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How to Keep Your Cat out of the Christmas Tree

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Jessica is an experienced pet mom with dogs, cats, rats, fish, axolotls, a gecko, chickens, and ducks.


For many of us, putting up a Christmas tree is an essential part of the holiday season. We either go out and get a real tree or put up an artificial tree and then we decorate it with special ornaments, some of which can be very fragile.

However, our cats don't quite understand why our trees are so special to us. All they understand is that we put something large, new, and exciting in their environment, and they really want to check it out. Many owners are frustrated when their cats start climbing the tree, knocking down ornaments, or even toppling the entire tree. It might be frustrating seeing your cat exhibit this kind of behavior, but there is some hope that you can get your cat to leave your tree alone.

Here are some tips on how to keep your cat out of your Christmas tree.

Think About Why Your Cat Is Interested in the Tree in the First Place

There are many reasons that a big lit-up Christmas tree with shiny ornaments would grab your cat's attention. The shiny ornaments might seem like toys. The texture of the tree might seem perfect for them to chew on, and for a cat, it must seem like the perfect place to climb.

Make sure that your cat has plenty of entertaining toys and scratch pads around. You may be able to redirect their chewing with a cat-appropriate plant, like cat grass, and you might be able to redirect their climbing to a cat tower.

This is definitely the easiest approach to keeping your cat out of the tree, but as most of us know, cats can have their own agenda. This might work for an easy-going cat that can be distracted with a jingle ball, but if it doesn't work there are several other methods to try!


Try Using a Deterrent

There are several things that you can use as a deterrent to keep your cat away from the tree.

Try Citrus Scents

Dried citrus fruits, such as oranges, are already a popular Christmas decoration. Cats generally dislike citrus, so you may have some luck hanging dried oranges from your tree. If you aren't a fan of the oranges hanging on the tree you can also hide peels from oranges, lemons, and limes under the tree skirt. You can also achieve this result with a citrus spray.

Use a Cat Repellent Spray

There are several options that are available from stores, or you can make your own. Several homemade recipes are available online but most of them seem to be a mix of water, vinegar, and lemon essential oil. Bitter apple spray may also be helpful if your cat is chewing on the branches of the tree.

Use Tinfoil Around the Base of the Tree

This one may not look as pretty but most cats really don't like stepping on tin foil. It definitely wouldn't hurt to try if it keeps your cat away from fragile ornaments or family heirlooms.

Encourage Good Behavior / Discourage Bad Behavior

If you want your cat to understand that messing with the Christmas tree is not acceptable, you will have to actively discourage the behavior. Some things you can do to are:

  • Clap loudly when your cat starts getting into the tree.
  • Shake a can filled with pennies.
  • Move your cat from the tree to a better place, such as their cat tower or scratching post.

It is also important to help your cat recognize that not getting into the tree is a good thing! Reward your cat for playing with their other toys. If your cat goes up to the tree, and then turns around and leaves it alone, that is a cause for a reward!


Make Sure the Tree Is Safe

Sometimes even after trying all of these techniques your cat will still find a way to get to the tree. If this is the case you want to make sure that the tree isn't going to fall over and hurt your cat or any other pets or children in your home.

One way to keep your tree from falling over is to put weights at the bottom of the tree. Another way is to secure your tree with wire either to the wall or to the ceiling.

If you are using a live tree you will probably have a water supply. Try and cover this to keep cats out and don't use additives to try and prolong the tree's life. Something like aspirin mixed into the water could be very harmful to your cat if they get into it.

Lastly, avoid tinsel. It can be very tempting to your cat to chew on the tinsel, but it can cause them a lot of harm. If they swallow tinsel it can get wrapped up in their intestines and cause a blockage. This would definitely require a trip to the vet.

Remember that cats are curious creatures! They are not messing with your tree just to upset you. A Christmas tree is big, shiny, and exciting and cats just want to see what's going on. Hopefully these tips help you and your cat have a peaceful holiday season!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Jess H


Jess H (author) from Oregon on December 04, 2020:

Thank you for your comment! Consistency is definitely key, along with making sure the tree is safe for the times you can't watch them.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on December 03, 2020:

I always wonder how people with nosy cats cope during the Christmas season.

Our cat couldn't give a damn. If a cat owner consistently corrects their cats bad behaviour each time it should eventually work.