generally considered toxic to cats in the amount they would consume. Toxicity isn’t really a concern for fake trees, but that isn’t true for real Christmas trees. Real trees secrete pine oil that is very much an irritant to your cat’s skin.

However, there are other dangers to remember when thinking about your Christmas tree, such as breaking decorations, Christmas lights, and the tree toppling over.  Although they’re not real, fake Christmas trees can pose a hazard to your pretty kitty.

Cat at the top of christmas tree
Image by: Jon Osumi, Shutterstock


The 6 Risks a Fake Tree Could Pose to Your Cat

1. Tree Toppling Over

There is a very real danger of a tree falling over if your cat decides to go climbing; limb or back injuries can result from a falling tree. Ensuring you have a weighty base on your tree and keeping any weight at the bottom helps keep it securely anchored to the ground, even if your cat decides to explore its branches!

2. Chewing on Artificial Needles

While not particularly tasty to us, your cat may be tempted to chew on the artificial needles of your Christmas tree. This nibbling might seem cute, but eating the plastic needles can be very serious since they can cause an intestinal blockage.

The fake needles from the tree can get caught in your cat’s digestive tract and cause blockages which can be fatal. Signs of an intestinal blockage include vomiting, weight loss, and bloating.

In severe cases, it can cause death since the intestinal tract will begin to decay when the blood flow is hindered. If you notice your cat chewing on Christmas tree needles, consider placing the tree somewhere your cat cannot reach it and keep a close eye on them.

cat under christmas tree
Image by: Alena Haurylik, Shutterstock

3. Ingesting Flocking

Despite looking gorgeous and wintery, fake trees with powdered snow sprayed onto their branches are mildly toxic to cats if eaten, causing tummy upset. Flocking can also cause intestinal blockages if ingested in high enough amounts.

4. Ingesting Tinsel

Tinsel is an absolute Christmas classic, and it comes in many different shapes, colors, and varieties. But unfortunately, it does pose a significant risk to your cat, particularly if they’re prone to being adventurous.

Tinsel can cause intestinal blockages if eaten, and it’s more likely to cause a type of intestinal blockage called a linear foreign body, which is very serious. Tinsel also poses a strangulation hazard since your cat can very quickly get caught up in its shiny coils. Therefore, it’s best not to use tinsel (despite it being beautiful) if you have a pet cat at home.

Cat Christmas tree ornaments
Image by: Unsplash

5. Decorations

Ornaments, baubles, and beautiful trinkets are other Christmas staples that can decorate your artificial tree. However, some glass baubles or older plastic ornaments may shatter and cut your cat’s skin or paws.

Make sure any ornaments you hang on your fake tree aren’t dangly or tempting to your kitty, and keep the bottom of the tree sparsely decorated to prevent your cat from trying to grab onto them.

6. Christmas Lights

Christmas lights draped on a fake (or real) Christmas tree can cause fatal electrocution if they’re bitten or chewed by your cat. Strings of lights also risk strangulation if your cat gets caught up in them. The best way to avoid these scenarios is to use a fiber optic tree or buy a tree with lights that are integrated into the tree itself, with no loose wires.

If you have to buy Christmas tree lights, consider using LED battery-powered lights to reduce the risk of fatal electrocution.


Final Thoughts

Fake Christmas trees are generally safe for cats; they’re safer than real trees and a lot less messy. They can be made safer by following some simple tips that we’ve described here, such as discouraging your cat from chewing on the needles, placing ornaments higher up in the tree and securing them properly, using a tree that has integrated lights, and securing the bottom of your tree by weighing it down.

Featured Image Credit: Jessica Lewis, Unsplash

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