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Help! My Cat Won’t Leave My Christmas Tree Alone

Written By
5 min read

Updated - Nov 8th, 2022

Key Points

  • As amazing as real trees are, artificial trees are usually more pet-friendly. Consider making the switch!
  • Place your tree in a corner ideally away from launching pads like furniture, bookshelves, or ledges.
  • Do yourself a favor and ditch the tinsel!
  • If your cat still won’t leave your tree alone, try surrounding your tree with aluminum foil or spraying it with a DIY apple cider vinegar spray.

If you’re wondering how to keep your cat away from your Christmas tree this holiday season, you’ve come to the right place.

Whether you have a curious new kitten or an expert tree climber, we know how nerve-wracking putting up your Christmas tree can be. But before you kick your tree to the curb, try out some of these tips.

Choosing a “cat-friendly” Christmas tree

Although real trees add a delightful pine smell to your home, unfortunately, they’re not the most cat-friendly option. The aromatic oils and resins from real trees can be dangerous for a plant-nibbling cat as they can cause stomach upset. Plus, stagnant water in the tree holder can harbor harmful bacteria, fertilizers, or preservatives that can also wreak havoc on your cat’s digestive system. If pine needles are swallowed, they can cause blockages or present a choking hazard. 

Fake trees, on the other hand, tend to be a more cat-friendly option. Not only are they very realistic and provide years of use, but their needles are less likely to fall off, they don’t require a water bowl, and most come with securely installed lights. Plus, artificial branches tend to be less enticing to plant nibblers and their trunks are not climber-friendly. The downside is they are lighter than actual trees, so you’ll need to make sure they’re secured well to keep them sturdy.

Tip: No matter which tree you choose, avoid artificial snow or flocking. The chemicals can be very toxic to any pet in your household. 

How do I set up my Christmas tree safely?

Provide a sturdy base: Choose a weighted, heavy-duty tree stand that can support the size of your tree.

Anchor your tree to the wall: Try anchoring your tree to your wall with a hook and some clear fishing line or a wire.

Choose placement wisely: Place your tree in a corner if you can, and steer clear of launching pads like furniture, bookshelves, tables, and ledges.

Tip: If you have a real tree, try covering the water bowl with a tree skirt or a tree guard.

How do I decorate my Christmas tree safely?

If this is your cat’s first Christmas with you, try holding off on decorating your tree for a while. This will allow your cat time to investigate it without a bunch of shiny toys dangling from it. If you’re lucky (and we mean, really lucky), your cat may become accustomed to your tree and leave it alone altogether!

However, when that’s not the case, here are our best tips for decorating your tree with your curious kitty in mind.

Christmas lights

  • If your cat likes to nibble on electrical cords, hang your lights closer to the inside of your tree or near its trunk.
  • Cover any cords between your tree and the outlet with a pet-friendly cord cover.
  • Always turn the lights off when you are not in the room.

Ornaments

  • Place valuable ornaments at the top of the tree so they’re harder to reach.
  • Secure ornaments to branches with wire or tightly-knotted string.
  • If you can stand the look of a half-naked tree, try leaving the bottom half of the tree undecorated until festivities are underway!

Tinsel

  • Do yourself a favor and skip it!
  • If ingested, tinsel can get tangled up in the digestive system, creating a blockage or a choking hazard.

How do I stop my cat from messing with my Christmas tree?

When in doubt…

Create an aluminum foil barrier

Cats generally don’t like the sound or texture of aluminum foil. Though it’s a little unsightly, it might be worth wrapping your tree trunk with foil to discourage any tree climbing. You can even lay it on the floor surrounding the base of your tree to keep your cat from getting too close.

Bring out the citrus fruits

Many cats do not appreciate the smell of citrus fruits. Try placing orange peels and lemon rinds in a cloth sack and replace them every few days during the holiday season. If that sounds like too much work, try making DIY apple cider vinegar spray with equal parts ACV and water and spray it on your tree. Many cats find the smell of apple cider vinegar obnoxious!

Tip: Scat mats or motion-activated sprays cause more harm to your cat than good. A fearful cat can become aggressive and distrustful. 

Nothing is working – Is it even worth it?

At the end of the day, Christmas trees are giant sparkly toys for cats, so despite your best efforts, your kitty may still swat, swing, and nibble whenever they get the chance.

Rather than forgoing the Christmas tree altogether, try making these pet-friendly tweaks first. Though it might not be the exact centerpiece you envisioned, it can help keep your kitty safe, which can give you peace of mind while you celebrate the holidays.

Ultimately, you know your cat best – so whether or not it’s worth having a Christmas tree is totally your call. Regardless of your decision, know that it’s not the end of the world if a Christmas tree is simply not in the cards for you. Table-top trees, wooden trees, or even an extra wreath or two can help fill the room with more Christmas cheer than you previously thought possible.

Despite our best efforts to avoid holiday hazards, accidents do happen. Pumpkin Cat Insurance plans can help you pay for the care your kitty needs when the unexpected happens by reimbursing 90% of eligible vet bills.

Your free quote is just a paw away!

Lynn Guthrie

Writer, Mom of a Fab Fur Fam of Five
Lynn is a writer and long-time Learning & Development Manager at a large PNW retailer. She's also mom to 3 dogs & 2 cats!
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